At the center of the Shrine's lower level is Memorial Hall, which takes its name from the 14,400 tablets of Travertine marble and Radio Black granite inscribed with the names of benefactors -- individuals, families, and religious communities -- who are also enrolled in the perpetual remembrances of the Shrine.
The eight marble foundation piers in the hall record the names and events of "firsts" in the U.S. Catholic Church: Archbishop John J. Keane, founder and first rector of The Catholic University of America; John Cardinal McCloskey, first Cardinal; Bishop John England, first bishop of Charleston, S.C., and publisher of the first Catholic newspaper; St. John Neumann, fourth bishop of Philadelphia, first professed Redemptorist in the United States, and founder of the 40-hour eucharistic devotion; Archbishop John Carroll, S.J., first American bishop and founder of Georgetown University; Archbishop John J . Hughes, first archbishop of New York, and founder of St. Patrick's Cathedral; Fr. Demetrius Gallitzin, missionary, first priest ordained in the original thirteen colonies; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder and first superior of the Sisters of Charity.
In 1937, sculptor Henry Donohue was commissioned to fashion the statue Mary, Mother of Mankind. A gift of Judge and Mrs. Philip Brennan, the statue was unveiled and dedicated May 8, 1938.
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Mankind
Mother, I commend and entrust to you
all that goes to make up earthly progress,
asking that it should not be one-sided,
but that it should create conditions
for the full spiritual advancement of individuals,
families, communities and nations.
I commend to you the unborn, the poor, the suffering, the sick and the handicapped, the aging and the dying.
I ask you to reconcile those in sin, to heal those in pain,
and to uplift those who have lost their hope and joy.
Show to those who struggle in doubt
the light of Christ your Son. Amen.