Watch: Easter ‘Alleluia’ from Basilica of the National Shrine in D.C.

The solemn Easter Vigil Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, Saturday evening.

Though the pews were empty due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the liturgy at the National Shrine, also known as “America’s Catholic Church,” was livestreamed and televised by EWTN Global Catholic Network.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, served as the celebrant and homilist as the Church ushered in the Easter season.

The basilica is a National Sanctuary of Prayer and Pilgrimage as designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In 1846, the Catholic bishops of America declared the Blessed Virgin the patroness of the United States. According to the National Shrine:

That year, the Lowell Courier Journal, a newspaper in Massachusetts, wrote of “a magnificent Catholic Church to be built at Washington, D.C. after the manner of the great cathedrals of the Old World from subscriptions of every Catholic Parish in America.”

The basilica’s foundation was begun in 1920 through the generosity of generations of American Catholics.

In 1979, St. John Paul II became the first pope to visit the National Shrine, and said about it:

This Shrine speaks to us with the voice of all America, with the voice of all the sons and daughters of America, who have come here from the various countries…. When they came, they brought with them in their hearts the same love for the Mother of God that was characteristic of their ancestors and of themselves in their native lands. These people, speaking different languages, coming from different backgrounds of history and traditions in their own countries, came together around the heart of a Mother they all had in common.

The National Shrine will also livestream Easter Sunday Mass at 12:00 p.m. EST.

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