D.C. National Shrine to mark 50th anniversary in November


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will mark its 50th anniversary on Nov. 20, closing a year of pilgrimages and plenary indulgences.

The Jubilee has been celebrated for an entire year before the actual anniversary, in keeping with Church tradition. According to the Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence for the period of the Jubilee.

The Basilica had hosted Pilgrimage Saturdays on the third Saturday afternoon of each month beginning in February 2009 and ending this November. Participants are guided on “pilgrimage” to select chapels and oratories of the Basilica, joining in litanies, devotions, and songs in honor of the Virgin Mary.

An Anniversary Exhibit opened in September at the Basilica’s Memorial Hall to present photographs, artifacts and memorabilia of the Basilica’s history, including its construction. The exhibit will be on display until November.

Just as the Basilica opened its 1959 dedication with a Triduum, it will celebrate the close of its Jubilee Year with a Triduum. The three-day celebration will begin on Thursday, Nov. 19 with the Plenary Mass of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at 5 p.m. It will continue through Saturday, Nov. 21 with the final pilgrimage event and will close with the celebration of Solemn Mass on noon Sunday, Nov. 22.

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