By Sharon Samber, Religion News Service via USATODAY.COM:
WASHINGTON (RNS) — The largest Catholic church in North America is now complete.
After 100 years of construction, thousands of worshippers Friday witnessed the blessing of 24 tons of Venetian glass that embellish the dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Called the “Trinity Dome,” the glass mosaic is the final architectural element of the church, a shrine to Mary which sits next to the Catholic University of America and is visited by nearly 1 million people a year.
A 10-minute procession of cardinals, bishops, and priests preceded the two-hour ceremony and Mass to mark the dedication of the dome.
Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl who celebrated the Mass called the basilica a “modern-day masterpiece.” Faith, he said, was the reason why so many people, for so many years, sacrificed to finish the church.
“Mary believed that nothing is impossible with God,” Wuerl said in his homily. “She is the supreme model of what it means to believe.”
The Trinity Dome is one of the largest mosaic installations of its kind in the world, composed of more than 14 million pieces of glass. It depicts the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, a procession of saints and angels, the four evangelists and the Nicene Creed. It also includes stained-glass windows dedicated to the many donors to the dome.