April 2, 2016
This trip started out on a chilly, drizzly morning. It was hard to believe we might get clear skies later in the day to take pictures of the outside of this impressive Byzantine-Romanesque building. While waiting and hoping for that, we had plenty of photo opportunities inside the Basilica, which is “the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America, and is one of the ten largest churches in the world,” and, also, “houses the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art on earth,” according to their website.
There is the smaller, but lovely, Crypt Church on the lower level, and the much larger Upper Church on the level above. There are 70 small chapels and oratories throughout the structure. The Upper Church has section after section of high, vaulted ceilings, plus two domes, covered with art work including mosaics, stained glass, sculptures and polished stone carvings.
Again, taken from their website: “Dominating the North Apse of the Great Upper Church is the Byzantine style mosaic Christ in Majesty. It is one of the largest mosaic images of Jesus Christ in the world and contains more than 4000 shades and colors. Other mosaic images depict the Creation of the World, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the Last Judgment.” I tried to take photographs of all these ceilings and mosaics. Sadly, I don’t think I did justice to the amazing colors of these art works.
I managed to find my way outside in between drizzles to discover a lovely garden with a fountain and sculptures of Mary, plus a gorgeous tulip bed on the lawn. I managed to see parts of the outside of the Basilica before the rain drove me back inside. By then, it was almost time to meet up with the group in the cafeteria to plan for the afternoon. First, I browsed the bookstore. There is also a gift shop, which I didn’t get a chance to enter.
The cafeteria had a choice of two entrees, plus a nice selection of sides and desserts for very reasonable prices. There is a lighted (what I assume is a) stained glass rendition of the Basilica on the wall in the seating area that I especially liked. After eating and chatting awhile, I took a quick trip outside to see that the sun was actually shining, and big, white clouds were in the sky. I grabbed my stuff and headed back outside to get exterior shots of the Basilica, and the surrounding Catholic University buildings.
The only problem with photographing the outside of the Basilica is that every 10 to 20 feet the view changes. A tower comes into view here, a carved sculpture on the building there, an arched opening onto a balcony the next little way around…each section as beautiful as the next, and I just had to keep stopping to take just “one more shot.” It is very hard to pick just one picture of the exterior to share for this blog!
The ladies I rode in with and I decided to leave the Basilica and head over to the Arboretum, if the weather stayed cooperative. It did! I enjoyed seeing it for the first time. There is currently a Bonsai exhibit, an Ikebana exhibit, an herb garden, a group of columns on a hill that came from the U. S. Capitol when it was remodeled, and other wonderful sounding areas that I didn’t have time to see on this trip.
Every place we go on the club photo trips leaves me more impressed than I could have imagined. I have gone to so many wonderful places I would never have seen without the influence of Calvert Photography Club. If you haven’t participated in these trips, please consider joining in!
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