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National Prayer Vigil for Life Frequently Asked Questions


Is there reserved seating for the Masses?

No. The only exception is reserved seating for those with disabilities. Persons with disabilities who are in need of an accommodation should submit an online request.

Will I get a seat for the Masses?

Please be aware that you will most likely stand during the Opening Mass. Those who would like a seat may sit in the pews after the regularly scheduled daily Masses are completed and must remain in their seats until the Opening Mass begins. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and may not be held for other visitors. Personal belongings may not be used to reserve seats. For security purposes, ushers are instructed to remove all unattended bags, coats and other items left in the pews or on the floor.

Additional seating is available on the lower level in the Crypt Church and Memorial Hall. The Blessed Sacrament will be distributed in these areas during Communion. Monitors and sound are also provided.

Do I need tickets?

No tickets are required for any of the National Prayer Vigil for Life events held at the Basilica.  All are welcome to attend.

Can clergy participate in the National Prayer Vigil for Life Opening and Closing Masses?

Yes. All clergy (priests and deacons) are required to present a letter of suitability. Please click the following hyperlinked texts to access the online registration forms for concelebrating the opening and closing masses. Please also see the Basilica's website for other important information.


When can buses drop off pilgrims for the Closing Mass?


Buses may begin drop-offs at 5:30 am the morning of the March for Life. Only those pilgrims heading to the Crypt Church for Holy Hours will be allowed into the Basilica before this time. Groups dropping off pilgrims are encouraged to contact their bus company and arrange an appropriate arrival time.

Do people really pray all night long? How do they do it?

Yes. Hundreds of faithful seminarians from across the country take turns leading an hour of prayer and adoration from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 am. Pilgrims participating in Holy Hours in the Crypt Church may enter the Basilica through the lower level door by the gift shop.

What about security concerns?

Due to the unique nature of this event as an all-night vigil, the co-sponsors make every effort to provide a safe and prayerful environment for all participants. Additional security is provided both in the parking lots and inside the Basilica. Controlled access is provided throughout the night only for those entering to pray at Holy Hours. Please note that all vigil participants are responsible for the security of their own valuables.

What happens if there's a snowstorm?

The prayer vigil is held rain, snow or shine. Pilgrims should check the Basilica web site for changes due to inclement weather. Walkways at the Basilica are treated promptly. Pilgrims and visitors are advised to use caution.

May visitors to the National Shrine during the week of the Roe v. Wade anniversary attend other non-Vigil Masses?

Yes. Visitors are welcome to attend any of the scheduled Masses at the Basilica. If your group has more than fifteen people attending a scheduled Mass, please notify the Basilica's Visitor Services by e-mailing

Please refer to the Basilica's website for the Basilica's Daily and Sunday Mass schedule.

For a beautiful liturgy that avoids the evening crowds, please consider attending the daily noon Mass.

Priests visiting the National Shrine are welcome to concelebrate at any of the already scheduled Masses but must notify the Basilica's Visitor Services at in advance. Please bring your alb. A chasuble and stole will be provided. Priests wishing to concelebrate at the Basilica are required to submit a Testimonial of Suitability from their Bishop or Religious Superior in advance. Please contact the Basilica's Director of Visitor Services at for more information.

Where do groups stay?

All visitors should plan their own lodging. Groups may contact the Archdiocese of Washington at 301-853-4555 or the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia at 703-841-3817 for assistance finding parishes that may be able to arrange lodging.

What is allowed inside the Basilica?

Please limit personal belongings to one small personal bag or purse per person. No luggage or rolling bags are allowed. No banners, posters, or flags may be displayed. No cards, brochures or pamphlets or any other outside materials may be displayed or distributed either inside or on the grounds of the Basilica.

Where can I find a snack or meal during the Prayer Vigil?

Both the Basilica and the nearby campus of The Catholic University of America have food available. See times below:

The Basilica's cafeteria is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on January 23. On January 24, the morning of the March for Life, a hot breakfast is available for purchase beginning at 6:30 am. The Basilica's cafeteria will remain open on January 24 until 5:00 p.m.

The Pryzbyla Center at The Catholic University of America has food available to pilgrims during January 23-24. The university convenience store, "The POD," is located on the first floor and is open from 8:00 a.m. – midnight on weekdays. The university food court is located on the second floor and is open on weekdays from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Murphy's Grill, located on the ground floor, is open from 11am-11pm.

Is Parking available at the Basilica during the Prayer Vigil and on the Day of the March for Life?

Parking for buses and cars at the Vigil for Life Mass on January 23 is available on a first come, first served basis in the Shrine's Lower Lot and on Harewood Road and 4th Street.

Bus parking for January 24 is available by permit only. At this time, there are no additional permits available.


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