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How do I get the special indulgence for the Year of Faith when I visit the Basilica for the National Prayer Vigil for Life?
During the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has granted the faithful the chance to obtain, through God's grace, a special plenary indulgence. The Basilica has been named the national pilgrimage destination in the United States where a plenary indulgence may be obtained during the Year of Faith. A pilgrimage or visit to the Basilica in January for the National Prayer Vigil for Life is an act of devotion that qualifies for obtaining this special indulgence. The usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence apply, including sacramental confession, the reception of Holy Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, as well as complete detachment from all sin, even venial sin (for more on indulgences, see the Appendix to Popular Devotional Practices).Is there reserved seating for the Masses?
No. The only exception is reserved seating for those with disabilities. See below.
Will I get a seat for the Masses?
Please be aware that you will most likely stand during the Opening Mass. Those who would like a seat may sit in the pews after the regularly scheduled daily Masses are completed and must remain in their seats until the Opening Mass begins. Personal belongings may not be used to reserve seats. For security purposes, ushers are instructed to remove all unattended bags, coats and other items left in the pews or on the floor.
Additional seating is available on the lower level in the Crypt Church and Memorial Hall. The Blessed Sacrament will be distributed in these areas during Communion. Monitors and sound are also provided. Seating is usually adequate in the Great Upper Church for the Closing Mass at 7:30 am the following day, so lower level seating is not provided for this Mass.
Is there seating at the Masses for those with disabilities?
Yes. Due to space constraints and the overwhelming crowd, this seating is limited to those with mobility and hearing concerns. This seating is on a first-come, first serve basis. Please arrive no later than half an hour before Mass begins since any remaining seats will be filled at that time. Caregivers and family members are asked to leave seats open for those in need. If necessary, a person seated in this section may be accompanied by a companion.
Please respect the requests of the ushers assigned to this section as some rearranging may be necessary to accommodate the needs of as many as possible (e.g. those with walkers may need to sit on the end of the pew). This reserved seating is located in the front pew section of the Great Upper Church directly in front of the lectern. Sign language interpretation will be provided directly in front of this area.
Do I need tickets?
No tickets are required for any of the National Prayer Vigil for Life events held at the Basilica. All are welcome to attend.
Can clergy participate in the National Prayer Vigil for Life Opening and Closing Masses?
When can buses drop off pilgrims for the Closing Mass?
Buses may begin drop offs at 5:30 am the morning of the March for Life. Only those pilgrims heading to the Crypt Church for Holy Hours will be allowed into the Basilica before this time. Groups dropping off pilgrims are encouraged to contact their bus company and arrange an appropriate arrival time.
Do people really pray all night long? How do they do it?
Yes. Hundreds of faithful seminarians from across the country take turns leading an hour of prayer and adoration from midnight until 6:00 am. Pilgrims participating in holy hours in the Crypt Church may enter the Basilica through the lower level door by the gift shop.
What about security concerns?
Due to the unique nature of this event as an all-night vigil, the co-sponsors make every effort to provide a safe and prayerful environment for all participants. Additional security is provided both in the parking lots and inside the Basilica. Controlled access is provided throughout the night only for those entering to pray at Holy Hours. Please note that all vigil participants are responsible for the security of their own valuables.
What happens if there's a snowstorm?
The prayer vigil is held rain, snow or shine. Pilgrims should check the Basilica web site for changes due to inclement weather. Basilica staff is prepared to treat walkways, but advises guests to use caution.
May visitors to the National Shrine during the weekend of the Roe v. Wade anniversary attend other non-Vigil Masses?
Yes. Visitors are welcome to attend any of the scheduled Masses at the Basilica. If your group has more than fifteen people attending a scheduled Mass, please notify the Basilica's Visitor Services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please refer to www.nationalshrine.com for Mass times.
For a beautiful liturgy that avoids the evening crowds, please consider attending the daily noon Mass.
Priests visiting the National Shrine are welcome to concelebrate at any of the already scheduled Masses but must notify the Basilica's Visitor Services at email@example.com. Please bring your alb. A chasuble and stole will be provided.
Where do groups stay?
All visitors should plan their own lodging. Groups may contact the Archdiocese of Washington at 301-853-4555 or the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia at 703-841-3817 for assistance finding parishes that may be able to arrange lodging.
What is allowed inside the Basilica?
Please limit personal belongings to one small personal bag or purse per person. No luggage or rolling bags are allowed. No banners, posters, or flags may be displayed. No cards, brochures or pamphlets or any other outside materials may be displayed or distributed either inside or on the grounds of the Basilica.
Where can I find a snack or meal during the Prayer Vigil?
Both the Basilica and the nearby campus of Catholic University of America have food available. See times below:
The morning of the March for Life, free coffee and doughnuts are available at 6:30 am. A hot breakfast is available for purchase at 7:00 am. The Basilica's cafeteria is open for dinner until 5 pm. on weekdays.
The Pryzbyla Center at CUA has food available at the Loft Convenience Store on the first floor and the Student Restaurant on the third floor. On weekdays, the Student Restaurant opens at 7:30 am, the Loft Convenience Store opens at 8:00 am, and the second floor Food Court opens at 8:00 am.
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