Renovations have been undertaken at various points in the history of St. Mary. In 1856, under the pastorate of Reverend Father John E. Blox, SJ, the church expanded significantly, adding a new marble altar and tabernacle, a new organ, stained glass windows, a new bell and belfry tower (then the highest in the City). Less than 40 years later in 1894, the church was rebuilt with a new 135-foot belfry tower and greater seating capacity. In 1995, new lighting was installed and the interior of the sanctuary painted for the Bicentennial Celebration. Fifteen years later in 2010, the parish further renovated the sanctuary and nave with black and white marble.
Dedicated on July 22, 2014, the statue of Saint Thomas is the commission of a notable Italian sculptor who created the statue after the Portrait of Sir Thomas More by the German artist and printmaker, Hans Hoblein the Younger. Faithful to the 1527 original, the saint is depicted in his court attire, wearing the “Collar of Esses” with the “Tudor Rose” pendant, signifying More’s status as the Lord High Chancellor of England (October 1529 – May 1532). The “Collar of Esses” symbolizes the service to the King through the series of “S” shaped links symbolizing “souvant me soviens” meaning “remember me always” from the French Sixteenth Century motto. Donated by parishioners, the statue is particularly significant, as Saint Thomas More is the patron saint of adopted children, attorneys, civil servants, politicians and difficult marriages. Along with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Thomas is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Arlington.
Restored in 1995, the Stations of the Cross consist of fourteen oil paintings on wood panels (mahogany stained frames), subtly polychromatic and with gold leaf accents. The Stations date to the 1857 renovations of the church, which were extensive. At that time, the painting of the Cruci xion was a work by Rembrandt Peale, installed above the Altar and Tabernacle. The Stations of the Cross may have been the work of Edward Schuler, noted in the Alexandria Gazette article of July 16, 1857 as Fresco Painter however, their attribution cannot be confirmed. On the North wall of the Nave, Stations I through VII are installed. On the South wall of the Nave, Stations VIII through XIV are installed.
For the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed in 2015 by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Reverend Father Edward C. Hathaway (Pastor, 2015 – Present) purchased this reproduction of the Rembrandt van Rijn original, which hangs in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Completed circa , the painting is considered Rembrandt s nal word” in which he interprets the passage from the Gospel According to Saint Luke (Luke 15:17-20) in which Our Blessed Lord describes the abundant mercy of God the Father. With the image of Divine Mercy, the Penitential Chapel communicates to those awaiting the Sacrament of Reconciliation the great and unfathomable love that the Father has for each one of his children.
Originally created in 1934 by the Polish artist, Eugene Kazimirowski, the Vilnius Image of the Divine Mercy is the only one painted under the direction of Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska, the Apostle of Divine Mercy. All three versions of The Image of The Divine Mercy (the Vilnius, the Hyla and the Skemp images) have ecclesiastical approval for display in churches and for dissemination to the faithful. The Kazimirowski painting is therefore the original image of The Divine Mercy, the only painting of which was overseen by Saint Faustyna and Venerable Reverend Father Michael Sopocko. The original presently hangs in the Cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania, having been faithfully restored to its original colors and contours.
The white Italian marble of Saint Joseph holding the Infant Jesus is located on the left side of the Altar of Reservation, nearest to the North Transept. Under the pastorate of Reverend Father Louis Smet (1915 – 1927), this statue was purchased from Italy in 1920 and placed above the smaller altar (since removed) that was located on the North side of the Sanctuary. The stained glass window in the South Transept is dedicated to the memory of Father Smet, a beloved Belgian theologian and pastor of the Church of Saint Mary, who also founded Saint Louis Parish in Alexandria.
This Crucifix of Our Lord Jesus Christ is ornately painted and life-size, mounted above the Tabernacle and the Altar of Reservation. It was added in the late 1940s under the pastorate of Monsignor Edward L. Stephens (1943 – 1959). Wood paneling, similar to the style used in the 1940s, graces the Sanctuary today.
This white Italian marble statue of Our Lady of Sorrows with a pewter oral crown (sculpted by the noted international Artist, Reed Armstrong) is located on the right side of the Altar of Reservation, near the South Transept. A parishioner donated this statue in 1895, to mark the Centenary of founding of the parish, when the church was completed and rededicated by the Most Reverend Augustine Van der Vyver, Sixth Bishop of Richmond (1889 – 1911). Since its installation, this statue has been beloved by parishioners and visitors for more than one hundred twenty years. Sometimes titled “The Immaculate Conception” the statue actually bears the hallmarks of Our Lady of Sorrows, with the short veil, bowed head, closed eyes and crossed hands in prayer.
Carved in 1893, this Italian Carrera marble masterwork was commissioned for the Diocese of Albany, where it remained in the Church of Saint Mary until 2010. It follows the devotional form developed by Anglican convert to the Catholic Church Frances Margaret Taylor, known in religious life as Mother Magdalen of the Sacred Heart (1832-1900). Similar images of the Sacred Heart Pleading gained great popularity in Europe and America during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Donated by a parishioner, this statue was restored during the 2010 – 2011 renovations, and was dedicated by Reverend Father Daniel Hanley on July 1, 2011, during the pastorate of Reverend Father Dennis W. Kleinmann (Pastor 2000 – 2015).
Installed in May of 2014 after the canonization of the two great pontiffs of the twentieth-century, these images are a reminder of the Pope of the Council and the Pope of Divine Mercy, who shepherded the Church into the New Millennium. During his canonization homily, His Holiness, Pope Francis noted “they were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.” Donated by a parishioner, the images were installed during the pastorate of Reverend Father Dennis W. Kleinmann.
Donated by a parishioner, this authorized Shrine reproduction of the Tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, bears the seal of the Archbishop No- berto Rivera Carrera, as a facsimile reproduction of the of cial digital archive of the Sacred Original. This archive image was also blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II and was used for the official image celebrating the Great Jubilee of the 2000 years of our Redemption in Mexico. Purchased from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception (Stockbridge, Massachusetts) it was blessed and dedicated by Reverend Father Edward C. Hathaway on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2015.
Installed in 2013, this image is the approved Vatican image of the Holy Father upon his elevation to the Chair of Saint Peter. It is placed in this location as a reminder to the faithful to pray for His Holiness. Because every Minor Basilica is attached in a particular way to the Holy Father, it is important to the faithful to have an image of His Holiness prominently displayed at the South Transept entrance to the church.
Unfortunately, little is known about this statue, which is a polychrome plaster statue of the Saint. These are similar to the statue of the Sacred Heart (also polychrome plaster) which dates to the 1940s.
Please see the description for A25 above.
The Basilica of Saint Mary
310 South Royal Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
313 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Monday-Friday: 9:00am – 7:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 4:00pm