The Incarnation Dome located inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, is the 2nd installment of a 3 part series of mosaic Domes. The artwork, designed by Leandro Miguel Velasco of the Rambusch Decorating Company, is based on the original 1958 design of John de Rosen. The dome divides into four quadrants depicting the incarnation or manifestation of Jesus Christ. The Knights of Columbus provided the funding for this dome.
The first challenge of installing the mosaic was to safely transport the scaffolding system from the Redemption Dome to the South bay, known as the Incarnation Dome. This scaffold would allow craftsmen to proceed with installation every day for several months, while not blocking the Mass-goers or their views of the altar. Both phases of the project were performed without any accidents or injuries over a two and half year period, which was a significant accomplishment, considering the dome mosaics are 90′ above the floor.
The dome itself is an extraordinary representation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The mosaic was produced in northern Italy and consisted of a 12-foot tall figures and over 800,000 tesserae tiles. Over 100 colors of tesserae, as well as 24-carat gold leaf tiles, were used to complete the dome, which measures 54 feet across. Each section was completed in panels and represented different significant points and people in the life of Jesus Christ. The inner-circle illustrates the incarnation of Jesus. The Annunciation, the Nativity, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the Transfiguration.
Each of the four corners (or pendentives) of the Incarnation dome displays a full mosaic. The four pendentives portray significant persons from the spiritual and prophetic accounts of the incarnation of Jesus. The southwest mosaic is the Prophet Jeremiah, the northwest is the Prophet Jeremiah, the northeast is the Matriarch Sarah, and the southeast is the Prophet Micah.
The encircling test:: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory – glory as of the Only Begotten of our Father, full of grace and of truth”. ( John 1:14)
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a staple of divine beauty in the United States of America. The mosaic work at the Incarnation Dome in the National Shrine is a beautifully designed and crafted addition to the church. We are proud to have had the opportunity to rise to the challenge of performing the 2nd phase of such incredible work.