Monday, 28 May 2007

Sunday sightseeing

Well, as befits a godmother taking her godson on a trip, we had a very church-y Sunday! We went to Mass at the Cathedral of St Matthew, a few blocks from our hotel. The music was good, although I have to say for choral singing in a cathedral I prefer the purity of little boys' voices to women's voices for the soprano parts.

The most noteworthy thing about this cathedral (at least in our eyes) was that it was where John F Kennedy's funeral Mass had been celebrated.

After a stop-off at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall (much enjoyed by my nephew, and the only part of the day that he thought all of his siblings would have enjoyed), we went to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

This is the biggest Catholic church in the Western hemisphere and the pre-eminent Marian shrine in the US, and all I can say is WOW! Perhaps the fact that I took 114 photos today gives you some idea of what an amazing place it was. If you're ever in Washington, I really recommend a visit.
Pretty good zoom my new camera has, huh?!

The same window from the inside:

We were fortunate enough to be able to tag onto the end of an official tour, and my nephew memorised some mind-boggling facts and figures. Despite the tour going on, the atmosphere was reverent and prayerful, and, although he commented that it would have been difficult to take all his siblings there and enjoy the experience, my nephew really seemed to enjoy the experience, and raved about it on the phone to his parents this evening.

The main altar, with the biggest (so far) mosaic in the church behind it. The main body of the church has several huge and intricate mosaics, and another is planned for the main dome which, when completed, will be the biggest mosaic in the world.

This one was designed so that the eyes of Jesus are looking at you wherever you are in the church. At first glance, He looks stern, but as you keep gazing at His eyes, you see the compassion and love in them.

This is the Blessed Sacrament chapel. The tabernacle rests on a marble base and is surrounded by a gold bronze canopy in which bronze rods rise to an open crown focusing rays from the skylight on the tabernacle. Gold squares along the rods recall the manna in the desert. In the dome, the centrepiece is Christ on the cross, with Mary catching the blood and water flowing from His side in a cup. The figures each side of this central scene represent people of all ages and races taking part in a universal offertory procession.

The crypt church - the original part of the building. The altar, with the figures of the twelve apostles carved around it, is carved from a single piece of onyx. Donations were solicited from 10,000 "Marys of America" to contribute towards the Mary Memorial Altar, which cost $50,000 in 1921.


Brad Harvey said...

Happy to see you`re having such a wonderful trip. Great pictures. Can`t wait to see more.

newhousenewjob said...

Thanks Brad. With my new camera, there'll be no stopping me...

Cy said...

Have a wonderful trip! Thanks for posting the awesome pictures, I've always wanted to visit the Basilica. You have a marvelous blog!