There are many titles for Mary. But today as U.S Catholics we celebrate a particularly special title because it is the principal patroness of our country; the Immaculate Conception! This special feast day commemorates that Mary was conceived without Original Sin. The U.S. Catholic bishops chose Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception as our patroness in 1846, which was 8 years before the dogmatic bull on the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX was declared! Pope Pius IX approved the Immaculate Conception as our patroness on Feb. 7, 1847.
This is why the U.S. Catholic Church's principal basilica is called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., which is often called America's Catholic Church.
Here are five fun facts about our principal Romanesque-Byzantine styled basilica!
(Photo Credit: Flickr, Wikipedia, Wikimedia).
1. The construction of this 459 foot long, 240 feet wide basilica was done entirely of stone, brick, tile and mortar. No steel beams, frames, or columns were used! It is the largest basilica in North America and is one the top ten biggest in the world! After almost 100 years, the Basilica is almost finished with the completion of the Trinity Dome!
2. The first mass celebrated in the basilica was Easter of 1924, which was four years after the cornerstone was placed and eleven when Pope Pius X approved the building of the national basilica.
3. There are 80 Chapels and Oratories inside the Basilica, not including the Great Upper Church and the Crypt.
4. Saint John Paul II was the first pope to visit the Basilica. Pope Benedict XVI and Francis have also visited as well as Saint Mother Teresa!
5. The mosaic "Christ in Majesty" behind the main sanctuary in the Great Upper Church on the north apse contains over 4,000 shades and colors, which makes it one of the biggest mosaics of Christ in the world!
Next time you are in D.C. stop by the Basilica to pray to our Blessed Mother!
QUIZ! How many other countries have the Immaculate Conception as their patroness?
"Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed December 6th, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_the_National_Shrine_of_the_Immaculate_Conception.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Accessed December 6th, 2017.
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