I’ve never been to DC, so I can’t personally recommend any sites, but when the Pope was here recently the newspaper USA Today ran an article which mentioned possible sites of interest to tourists:
The Washington area’s connection to Catholic history spans nearly 400 years. Just 60 miles from the city, a large cross in St. Clement’s Island State Park, Md., marks the spot where the first Mass in English-speaking North America was celebrated in 1634, according to Kim Cullins, a spokeswoman for St. Clement’s Island Museum; www.stmarysmd.com/recreate/museums. Maryland was then a new colony with a Catholic governor. The area is now part of the Archdiocese of Washington.
St. Mary’s County — where St. Clement’s Island is located — includes the Newtowne parish, which dates to 1640, and St. Ignatius Church, which was built in 1798 but includes an older chapel from the 1600s. Grounds include an old cemetery, outdoor prayer area and a hilltop view of two rivers; www.chapelpoint.org.
Back in Washington, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 400 Michigan Ave., NE —www.nationalshrine.com— is one of the largest churches in the world, according to Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs. The church is dedicated to Mary, and its chapels include different representations of Mary from cultures around the world. The basilica is adjacent to Catholic University.
President Kennedy’s funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, and the famous photo of John Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket was taken there. Gibbs added that an annual Mass is held there on the Sunday before the Supreme Court session opens each October “to pray for the justices and others in the administration of justice.” The cathedral is located at 1725 Rhode Island Avenue, NW; www.stmatthewscathedral.org.
Another noteworthy church is St. Augustine at 15th and V streets, NW. The parish was founded by emancipated black Catholics 150 years ago, and today the church is known for an outstanding gospel choir; www.saintaugustine-dc.org/html/history.html.
The Franciscan Monastery at 1400 Quincy St. NE, “is one of the hidden treasures of Washington and is particularly beautiful in the spring,” said Gibbs. “It contains replicas of the shrines of the Holy Land and peaceful gardens.” Tours are offered Monday-Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., and on Sundays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tours are free, but donations are welcome; www.myfranciscan.org. Groups should call ahead, 202-526-6800.