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The History of Pilgrimage

The practice of pilgrimage is rooted in Judaic tradition and the journey to Jerusalem.  In the early days of Christianity, the faithful continued this tradition, eagerly journeying to the Holy Land to visit and pray at those places associated with the life of Christ.
During the sixth century, the pilgrimage became a penitential exercise.  At the beginning of the tenth century, it assumed the character and form of tourism.  In time, pilgrimages became acts of religious devotion that included not only penitential themes, but also those of intercession and gratitude.  Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Mother were the major pilgrimage sites and remain so today. 

The Basilica - A Pilgrimage Church

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a pilgrimage church.  It is also the preeminent Marian Shrine of the United States.  With over 70 chapels and oratories that relate to the Blessed Mother and peoples from countries around the world, one can virtually make a pilgrimage to many of the great Marian shrines of the world and receive their same graces and indulgences by visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Pilgrimages at the Basilica

Annually, the Basilica welcomes thousands of individual pilgrims as well as scores of diocesan, ethnic and group pilgrimages of all sizes throughout the year. 
As in the devotional tradition of centuries past, pilgrims to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception may participate in the Sacrament of Penance as well as the celebration of Mass and special Marian devotions. 
Pilgrims may also take guided tours of the Basilica, find religious items and books in our Gift Shop and Book Store, and frequently dine with us in our Cafeteria.

Schedule a Pilgrimage

To schedule a pilgrimage for groups of 150 or more, please contact Monsignor Vito A. Buonanno, Director of Pilgrimages, at 202-526-8300.

Upcoming Pilgrimages

For the schedule of upcoming pilgrimages to the Basilica click here.

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