Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas: on the fourth day of Christmas ...

... my true love gave to me a family pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This is an absolutely perfect place to go on the Feast of the Holy Family ... especially with your family in tow! We haven't been since we moved to Virginia in June (and hadn't been up to the Shrine since our Right to Life march in 2001), so this truly was a special event!
A stained glass window of the Shrine. This is downstairs on the Crypt-level in the cafeteria (where a very reasonable lunch may be obtained if you should have some kids -- or an adult or two -- that are starving!)
Here's a photo-essay that can say so much better what we saw today!Here are the three little ones in front of the Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine.Here's the chair Pope Benedict XVI used when he came in April ... since String Bean did her Catholic History project on the Papal Visit, this chair is especially cool to see in "real life". Notice, too, the memorial plaques that line the wall behind the Papal Chair. Here is a family memorial plaque purchased by my Great-Aunt (a Sister of Mercy who worked for years in the hospital in Chicago) for her parents and their progeny (so that includes us too!). One of the many Nativity scenes set up throughout the Bascilica. Even though the Magi are there a few days early, the scenes are still well-worth a moment or two of meditation.
Being Polish (and having seen the original in Chestochowa with BamBam when he was 3 months old), this particular Polish-American chapel holds a great pull for me and mine.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace is a beautiful, peace-filled chapel just outside the Crypt Church. Since "peace" will be our theme this year, you may see this particular image moved to our banner!
Our Lady of Ireland Chapel is different than I would have expected -- the statue is not of Our Lady of Knock ... but is so graceful and beautiful it really needs to be seen to give justice to. Here is the "nail on iron" Celtic-style cross placed behind the Pieta-style Madonna and it really is beautiful.This is the 9th Century poem (prayer really) that is carved on one of the walls of the Our Lady of Ireland Chapel. I'm so excited that the picture is clear enough to transcribe this beautiful prayer!
Our Lady of Altotting, a Bavarian-German image of Mary, has a lovely place of honor just off the main altar. Pope Benedict, when he visited in April, prayed at this particular shrine (he was born 5 km from the original and this was placed/dedicated here at the Bascilica on his birthday just before he was elected Pope!).
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most-visited of the chapels in the Bascilica. And the beauty is only superseded by the fact that Our Lady, under her title of "Our Lady of Guadalupe", is the patroness of the Americas (and I've dedicated my latest writing venture to this dear image).
Here is one side of the chapel wall leading to the OLof Guadalupe image above. This side is of the Pacific and South American pilgrims (including Aztecs who converted and Latin American saints). The opposite wall is a mosaic of North American and Old World pilgrims with images including St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Francis Xavier Cabrini.
Here is the Shrine (and the stormy sky) as we left this afternoon. This Bascilica that every American Catholic (if not every Catholic) should really try and see in person. The mosaics ... the craftsmanship and devotion that went into each and every work of art in this patronal chruch ... really needs to be seen to be understood.
We may make another trip up there this week (while dh is still off!).


Debbie said...

Didn't know about the family plaque there. Will have to check it out next time we're there!

Gwen said...

Ooooo....lucky duck! We're plotting all the time how we can come and visit. Merry Christmas, Happy Epiphany and a blessed New Year! We miss you :-)