When the Trinity Dome project is dedicated in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, many Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton will feel a special and understandable connection.
Like many of their counterparts across the country, parishioners in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties responded generously earlier this year when asked to contribute to the historic project that adorns the shrine’s central and largest dome with a mosaic in keeping with the original iconographic scheme of the Great Upper Church.
The special collection for the Trinity Dome was held in May, fittingly on Mother’s Day, throughout dioceses in the United States. The Diocese of Trenton augmented the donations sent in by its parishes, in order to be able to contribute $100,000 to the work at the shrine, which is being prepared for the 100th anniversary celebration of the placement of its foundation stone in 2020.
The contribution to the work in what is known as “America’s Catholic Church” was acknowledged in a letter from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, to Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. Cardinal Wuerl wrote, “These proceeds will immediately support the completion of our nation’s preeminent Marian shrine and patronal church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Immaculate Conception.”
“Your diocese’s generosity to this historic project at America’s Catholic Church will leave a lasting legacy of our faith and heritage for untold generations to come,” wrote Cardinal Wuerl.
A website dedicated to the Trinity Dome describes it as the “crowning jewel” of the shrine. The site explains that the mosaic that will be installed around the dome will “depict the Most Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a procession of saints who have an association with the United States and the National Shrine, including, among others, St. Juan Diego (the first canonized male Native American), St. Kateri Tekakwitha (the first canonized female Native American), St. Teresa of Calcutta (an honorary American citizen), St. Francis Cabrini, M.S.C. (the first U.S. citizen to be canonized), St. John Paul II (the first pope to visit the National Shrine), and St. Junípero Serra (declared a saint by Pope Francis in the National Shrine in 2015 for the first canonization ever to take place on American soil). The Nicene Creed will encircle the base of the dome, while the dome’s four pendentives will feature the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”
In October, 2016, during the blessing of the workspace where the mosaic will be installed, rector of the national shrine, Msgr. Walter Rossi, pointed out that the project, like the shrine itself, represents a mosaic of Catholic parishioners from every corner of the globe.
Such was the observation of Pope John Paul II during his 1979 visit to the National Shrine. He said, “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 of the Old World. 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.”
Cardinal Wuerl advised in his letter that the installation of the mosaic is on schedule, and the dedication of the Trinity Dome is planned for Dec. 8 at noon, the patronal feast day of the nation and the shrine. The Cardinal invited Bishop O’Connell to the celebration, saying, “It is my hope that you will be able to join me in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica on this momentous and historic occasion.”
For more information on the Trinity Dome project, visit www.TrinityDome.org.