Holy Land Franciscan Monastery Tour
Please move your mouse over to the point of your interest.
The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Francis renounced all worldly possessions, and together with a small band of companions, strove to live a simple life devoted to Gospel perfection. There are many stories surrounding St. Francis. This statue shows St. Francis and the Turtledoves. St. Francis and the youth are each holding a bird in their hands. This tells a story from the "The Little Flowers of St. Francis," and demonstrates the love of the Saint for all of God's creatures, especially gentle animals and little birds. After having rescued the turtledoves from sure death at market, he made nests for them and they remained until he gave them permission to depart.
The Portiuncula Church is located in the Upper Garden to the left of the Main Church. It is a replica of the small church now located within the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. It is considered the Mother Church of the Franciscan Order. It was much loved by St. Francis, because it is one of the first chapels that he rebuilt after he heard the Lord telling him to "Go rebuild my Church, which is falling into disrepair." It is where the first followers of St. Francis gathered in the early 1200's at the beginning of the Franciscan Order.
The Grotto, located in the lower garden, commemorates the garden in which Christ suffered his agony. It is a replica of the original shrine in Jerusalem, and contains an altar and bas-relief of Christ and an angel.
In additional to numerous plants, flowers, large trees, shrubbery, and winding pathways, the Lower Gardens contain the Stations of the Cross, the Shrine of St. Anne, various small shrines, such as that of St. Anthony of Padua, and the Grotto of Gethsemane, the Tomb of the Virgin, the Jewish Tomb, and the Grotto of Lourdes.
Fr. Godfrey is the founder and first Commissary of the Franciscan Monastery. He is shown holding a small copy of the Franciscan Monastery in this left hand and raising his right hand in benediction. After having spent 13 years in the Holy Land as a Franciscan, Fr Godfrey was appointed Commissary of the Holy Land in the U.S. He realized his dream of building a replica of Holy Land shrines in the U.S. in 1898, when the cornerstone was laid. On the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, September 17, 1899, the Franciscan Monastery was dedicated.
The Grotto of Lourdes, located in the Lower Gardens, is a copy of the original shrine in Lourdes, France, where the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette 18 times between February 11 and July 16, 1858. The cave in Lourdes is the central focus for pilgrims coming to the shrine of Lourdes. Our Shrine welcomes those who wish to spend a quiet time of prayer. In warm weather, groups may hold outdoor Mass and prayer services.
The outer structure in a copy of the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem, where it is believed that the Apostles buried Mary. The interior of the Monastery's tomb contains a marble altar and a painting of the Madonna and Child.
The Chapel of the Ascension is a copy of the one which the Crusaders built over the place of Our Lord's Ascension on Mt. Olivet near Jerusalem. While the exterior of our shrine follows the subdued colors of the Monastery Church and Rosary Portico, the interior dome is decorated with a mosaic of the Ascension in vibrant colors.
The tomb is a copy of a Jewish tomb from the time of Christ.
The main altar stands in the center of the church beneath the central dome. The altar is covered by a large bronze baldachin or canopy supported by four columns each containing three of the12 apostles. Each column is also decorated with images of birds, in honor St. Francis. The inside of the baldachin contains the words of the Ave Maria and scenes of the life of Mary.
Previously called the Penance Chapel, the recently redecorated and renamed Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a quiet place of prayer, where daily Mass is celebrated.
Mary's Garden, formerly known as the Oriental Garden, is part of the vast Monastery Gardens. Located behind the Portiuncula Chapel, it is a tranquil spot of repose. Within its confines are dogwood trees, a crepe myrtle, and a variety of azaleas and camellias, as well as a statue of Mary. There are several new gardens recently installed, including the Medieval-inspired Herb Garden, a four-plot space in front of the Friary entrance which features herbs mentioned in the Bible, and the Butterfly and Insect Garden. The most well-known garden is the Rose Garden, the largest in the metropolitan area.
Entrance to the shrine of Bethlehem is gained through the locked
gates beneath the Holy Spirit Altar, and under the arched entryway
marked "Bethlehem." Down a flight of steps, our shrine of
Bethlehem is a replica of Grotto of the Nativity, the focal point of the
4th century Church of the Nativity. Under the altar, a silver star marks
the spot where Jesus was born. A few feet away is the Manger in
which the Baby Jesus was placed after His birth. Directly across from
it is the Altar of the Magi, Wise Men from the East who had come to
adore the new-born child.
Located at the front of the Church of Mt. St. Sepulchre, the three doors at the Church entry are decorated with small stained glass panels and lead into the main church. Modeled after, but not a copy of, the Hagia Sofia, the nearly 1500-year-old former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, our church contains replicas of many of the shrines of the Holy Land, as well as the catacombs of Rome.
The tomb of Christ, the Holy Sepuchre, is a replica of the tomb where the body of Christ was buried in Jerusalem. The first chamber is called the Chapel of the Angel, since it was from there that the angel announced to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning that Jesus had risen from the dead. A pedestal in the middle contains a rock with the inscription "ex Jerusalem." The original stone in Jerusalem is said to be from the rock that covered the Tomb of Christ and was rolled away by angels. In the second chamber is the marble slab covering the spot where the body of Christ was placed after death. Our shrine is a copy of the present day edicule built in 1809, previous ones having been replaced or damaged by fire.
The 14 Stations of the Cross are located in the upper and lower Gardens to the right of the Monastery Church. A large crowd traditionally gathers on the afternoon of Good Friday and, led by a Franciscan Friar, makes its way around the gardens praying the Way of the Cross, a devotion to the memorials of the Passion and Death of Our Lord. Every Friday afternoon in Jerusalem, a Franciscan Friar leads a group through the streets while tracing the actual Way of the Cross.
The Catacombs are a copy of the early Christian catacombs of Rome. The wall decorations are copies of the original frescoes. The original Roman Catacombs were about 900 miles of underground passageways under the city and in the outskirts of Rome where early Christians buried their dead and held periodic services in their honor. Our passageways are dimly lit and contain Christian graffiti, such as "Sta, viator", which translates, "Stay a little while, O Wanderer." We can also interpret this as "Pause and consider your own fate." There are two crypts containing the remains of saints who had originally been buried in the catacombs. Above the altar in the crypt of St. Benignus, a Roman soldier, is a reliquary containing his remains. In another crypt is the body of St. Innocent, a second-century boy martyr no more than 8 years old. The child's face is covered with a mask, but the small hands and feet are clearly seen encased in gold mesh. These two martyrs attest to the trials and even death that early Christians endured for their faith.
Entering through the Visitors Entrance, visitors make their way to the Tour Lobby where tours begin on the hour from 10am until 3pm daily, and on Sundays from 1 to 3pm. The lobby contains permanent exhibitions depicting the life of St. Francis, copies of the 13th century paintings of Giotto from the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, scenes from Jerusalem, and pictures of the Custody of the Holy Land and America's Holy Land, the Franciscan Monastery.
Entrance to the Gift Shop, as well as the Tour Lobby, is through the door to the right of the Main Church. The Gift Shop is open daily, except Monday. Religious articles, including statues and other objects from the Holy Land, are available for visitors to purchase.
The Friary entrance is to the right of the Main Church. Administrative offices, living quarters of the friars, a chapel, and a library are within the compound. In addition, there are six meeting rooms with a capacity from 15 to 65, available for use by groups on a donation basis.
The statue of Saint Anne was donated by a benefactor who had visited St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, Canada, and is very reminiscent of that beautiful depiction of the Grandmother of Jesus. Beneath the shrine there is a replica of the House in Old Cairo, where the Holy Family lived during their time of exile in Egypt.