After a century of continual construction, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest church in North America, is finally complete.
The construction of the basilica was completed on December 8th, the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – fitting for a church that honors the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception. Thousands came to witness the dedication and blessing of the “Trinity Dome,” the final architectural element of the church that covers over 26,000 square feet with 15 million pieces of Venetian glass creating a beautiful mosaic.
The mosaic depicts the Trinity, the Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception, 17 saints, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, two choir angels, and the Four Evangelists. Cardinal Donald Wuerl led Mass last Friday to celebrate the Immaculate Conception and to dedicate the newly completed Trinity Dome. Cardinal Wuerl called the mosaic a “modern-day masterpiece,” and reflected on its meaning during Mass, saying
“As your faithful people look at the images contained in the Trinity Dome, may they become of one mind with Christ. This mosaic honors, above all, the truth that Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. The eternal Son of God, who came down to the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the sign and sacrament of God the Father.”
Cardinal Wuerl drew comparisons between “the myriad tiles in so much color coming together” to the diversity of Catholics “in the pews of this National Shrine – the living members who make up the Body of Christ.”
“All we have to do is look out across the thousands of people gathered for Mass and we see the face of the world. We look across this great Church of God and see out of so many [different ethnic backgrounds] one great faith family.”
Pope Francis previously visited the basilica in 2015 and blessed the first segment of the mosaic. Following its completion, he sent a letter in which he expressed hope that all who look at the depiction of Mary in the dome may “with new vigor and new ardor of charity, show forth special love for the Church of Christ and the Gospel, even in our own age.”