The foundation stone was laid in 1920, and the Crypt Church and Crypt level, where the tour began, were completed in 1926 and 1931, respectively.
The Great Upper Church wasn't completed until 1959, and the embellishment of the interior continues to this day. There are 7 main domes and more than 70 chapels and oratories throughout. That's a whole lot of church there.
Nearly every square inch of this place is covered in Byzantine style tile mosaics. In a word: breathtaking! They range from relatively small wall plaques, to the alcoves of the chapels, and on up to massive walls and domes. Christ in Majesty alone has more than 4000 shades and colors of tiles.
The mosaic interior is calculated to be about 75, 545 square feet!
Seriously, these are not paintings, all tile work!
This dome was one of my favorites. As a quilter, I was ready to go home and pull some fabrics to start making these amazing star blocks immediately. Someday....
The lighting in here was pretty amazing too, including this gorgeous Tiffany chandelier in a little Irish chapel off the entrance.
My mom wanted to buy herself a book, so I hung out amongst all the Pope Francis paraphernalia while waiting for her. It is my middle name, after all.
As if that wasn't enough Catholicism for one day, some guy mentioned there was another shrine right down the road dedicated to Pope John Paul II. I have no idea why the Blessed John Paul II Shrine is so incredibly huge and has such modern architecture, but it's sure to be a hotbed of activity when he is canonized later this month. The highlight? Getting my folks to take a selfie with JP2!