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…).
Inside 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.
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.
Beautiful Grounds of the Franciscan Monastery
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.
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.
Nativities of the World Exhibit at the Franciscan Monastery
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
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.
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.