The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary located in Baltimore, Maryland is America's first cathedral. Its ranking is that of a minor cathedral. It is also considered a national shrine, a Marian Shrine, a National Historic Landmark, and it is Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The cathedral, often referred to as The Basilica, was built between 1806 and 1821. It underwent restoration that began in 2004 and was completed in 2006. The restoration returned the church to its original design conceived by John Caroll, America's first bisop, and architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
The Basilica runs a regular Catholic mass schedule. Monday through Friday they have masses at 7:30 am and 12:10 pm. Saturday masses are scheduled for 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. Sunday masses offered include one at 7:30 am, 9:00 am performed in Latin, 10:45 am which is a choir mass, and 4:00 and 5:30 pm, both music masses. Confession is offered seven days per week, as well as the praying of the rosary. Stations of the Cross are performed at 3:00 pm on Fridays during Lent.
Those wishing to be married at the Basilica must enroll in the Catholic marriage preparation course beforehand. Either the bride or groom must be Catholic, and their marriage license must be obtained in Baltimore City. Weddings are scheduled for Saturdays at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm. The cathedral often books up years in advance, so it is suggested that brides make contact soon after their engagement and plan their wedding well in advance if they have a desire to marry in the Basilica. Baptisms and the Adult Rite of Christian Initian can also be scheduled. View the website or contact The Basilica if you wish to speak with someone about either of these ceremonies.
The Basilica schedules a variety of cultural events such as concerts and Catholic lectures throughout the year. These are a wonderful way to view The Basilica and enjoy entertainment from a variety of people. They typically list their event schedule on their website. People are also welcome to visit the church throughout the week. It is open from 7-4:30 am Monday through Friday. On Saturdays and Sunday they are open from 7:00 am until the end of their last mass. Their gift shop is open from 10-4:00 pm Monday through Saturday and 11-4 pm on Sunday. Guided tours are offered, but are not necessary. Visitation offers a chance to tour the church and guests are welcome to stay for mass. Those who wish to tour with a large group of ten or more are required to make a reservation. The guided tour is approximately 45 minutes and can include a tour of the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden. Plan an addition 15 minutes if you would like to include the garden in your tour.
After your visit, there are a variety of activities near The Basilica for you to enjoy. The church is located near the Mt. Vernon area which is one of Baltimore's best cultural districts. You can enjoy the Walter's Art Museum, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Peabody Institute, or a play at Center Stage. There are also a number of restaurants nearby including Sotta Sopra, Ban Thai, Tio Pepe, and Milton's Grill.
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