Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome Dedicated
At a Nov. 17 Mass celebrated by Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception dedicated its new Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome.
The 3,780 square-foot mosaic is located above the nave near the shrine’s main entrance. The Order committed $1 million in funding for the project, led by the efforts of the Fourth Degree.
The dome depicts four biblical references relating to the incarnation of Jesus Christ: the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the Nativity (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-21), the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), and the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-13 and Luke 9:28-36).
View dedication remarks by Cardinal Justin Rigali and Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the National Shrine, and the homily from the dedication Mass by 160;of Washington.
Following are Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson's remarks at the dedication:
The Knights of Columbus today rejoices as we celebrate this beautiful addition to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception. This year we celebrate our 125th anniversary as Knights of Columbus. We also celebrate 87 years of a wonderful partnership since that day in 1920 when a Knights of Columbus honor guard stood at attention while His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons laid the corner stone.
1959 saw the dedication of the famed Knights Tower. Recent years have seen many memorable events: our Jubilee Year Pilgrimage which was the largest ever in the history of the Shrine; our September 11 anniversary Day of Remembrance and Prayer for Peace and our two Knights of Columbus Eucharistic Congresses. In these and so many other ways Mary’s Knights have truly found a home in Mary’s house.
Today we celebrate the central truth of our faith – Christ coming to us as man. Our God is not an abstraction, he is real. It is Jesus, who the Second Vatican Council reminds us is the key to understanding our own humanity. In the words of Gaudium et Spes: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” (22)
The dome’s theme of the Incarnation is very timely. In recent years we have seen the emergence of a new militant atheism. You may have seen some of the new books attacking the very idea of God. Some have even become best sellers. The authors of these books find no room for the idea of God in their life or their universe. For them, God is an abstraction or the author of a universe controlled by impersonal laws and mechanisms. Of course, they are free to believe or not believe in God.
They are not free, however, to reject history. And so they are not free to easily dismiss the person who entered history and who changed it forever. They are not free to dismiss the person of Jesus: the one who for more than 2,000 years has changed hearts and changed lives and who loved each one of us even to the cross.
As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book Jesus of Nazareth: “It is of the very essence of biblical faith to be about real historical events. It does not tell stories symbolizing truths, but it is based on history, history that took place on earth.” And the pope continues, “Et incarnatus est – when we say these words, we acknowledge God’s actual entry into real history.”
This is why in celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus we have chosen to highlight the reality of God in history in an enduring way. We have chosen to make possible the creation of a beautiful new work of art in honor of the Incarnation. Indeed, the new Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome testifies to the cause for our hope: that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son into it to redeem it.
And so in dedicating this beautiful work of sacred art today, let each of us dedicate something even more important. We may not be artisans of mosaic, but all of us are artisans of life. Let each of us dedicate our own lives – to make a personal witness to the reality of the Incarnation.
Each of us has a unique opportunity to do so through our families and our parishes – to build through our own lives an Incarnation Dome from living stones.