D.C. basilica offers virtual tour of the joyful mysteries for Christmas

shutterstock 1135927853 Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at night in Washington, DC. | Shutterstock

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is inviting the faithful to take a virtual tour of its Joyful Mysteries Chapels in celebration of Christmas.

“Virtually tour the Joyful Mysteries Chapels, celebrating the jubilance of the Messiah’s birth and early life!” the basilica announced in a tweet on Dec. 25.

The five adjacent chapels located in the church sanctuary depict the five joyful mysteries of the rosary: The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, and the Finding in the Temple.

Each chapel tells the story of its respective mystery in colorful, glittering mosaics, along with a parallel scene from the Old Testament. For those who are unable to visit in person, the basilica offers a free immersive virtual tour located on its website.

For the first joyful mystery, the Annunciation Chapel illustrates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will conceive and bear the Son of God. Underneath, the Old Testament scene of Moses and the burning bush appears, capturing the moment when Moses is charged with freeing his people.

In the Visitation Chapel, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who is also miraculously pregnant. The Old Testament parallel beneath shows Obed-Edom welcoming the Ark of the Covenant into his home.

The Nativity Chapel depicts Jesus’s birth with the Magi and shepherds present. The Old Testament parallel pictures Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s virgin birth.

In the Presentation Chapel, Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem as required by the Old Testament law. The parallel beneath shows Hannah presenting Samuel to the Lord.

For the Finding in the Temple Chapel, mosaics tell the story of Mary and Joseph searching for Jesus only to find him conversing with the elders in the temple. The Old Testament parallel shows Daniel speaking with the elders of his time.

These five chapels are a part of the basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and one of the 10 largest churches in the world. Designated by the U.S. bishops as a national sanctuary of pilgrimage and prayer, it has welcomed visitors including Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, and St. Teresa of Calcutta.

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