The Basilica of Our Lady (HELIOPOLIS)
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BASILICA OF OUR LADY in Heliopolis is situated on al-Ahram Street. It was donated by Baron Edouard Empain, who founded the beautiful quarter of Heliopolis northeast of Cairo in 1906. He entrusted the architect Alexandre Marcel, a member of the Institut de France, with its construction. The foundation stone of the basilica was laid in November 1910. The style of the basilica resembles that of the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, although is much smaller. The wrought-iron gates were imported from Belgium and installed on July 10, 1929. At the entrance there is a porch with an arcade of four arches supported by eight columns of red granite. The baptistery stands at the southwest comer of the church. The west wall is decorated with modem paintings of two young saints of the nineteenth century: one depicts St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902), and the other St. Domenico Savio (1842-1857). The principal altar is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, the northern altar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the southern altar to St. Joseph. The interior of the church features twenty-two graceful columns of polished red granite, which support arches. Some of the column capitals are carved with acanthus leaves enclosing the monogram of Christ in the middle, which is surmounted by a Greek cross. Baron Empain is buried in the crypt, which was built of gray granite underneath the principal altar.