Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC (with or without kids)!

A Trip to the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC

Searching for something different to do with (or without) your guests over the holidays? Then consider exploring the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC (it’s free, though donation welcomed). Open to all, the Franciscan Monastery is full of amazing architecture, incredibly beautiful stained glass windows, breathtaking art, relics of pilgrimages from around the world, shrines that make room for you to spend a moment and grounds that remind you of what it’s like to feel peaceful (except if you have a 4-year old child nipping at your proverbial heels. Tips on visiting with kids, below…).

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

A Visit to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

The Main Church of the Franciscan Monastery Shrine

According to the Guided Tour brochure, the monastery was built in 1898 under the vision of Father Godfrey Shilling, OFM, who reproduced the sacred shrines at the Franciscan Monastery OHL “to encourage pilgrimages and allow those who could not make such a journey to see and experience the shrines for themselves.” The upper church has reproductions of the shrines relation to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Taking in the Calvary Shrine

So much – everything – inside the Main Church is breathtakingly beautiful. Though I joke about my young’n and her antics, watching her stop now and then to just take in everything around her was a pretty powerful experience, and a reminder to keep trying, keep exposing her to new and different things in this world.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
What a view!
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Mary’s Chapel

The lower church has reproductions of the shrines with the Grottos of Nazareth and Bethlehem and the Roman Catacombs. On a tour of the Catacombs, you can explore replicas of the ancient, underground tunnels used by Christians martyrs to flee from persecution. I’m eager to explore the lower church on my next visit.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Altar of the Holy Spirit

 

Around the Franciscan Monastery

Historic Gardens

The historic gardens of the Franciscan Monastery are beautiful, safe, enclosed spaces for children of all ages to explore, run, skip and jump around while surrounded by the peace and quiet of nature (all things being relative, given your child’s temperament😉). I’m definitely going to return (probably when the weather’s a bit better) with my kiddos to enjoy some outdoor fun there.
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Walking around the grounds (can only image how beautiful in spring!)
My wee one loved running through the outdoor portico and I have to admit, kind of felt a little Indian-Jones-ish, playfully chasing her through our make-believe alleyways, quickly escaping from dead-ends, etc.

 

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
You can’t catch me!

While children of all ages are welcome to tour and explore the Main Church of the Franciscan Monastery, I have to admit that I had a bit of a difficult time keeping my wee one from not going entirely bonkers inside. At one point, after turning for a second to read an inscription, I turn back only to find her crawling through one of the pews. 🙈 Me, oh my.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Don’t look….
It’s cool; all was a-ok, nobody wagged a finger at us, but my point is that if you want to do (and enjoy) a tour of the Main Church and have a child under seven years old, just keep you expectations in check. You won’t be able to absorb everything, but you’ll still get a taste for the beautiful art, architecture and history that lives in this building.

Nativities of the World Exhibit at the Franciscan Monastery

From now until January 6, you can see over 150 different nativity scenes from the Nativities of the World Display by the gift shop at the Franciscan Monastery. The display and a visit through the grounds were the highlight of the trip for my wee one. (Though I was mildly aghast that there’s no scene from or representing Ireland?!? I’ve got to fix that. 😊)
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Nativities of the World Exhibit

Is the Franciscan Monastery a Kid-Friendly place to visit?

Yes, though as you may pick up from our experience above, it’s a “yes” with some reservation. My wee one enjoyed the Nativities of the World exhibit and the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery are a fantastic, free place to explore with toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school-aged children and beyond! The Main Church and Catacombs, however, are probably best reserved for children ages seven and up.

Virtual Tour of the Franciscan Monastery in DC

Still not convinced? Or maybe eager to go but can’t for some time? Then check out this virtual tour of the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC.

How to get to the Franciscan Monastery in DC

 

Metro:

Take the Red Line to the Brookland-CUA stop. The Monastery is then about a 15 minute, mostly flat walk through the local neighborhood. Here’s the directions on Google Maps.

Bus:

Take the R4 or the 86 –> H6 from PG Plaza Station will get you there within 35 minutes. Get a sense of these bus route options from Google Maps, here.

Drive:

Fairly easy and straight drive from Maryland’s Route 1 corridor. You’ll be on Queens Chapel Road for the most part with a few turns after you enter DC. There’s a free visitors parking lot across the street from the Franciscan Monastery. Here’s an idea of the drive from Hyattsville to the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC via Google Maps.

Tour Information & Address for the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC

Tours of the Church & Catacombs are Monday – Saturday, 10 & 11am, 1, 2 & 3pm. Sunday at 1, 2 & 3pm. The address is 1400 Quincy Street NE, Washington DC 20017.

Thoughts, questions or comments?

Have you been to the Franciscan Monastery? With or without kids? Any tips or words to add? Do so in the comments below!

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