Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
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America's Catholic Church
Since its dedication in 1959, this Byzantine-Romanesque shrine to the Virgin Mary has welcomed over one million visitors a year, among them Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Mother Teresa. At over 77,500 square feet, it is the largest Catholic Church in the western hemisphere and is the eighth largest church in the world. Walking through the Basilica, 70 ornate chapels, oratories, and sacred images like Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel flank the sides of the upper church and crypt, whereas the Shrine's ceiling bears one of the largest, most intricate and gorgeous mosaic renderings of Jesus. Named "Christ in Majesty" (some have humorously nicknamed it "The Scary Christ" due to its stern look), it is made up of over 3 million tiles.
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