The Trinity Dome: The Crowning Jewel of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The dedication today of the Trinity Dome mosaic, the crowning jewel of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, marks the completion of a pilgrimage that began nearly a century ago, with the laying of the shrine’s foundation stone in 1920. The final touches on this sanctuary of prayer are thanks to the overwhelming support of the nation’s Catholics, just as they have contributed from the very beginning. This outpouring demonstrates the faithful’s love for Mary – the mother of Jesus and the mother of the Church, whose “yes” gave us our Savior and who shows us the way to him.

The dramatic new mosaic shows the Blessed Mother with her arms outstretched, leading us, as represented by a procession of saints, to the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Included in this pilgrim journey are 18 saints and blesseds from all backgrounds and walks of life, but with a special connection to the Americas and to the Basilica. Among these inspirational holy men and women who now pray for us in heaven are Saint John Paul II, who visited and prayed at the shrine in 1979, Blessed Paul VI, who visited before he became pope and whose papal tiara is on display there, and Saint John XXIII, who was pope when the Great Upper Church was dedicated in 1959.

The base of the dome is ringed by the words of the Creed. Pope Francis blessed the section with the beginning and concluding words, “I believe in one God” and “Amen,” during his 2015 visit to the Basilica, where he celebrated the Canonization Mass for Saint Junípero Serra, the great missionary who is also depicted in the work.

The papal connection so evident in the mosaic and a part of the shrine reminds Catholics of their connection to Peter, the rock on whom Christ built his Church. Meanwhile, we could say that the millions of pieces of colored glass in the mosaic symbolize the universality of the Church, including the diverse pilgrims from across the country and around the world who come to pray here, offering the gifts of their different backgrounds and heritages. United in faith in the Lord Jesus, together these elements reflect the beauty and transcendence of God’s holy Church.

Tomorrow, our archdiocesan family of faith is invited to join the Walk with Mary procession and Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. The celebration starts at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart for another pilgrimage to the house of Mary, reminding us that our journey of faith continues with our Blessed Mother showing us the way to God, as depicted in the Trinity Dome. This happens not only through dramatic, colorful artwork, but by saying “yes” to the Lord each day of our lives.