Above: IWP students and interns on the steps of the National Shrine
On November 6, IWP students and interns visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Professor Paul Schilling, who volunteers as a docent at the Shrine, served as their tour guide. The Basilica, also known as Mary’s Shrine, is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America and one of the ten largest churches in the world. It is home to more than 80 chapels and oratories that honor Mary. Many are associated with the various groups and nationalities that immigrated to the United States and with various Catholic religious orders. The IWP group joined the list of Shrine visitors, including its many special guests such as Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Saint John Paul II, and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
During the tour, Professor Schilling took the group through the Basilica’s chapels and oratories. He shared details about the various depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus found throughout the Shrine in mosaics, statues, paintings, and other artwork. The tour started in the historic Founder’s Chapel that honors Bishop Thomas Shahan, the founder of the Shrine. It then proceeded through the lower level, including the Hall of American Saints and the Crypt Church. Moving to the Upper Church, the group viewed the Trinity Dome, the newest work of art at the Shrine and one of the five Domes that help make the Shrine a Byzantine-Romanesque-style church. The tour’s conclusion included a close-up view of the mosaic “Christ in Majesty” that overlooks the Upper Church.
The group then adjourned for coffee and a pleasant discussion of the morning’s events.
Prof. Schilling, who formerly served with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of General Counsel, teaches a course on Intelligence and the Law at IWP.