The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a prominent Latin Rite Catholic basilica located in Washington, D.C., honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States. It is the largest Catholic church in the United States, the eighth largest religious structure in the world, and the tallest building in Washington, D.C.
– Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Wikipedia
Facts, Figures and Features of the Basilica
EXTERIOR (The Great Dome): The Great Dome is a hallmark of the Basilica. Its diameter is more than twice that of the central dome of St. Mark’s in Venice, Italy. It features five Marian symbols:
1) FLEUR DE LIS: A type of lily symbolic of purity and royalty; it signifies Mary as the Queen of Heaven.
2) CEDAR OF LEBANON: A stately majestic tree symbolizing incorruptibility. Treasured as a source of wealth, its timber was used to build the Temple of Solomon. It is a symbol of both Mary and Jesus.
3) TOWER OF IVORY: An architectural symbol of virginity and vigilance; ivory symbolizes purity and moral fortitude. In Christian art, the Tower of Ivory symbolizes the Immaculate Conception.
4) STAR OF THE SEA: The most popular interpretation of the Hebrew name Miryam.
5) INTERTWINING MONOGRAMS OF A AND M: The first letter of the words Ave and Maria, the greeting of the Archangel to Mary at the Annunciation.
Each symbol is contained within a six-pointed Star of David. The six-pointed star of David represents the royal Judaic lineage of Mary-the House of David.
– Facts, Figures and Features of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, NationalShrine.com