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“Not just for Catholics”

Franciscan Monastery
Ranked #78 of 454 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The monastery in DC is the closest that some will get to visiting the Holy Land. The Monastery of Mount St. Sepulchre, designated a National Historic Site in 1991, has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for thousands of visitors since the church's dedication in 1899. Free tours are given daily of the catacombs, church, and gardens.
Reviewed March 23, 2014

This place was a wonderful surprise. The gardens are beautiful and incredibly relaxing.
The church itself is shaped in the form of a cross with the head of the cross being a recreation of Jesus tomb.
The main floor and the upstairs portions of the church can be discovered on your own.
To see the "downstairs" a tour guide is required. Don't fret, tours are about 30 minutes and worth the time. The guide had a lot of interesting information about the Monastery. NO, you do not have to be Catholic or religious to find something interesting about this place.
The "downstairs" is a replication of a small part of the Roman catacombs and a few shrine replications found in Israel.
The day we visited we toured with 40 Catholic boys from an all boys school in NY. In each main area they stopped to sing and pray. It made it a very different experience vs. if we had been in a regular tour group.
I am not sure I would go as far to say it is a "Must Do" for everyone, but I will say it is a nice break from the city rush. If you are Catholic or interested in religion in general, I definitely think you will enjoy the tour.
If you are going to take the metro - bring snacks and water. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the metro. - Travelationship.com

1  Thank heather p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 20, 2014 via mobile

it is off the beaten path but well worth it. The inside and outside is both interesting and beautiful! The tour is a must, would not understood everything I was actually looking at!

Thank Jo Ellen N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2014

Peaceful, calm, walk into another world. Not just for Catholics. An institution in this town. A quiet secret garden, visit the grotto. Be intrigued and experience the weird and wonderful alters. There is a catacombs (recreation) but I don't think the public can go there. Very strange, because it portrays the last days judgement time and suffering souls. You Catholic parochial boomers will understand. But there are other aspects of the church that are weird and wonderful and spiritual. Very unique. Avoid the gift shop, unless you just want to support the site, which you should, but give a donation instead. The Franciscans are awesome look them up and understand their mission. Truly loving . Enjoy.

1  Thank Denise B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 4, 2014 via mobile

Dedicated to the faithfuness of St, Frances. Reminicent of Rome and the catacombs. The reverence and respect clearly causes many to stop pause and reflect,
Giving one peace to the soul.
Go visit, and go in peace.

Thank Journeyman644
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2014

I've visited D.C. many times over the years and had the usual "where can we go that we haven't been to umpteen times already?" conversation. Someone suggested the Monastery (many times), and we finally went. I want to go back on every visit now! I don't agree that only Catholics can love and appreciate the visit. Can only Catholics appreciate St. Peter's in Rome? A basic knowledge of Christianity and an open mind is all that is needed to appreciate the faith that is exemplified here. (BTW, we are agnostics and atheists...)

That being said--the church is beautiful and well worth seeing by anybody, though small children and strollers might have trouble getting through some passages.

There is also a garden area that contains replicas of famous sites in Europe and the Middle East. This is best viewed in warm weather. It is locked when the church is closed to visitors.

Tours are provided and are the only way to see the catacombs (a MUST SEE). The information provided by the tour guides is essential to a full appreciation of the chapels and other areas of the church. If possible, visit on a nonweekend nonholiday, so that the tour group is smaller and more congenial.

Go to the web site for the hours of tours. Also check the calendar of events on the web site, especially around holidays, because the church may be closed to visitors.

Re the carol singing--I found it very touching and sort of sweet. Go with the flow, man!

Thank Sean C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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