On August 22, 1990, the feast of the Virgin Mary’s queenship, ground was broken for a main Church that today sits 2,000 people, with standing room for many more. With the blessing of St. Pope John Paul II, this church became the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando.
Today, the Basilica hosts a multitude of works of art expressing the life of Christ and the history of the Church. One can find beautiful stained glass windows, sculptures, mosaics, oil paintings, perfectly manicured landscaping, and the magnificent architecture of the Basilica itself. Adjacent structures include a Museum of Religious Art, an Interactive Pilgrimage Center, a bell tower, and a gift shop. The grounds are extensive with gardens, ponds, and a stone pathway that forms the five decades of the Rosary. Altogether, the site is a wonderful and art-filled area celebrating the Catholic faith.
On January 6th, 2017, the 7th grade class of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School visited the Basilica to learn more about our Catholic Faith. Fifty-five students were split in ten groups and ten tour guides walked with the students to ten selected stations in and out of the Church. Students Katherine and Lily shared their experiences about their visit to the Basilica. Katherine was particularly impressed with the original oil painting of “La Imaculada” by Esteban Murillo, which shows Our Blessed Lady being assumed into Heaven. Lily was deeply touched by a bronze sculpture of “St. Joseph and the Child Jesus” that depicts Joseph and a young Jesus in the carpenter shop.
I highly recommend Catholic schools in the area to take a field trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. It is both a great teaching tool as well as a sacred place for reflection and inspiration.
Article written by Henri R., an 8th grader at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School, Altamonte.