Our Lady of Czestochowa
One of the most magnificent and largest churches in the United States, the basilica has dozens of chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary, including the beautiful Our Lady of Czestochowa chapel, which contains an exact duplicate of the original icon in Poland often called the "Black Madonna of Czestochowa."
The north apse of the Great Upper Church is dominated by the mosaic "Christ in Majesty." At 3,610 square feet, it may be the largest mosaic of Jesus in the world. Made of Venetian tinted glass, it was designed by the famous Polish artist Jan (John) de Rosen. De Rosen also created five mosaic tympana within the interior of the east porch of the Basilica (you'll have to step outside the church and look above the doors to see them.) These mosaics highlight events in the growth of the Catholic faith in the United States.
In the lower church is Our Lady of Lourdes chapel, an exact replica of the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, France. The hand-carved oak kneeler located there was used by Pope John Paul II when he visited the Shrine in 1979.
Learn more: www.nationalshrine.com
Hours: Open 365 days a year. For mass schedules, check the Web site or call 202-526-8300.
Location: 400 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20017
Travel tips: There is plenty of free parking at the basilica and it is only a half mile walk from the Brookland/CUA (Catholic University of America) Metro Station on the Red Line. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the basilica. There is a cafeteria that serves hot food on the lower level as well as two well-stocked gift stores that offer books, music, films and many religious items.
About Jan (John) Henryk de Rosen (1891-1982) – Born in Warsaw, De Rosen was the son of a painter at the Russian courts of Czar Alexander III and Czar Nicholas II. De Rosen came to the United States in 1939 and became a professor of church art at the Catholic University of America. He is best known for his many murals and mosaics for churches and cathedrals located throughout the United States.
Our Lady Queen of Poland Church
This quaint little church with its picturesque cemetery will make you feel you are in the Polish countryside. With the encouragement of Pope John Paul II, the Archbishop of Washington established this church in 1983 as a mission parish to the Polish-speaking community. Masses are said in Polish each week. Polish foods can be had during the annual Christmas bazaar. Each Easter season on Holy Saturday there is a Blessing of the Easter Baskets. Both events draw Polish-Americans from all around the Washington metropolitan area.
Learn more: http://www.tux.org/parafia/
Hours: For mass schedules, check the Web site or call 301-589-1857.
Location: 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Travel tips: Free parking. The church is just a few blocks from the Forest Glen Metro Station on the Red Line.
Jan De Rosen: Mural of the
Washington National Cathedral
Although an Episcopal Cathedral, this national church welcomes people of all faiths and perspectives and draws pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
Once again, Polish artist Jan (John) de Rosen has left his mark in the form of the hauntingly beautiful chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is remembered for having given his sepulcher as a tomb for the crucified Jesus. Located below the crypt of the cathedral, this chapel features the only mural in the cathedral and it depicts the entombment of Jesus. Using tempera on gold leaf, De Rosen painted the faces of Jesus and St. Joseph of Arimathea using cathedral choirboys and staff as models.
The cathedral is famous for its stained glass windows. Don't miss the window containing a small sliver of a moon rock brought back to earth by the Apollo 11 astronauts. An elevator will take you to the top of the Pilgrim Observation Gallery for a fabulous bird's-eye view of Washington, D.C.
Learn more: www.nationalcathedral.org
Hours: For services and visiting hours, check the Web site or call 202-537-6200.
Location: 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW (at Massachusetts Ave.) Washington, DC 20016-5098
Travel tips: Parking is available in the Cathedral's underground garage. The garage is free Sundays from 6 am to 11 pm. The cathedral is about 1 ½ miles from the Tenleytown/AU (American University) Metro Station on the Red Line. Exit on the west side of Wisconsin Avenue. Take any 30 series bus (31, 32, 36, or 37) going south on Wisconsin Avenue. More directions are available at: www.nationalcathedral.org
The cathedral has a small snack shop, but there are many interesting restaurants on Wisconsin Avenue.
Our Lady by Gordon Kray
Pope John II by Gordon Kray
Built in 1893, this cathedral is perhaps best known as the site of President John F. Kennedy's funeral Mass on November 25, 1963. A large plaque in the floor marks the spot where Kennedy's casket was placed.
The focal point of Our Lady's Chapel is an unusual depiction of Mary by Polish-American sculptor Gordon S. Kray, who did the Kahlil Gibran Memorial across from the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. The statue of the Virgin shows her reaching down to fallen humanity and pointing to her ascended Son.
Kray, a Washington artist, also produced the bust of Pope John Paul II, who celebrated Mass in the cathedral October 6, 1979.
Learn more: www.stmatthewscathedral.org
Hours: For mass schedules, check the Web site or call 202-347-3215.
Location: 1725 Rhode Island Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Travel tips: Street parking can be very hard to find near the cathedral, but there are a number of parking garages nearby. If you are up for walking, the cathedral is just a few blocks from the Dupont Circle or the Farragut North Metro stations on the Red Line or the Farragut West Metro station on the Orange and Blue Lines.
To learn more about Gordon Kray and his work, see: www.gordonkraysculptor.com