Washington D.C., May 30, 2021 / 15:30 pm
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, the first cathedral built in the United States, is turning 200 years old on May 31. Below are 10 facts that make this landmark one of the most emblematic places in Catholic America:
· Its architect, Benjamin H. Latrobe, was the most important architect at the time of its construction, having helped designed the U.S. Capitol. Upon the request of Bishop John Carroll, Latrobe presented two different plans for the cathedral.
· Bishop Carroll chose Latrobe’s neoclassical architectural plan over a Gothic alternative, because he wanted to convey the message that the Catholic Church was a forward-thinking institution that would stay and participate in the building of America.
· Thomas Jefferson himself mediated in a difference of opinion between Bishop Carroll and Latrobe - two men who had a very collaborative relationship overall. Jefferson's proposal, inspired by his visit to Paris, was finally incorporated in the cathedral: a wooden double-shell sky-lit dome.