Activities & Resources
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land050in Washington, DC 20017
about Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land:
The church was built in 1898-99, using as the floor plan the five-fold Crusader Cross of Jerusalem, and it is built in the Byzantine style, after the Hagia Sofia in Constantinople (Istanbul), with some modified Romanesque influences. There are three Shrines, and a faithful copy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, for which the Monastery was named. Catacombs are housed in the Martyr's Crypt; short passageways lead to the Chapel of Purgatory and more chapels, typical of the larger ones of the ancient Catacombs. The Nativity Grotto is reproduced here as it exists now in Bethlehem.
Visitors are welcome to tour the grounds on their own, but guided tours are available as well. Tours of the Monastery and shrines are given Monday through Saturday at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. On Sundays, tours are given in the afternoons only, at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. The Catacombs can be visited only when on a tour. Tours are free, although donations are greatly appreciated.
Surrounding the church is the Rosary Portico (or Cloister Walk), with 15 chapels commemorating the lives of Jesus and Mary in detailed, colorful mosaics. Each chapel contains artistic ceramic plaques bearing the Angelic Greeting in nearly 200 ancient and modern languages. Within the Portico are beautiful landscaped gardens that change with the seasons. I don't think there is a better place to see tulips in the spring than right here!
Attached to the rear of the church is the monastery, built in the monastic style of the late Romanesque. Statues (children love the dog in particular), reproductions of Holy Land Shrines, and the Stations of the Cross are found throughout the upper and lower gardens. There are grottoes, outdoor chapels, and lots of places for kids to run around (respectfully of course) and drink in the view.