Basilica of the National Shrine

Our Catholic homeschool group took the show on the road Friday with a field trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Or just the Basilica, for short.

After getting lost taking the scenic route in the rain, we still managed to get there in time for mass in the crypt chapel, where our group was welcomed – by name- by the officiating priest.  Then lunch in the cafeteria where it looked for a moment that we were not going to be able to find seats for the 22 of us, but by the time we’d gone through the line all sorts of tables had opened up.

After lunch we had a guided tour.  I’d love to say that it was wonderful, but our guide talked sooo fast that he was difficult to understand.  I was trying hard to hear what he had to say, and I know that the children missed most of it.  I got some great pictures, though.

The basilica contains over 70 chapels and oratories dedicated to Our Lady, and they reflect the cultures and traditions of people around the world. This one, to Our Lady of Lourdes, is a replica of the grotto in France.
I’m not sure why it had a gate in front of it.

Bip was on a potty break when we saw the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I took him back to see it and asked him if he knew who it was.  “Mary!” he said in that cute preschooler way he has.


I showed him Juan Diego, with the roses spilling out of his tilma.


I thought Our Lady of China was beautiful –

Walking into the main part of the church, this is the ceiling –

And a close up of one of the domes…

When you’re visiting DC, don’t miss the Basilica!  They have free pamphlets available to help you find your way or you can purchase a more in depth guide.  Both are available in the bookstore or gift shop.  There’s free parking, always a plus in DC!

More Mac and Cheese, please!


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  • Your Dad and I went to the Basilica years ago when I was in DC for a conference. It is magnificent! I am so happy you were able to take the kids for a tour of such a beautiful shrine to Our Lady before you left DC.
    We really enjoyed seeing how different cultures depict Mary. At that time, there was also an exhibit dedicated to Pope John Paul II, who was our Pope at the time. So our visit to the Basilica was extra special :)

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