The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a prominent Latin Rite Catholic basilica located in Washington, D.C., honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States. It is the largest Catholic church in the United States, the eighth largest religious structure in the world, and the tallest building in Washington, D.C. An estimated one million pilgrims from around the country and the world visit the basilica each year. The basilica is located on Michigan Avenue in the northeast quadrant of Washington, on land donated by The Catholic University of America.
Construction of this church, notable for its Neo-Byzantine architecture, began in 1920 under Philadelphia contractor John McShain and opened unfinished in 1959. The Basilica is the Patronal Catholic Church of the United States, honoring Mary, Mother of God, under the title Immaculate Conception. It is not the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Washington; the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle serves as church of the Archdiocese. The Basilica is sometimes confused with the Washington National Cathedral.
The Basilica does not have its own parish community, but it serves the adjacent University, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (located down the street), and hosts numerous Masses for organizations of the Church from across the United States.