The Baltimore Basilica, officially known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the first Catholic church to be constructed in United States after the adoption of the new constitution. The beautiful neoclassical basilica, whose grand portico resembles a Greek temple, was built between in Baltimore, Maryland between 1806 and 1821 and has been hailed as a major monument in American architectural history.
The basilica is referred to as the "Mother Church of Catholicism" in the United States and was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the first architect of the U.S. Capitol Building. At that time, in terms of size, scale, and architectural sophistication, only the Capitol was comparable to the cathedral.
The majestic cathedral, situated on a hill above Baltimore Harbor, is the location of the country's first archdiocese. The first American Bishop, Archbishop, parochial school, Order of African-American nuns, and African-American parish diocese came under its auspices. The basilica was raised to the rank of a "Minor Basilica" in 1937.
Since 1976, the basilica has been visited by luminaries like the late Mother Teresa, Ste. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and the late Pope John Paul II.
In 1993, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the Cathedral a National Shrine.
Owing to its great historical and architectural significance, the basilica has been named as a National Historic Landmark. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.