Golden halls of the National Shrine filled with thousands of worshipers for Christmas Day mass
WASHINGTON - Christmas time is certainly special in D.C., especially at one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the world.
More than 15,000 people will have walked through the doors of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for Christmas masses this year.
As the songs of angels filled the golden halls, thousands stood in the church pews basking in a gentle winter light on Christmas Day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast D.C.
For decades, Christmas has been celebrated and everyone is welcome. And as worshipers rejoiced above, hard-working volunteers are down below, making sure everyone was fed a delicious Christmas dinner.
"We receive such joy from being able to share. This in many ways is our Christmas present to be able to be here and to serve others," says Valencia Camp, who says this is the 41st year she has coordinated this special meal for those who are in need or alone on Christmas. However, she says people from all walks of life come to sit, eat and enjoy.
"We have strangers sitting together with each other. We have strangers volunteering side by side with each other and it doesn't matter the age or the parish or anything. They are here for a common purpose," she says.
The Santana family from Costa Rica says this is more than just a dinner, it's a reunion long in the making.
"For my family, this is my first time here, all together here."
"I'll visit with as many as I can and of course dressed like this. The kids think I'm Santa so that adds a special note to it."
While Santa has technically already come and gone, the Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl says the Spirit of Christmas should be remembered all year long.
"Christmas is all about God loving us and asking us to love one another. Imagine what this world would be like, imagine what this city would be like if we actually put that into practice and tried -- tried to love one another and sometimes in very simple ways," says Cardinal Wuerl.