The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a prominent Latin Rite Roman Catholic basilica located in Washington, D.C., USA, honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the principal Patroness of the USA.
The shrine is the largest Catholic church in the USA, the largest church of any kind in the western hemisphere, the eighth largest church building in the world, and the tallest building in Washington, D.C (the Washington Monument is taller, but is not a habitable building). An estimated one million pilgrims from around the country and the world visit the basilica each year. The basilica is on Michigan Avenue in the northeast quadrant of Washington, on land donated by The Catholic University of America. As of 2013 the rector of the shrine was Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, who possesses a Licentiate of Canon Law.
Construction of this church, notable for its Neo-Byzantine architecture, began in 1920 under Philadelphian contractor John McShain. It opened unfinished in 1959. The Basilica is the Patronal Catholic Church of the United States, honoring the Virgin Mary, under the title Immaculate Conception. The cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Washington is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, not the Basilica.
The shrine has merited several papal visits, by Pope John Paul II who designated the National Shrine as a Minor Basilica in October 12, 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI, who bestowed the honor of a Golden Rose to the basilica. The Basilica does not have its own parish community, but it serves the adjacent University, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (located down the street), and hosts numerous Holy Masses for various organizations of the Church from across the States.
The Saint Matthew Cathedral church and parish is named for Saint Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of civil servants, recognizing all those who serve in the municipal, state, and national governments and the many international organizations located in the metropolitan area. The church is the seat or cathedra of the Archbishop of Washington. As the Mother Church of the archdiocese, it plays a major role in the Catholic life of the nation’s capital.
The funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy was celebrated in the Cathedral on November 25, 1963 with many international heads of state and governments in attendance. In 1979, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in the Cathedral during his visit to the United States. Annually, on the Sunday before the first Monday in October when the Supreme Court of the United States begins its regular term, a special Mass is celebrated praying for the Holy Spirit to guide all those who are members of the legal profession. Known as the "Red Mass" in reference to the vestment color, the Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, the President's Cabinet, diplomatic corps, local municipal, state and national government leaders, and sometimes the President of the United States join the celebration.
Located just off the intersection of Connecticut Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue, and M Street in Northwest Washington and about four blocks from the White House.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, operated under the more familiar name of Washington National Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. Of neogothic design closely modeled on English Gothic style of the late fourteenth century, it is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, the second-largest in the United States,and the highest as well as the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, D.C. The cathedral is the seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, Mariann Edgar Budde. In 2009, nearly 400,000 visitors toured the structure. Average attendance at Sunday services in 2009 was 1,667, the highest of all domestic parishes in the Episcopal Church that year.
The Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, under the first seven Bishops of Washington, erected the cathedral under a charter passed by the United States Congress on January 6, 1893. Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000, and ended 83 years later when the "final finial" was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Decorative work, such as carvings and statuary, is ongoing as of 2011. The Foundation is the legal entity of which all institutions on the Cathedral Close are a part; its corporate staff provides services for the institutions to help enable their missions, conducts work of the Foundation itself that is not done by the other entities, and serves as staff for the Board of Trustees. In 2011, the Cathedral was named the recipient of a $700,000 matching grant limited to preservation work as part of the Save America's Treasures program, a public-private partnership operated by the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation using federal funds that must be matched by private dollars.
The cathedral stands at Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues in the northwest quadrant of Washington. It is an associate member of the Washington Theological Consortium. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, it was ranked third on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.