Friday, April 20, 2012

Franciscan Monastery

On Holy Saturday, my family visited the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land near Catholic University. 

The  monastery church contains life-size replicas of many famous shrines, such as the cave in Bethlehem where Christ was born, the Holy Sepulchre where His body was laid to rest, and the Roman catacombs where the early Christian martyrs were buried. Each site brought back fond memories of my pilgrimages to Israel and Rome in college.

I was worried that the monastery would be too much history for the little kids, but it turned out to be perfect! They really enjoyed seeing the sites and running around in the monastery gardens. 

Angela was fascinated by the tomb of an 8-year-old martyr named St. Innocent, her exact age. We encouraged her to ask St. Innocent to pray for her. I know that might sound a little morbid, but having a strong connection to the Christians who have gone before us is crucial for Catholics. We see the saints as still a part of the church - still a part of our family. Learning about young saints is also a great example to the kids to see someone their age who suffered and died for the Faith. I hope St. Innocent inspired my little siblings to be courageous witnesses to Christ, as he was.

On Good Friday, my family went for pizza and my parents regaled Frank and Matt with old family stories. That conversation segued into stories of the saints and Dad told the story of St. Sebastian, 
the only saint to be martyred twice, as the kids sat fascinated. I loved how stories about the saints fit so naturally into stories about our family. It was beautiful and I couldn't help thinking, That's the way it should be.

Imagine how delighted the kids were when we found a replica of St. Sebastian's tomb at the Franciscan Monastery the very next day.

Of course we had to take pictures. The artwork in the church was incredible! Even this little statue of St. Sebastian, buried underground in the imitation catacombs, was exquisite.

We walked through the gardens after that. They were lush with colorful flowers and I just drank it all in. These pictures don't begin to do it justice.

We also came upon a replica of the Grotto at Lourdes and many pretty shrines among the flowers. But I didn't take pictures of them because we were praying the Rosary.

The whole gang, minus my dad who was taking the picture
We had so much fun visiting the monastery. Frank and I have already started talking about how we can't wait to go back, perhaps when his family comes to visit DC this summer. I'm already looking forward to it. 


  1. "I loved how stories about the saints fit so naturally into stories about our family." What are saying..you guys are a family of saints??! The audacity!!


  2. hahaha. Yes Mary, we are all flawlessly perfect. Just like St. Peter, St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila and all those other saints who never made a single mistake in their whoooooole lives.