Friday, July 22, 2011

Baltimore Basilica

 I recently took a road trip with my family and wanted to share some of the interesting sights!

Finished in 1821, the Baltimore Basilica is America's First Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When it was built, it was the most architecturally advanced building on the continent, rivaled only by the U.S. Capital building.

The House of God has a most distinguished history in the service of God. Under its roof were 3 Plenary Councils. The First in 1852 "extended the legislation of the Seven Provincial Councils to the entire country." The Second Plenary Council in 1866 (whose guests included President Andrew Johnson) "called for the evangelization of Native and African-Americans. The Third Plenary Council, the largest meeting of Catholic Bishops held outside of Rome since the Council of Trent (December 13, 1545-December 4, 1563), commissioned the famous Baltimore Catechism, which taught generations of Catholics the basics of their faith."

Fun Facts: The founder of the Knights of Columbus was ordained here, and St. John Henry Newman was raised to a cardinal here. Pope John Paul II and Blessed Theresa of Calcutta have both visited here.

Present in the sanctuary were the three signs of its Basilica status:

1. The ombrellone, an umbrella which was used as protection from the weather in processions (the red and yellow one on the right).

2. The tintinnabulum, A bell mounted on a pole used to announce papal processions (to the right of the chandelier on the left).

3. The Papal Coat of Arms (Just above the chair under the red drapery).

And a cardinal's red hat, or galero, hangs from the ceiling in the church (which is over his tomb in the crypt). It will hang there out of respect until it disintegrates to symbolize how all earthly glory passes! If you look closely in the picture above, you can see me pointing it (the hat is out of view) out to the Mamasita.

Underneath the church was a crypt that included old vestments of varying importance. One was a set of vestments one of the Irish priests had brought from Ireland, made from Irish poplin and embroidered with Celtic designs (no picture). The other vestments remind me of the ones I saw in one of the California missions. Wealthy women used to donate their silk party dresses for vestments, which is why many of them are floral.

Sweet, Sweet Crypt

Not that far down the road was the grave of Edgar Allan Poe at Westminster Church.

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