If you’ll be in the nation’s capital for Christmas 2011, why not come to one of the city’s iconic churches for a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service? Here are five of the most historic churches and the Christmas services they offer:
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America and one of the ten largest churches in the world. It’s renowned for its Romanesque-Byzantine architecture and having the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art.
Christmas Eve: Children’s mass at 5 PM and a solemn mass at 10:30 PM.
Christmas Day: Masses at 7:30 AM, 9 AM, 10:30 AM, a solemn mass at noon, and 2:30 PM (in Spanish).
Where: The National Shrine is at 400 Michigan Ave., NE, which is accessible by Metro at the Brookland/CUA stop. The church also has free parking.
The Washington National Cathedral is an iconic part of the Washington skyline with its 30-story center tower and 231 stained glass windows. Since opening its doors in 1912, the church has welcomed people of all faiths and perspectives.
Christmas Eve: Passes are required for the Christmas Eve services and the church is no longer handing them out.
Christmas Day: The church is offering several non-ticket Christmas Day services, including a Festival Holy Eucharist service at 9 AM; a Holy Eucharist service with carols at 12 PM; a service of lessons and carols at 4 PM; and an organ recital at 5:15 PM.
Where: The Washington National Cathedral is at 3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Parking is available in the Cathedral’s underground parking. The nearest Metro stop is Cleveland Park, which is a little less than a mile away.
St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square is an Episcopalian church across from the White House. Established in 1815, the church welcomes people of all faiths. It also has a rich Washington history, having had every U.S. president attend a service in pew No. 54 since opening its doors.
Christmas Eve: Carols and anthems at 4:30 PM, with a pageant and holy Eucharist following at 5 PM. Another similar service will be held at 7 PM and 10:30 PM, followed by a festival choral eucharist at 11 PM.
Christmas Day: Services start at 7:45 AM with a Holy Eucharist and Homily; then at 9 AM and 11 AM there’s a Choral Holy Eucharist and Sermon; and a Spanish sermon will be held at 1 PM.
Where: The church at 1525 H Street, NW. The closest Metro stop is McPherson Square.
The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is another iconic Washington church. Established in 1840, the church held the funeral mass of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and hosted Pope John Paul II in 1979.
Christmas Eve: Services start at 4 PM with a concert by The Contemporary Choir, followed by a vigil mass at 4:30 PM. A Spanish language mass will start at 6:30 PM, followed by a solemn mass at 10 PM. A concert will be held at 9:15 PM.
Christmas Day: Masses at 8:30 AM, 10 AM, 11:30 AM and a Spanish language mass at 1 PM.
Where: The church is at 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW with a parking garage adjacent to the church available on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The nearest Metro stops are Farragut North at the L Street exit and the Dupont Circle stop at the South exit.
The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land is a national historic site established in 1899 that includes the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church, built in Byzantine style with Romanesque influences, has a floor plan in a five-fold Crusader Cross of Jerusalem. The surrounding church of the Rosary Portico has 15 chapels commemorating the lives of Jesus and Mary, as well as early Christian symbols from the Catacombs.
Christmas Eve: Vigil at 5 PM and midnight, as well as a choral celebration at 11:30 PM.
Christmas Day: Mass at 8 AM, 10 AM and noon.
Where: The monastery is at 1400 Quince St., NE. The closest Metro stop is Brookland-CUA, which is a little more than a half mile away.