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Are You Kiddin’ Me? – Hidden Gem – The Franciscan Monastery

by Prince Of Petworth May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm 28 Comments


Wow. Holy cow. This place was unbelievable. I can’t believe I’ve lived in DC for 12 years and have just learned about it. This of course is the Franciscan Monastery located at 1400 Quincy Street, NE. Their brochure says:

“On a wooded hillside in Northeast Washington, The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land rises in solitary grandeur. The Monastery and its shrines, constructed over a century ago, are religious centers for tourists and pilgrims of all faiths. Offering a chance to see replicas of the famous Holy Land Shrines… The Gardens and Shrines. An oasis of serenity…the acres of gardens change with every season…” You can read more about the architecture here.

So as you can tell already I was stunned by the beauty of this place. The gardens and the Monastery itself were sensational. There are daily tours at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and on Sunday at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Personally I was most happy in the amazing gardens where you can’t even hear a car go by. Amazing. But of course the photos will do more justice than anything I can write.


Lots more photos after the jump.












  • eric in ledroit

    awesome post – i’ve seen the entrance but never went inside. we’ll be there soon!

  • DC_Chica

    When I went here as a kid, I thought the catacombs were the coolest thing ever. Based on your photos, the gardens look beautiful this time of year — it may be time to drag a DC newbie with me so I can experience it again as an adult!

  • Nichole

    One of my first memories of DC was my mom bringing me down here to go to this and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Mom was big into Catholic tourism.) We got hopelessly lost, and I still remember that day as one outstanding from all others because of the limits to which my abilities to “just hold it until we get there” were stretched. I also think it may have been the first time I heard my father say fuck. Some odd memories wrapped up in this place.

  • farragutst

    I came here for a wedding a couple of years ago. I was stunned. It was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t know before then that it existed.

  • Victoriam

    I’m so glad you found this place. When I read the earlier bit on adventuring into Brookland I immediately thought – you’ve got to go here. I went to their website to send you the link, but the site wouldn’t load properly. Clearly though you’re on to it. I also remember the catacombs as a child. Martyrdom stories have always been a sort of Catholic porn (see Saint Sebastian) and we had little books of saints full of gruesome particulars. I somehow decided all the martyrs in my book had their own little niche in the catacombs – like in a barbie dream house – here was “eyes gouged out” St. barbie’s niche, there would be “Boiled in oil St. Barbie’s niche. Anyway, the roses are probably spectacular right now.

  • not telling

    it looks beautiful. lovely to see such hidden treasures revealed.

  • The monastery just its annual plant and herb sale a few weeks ago, which is a great opportunity to get some plants, herbs, vegetables, flowers , and the like at a very reasonable price.

    Also check out the Howard divinity school campus in Brookland its full of Art Deco goodness.

  • Skywalker

    Nice post. My friend told me about this and husband says its gorgeous!

  • Wow! I didn’t know about any of these jewels. Thanks all for sharing.

  • like DC_Chica and Nichole – definitely can relate. The “catacombs” (it’s a replica, hence the quotes) were always super creepy, but the rest of the monastery is just…beautiful.

    Thanks, PoP – An amazing find, indeed. 😀

  • Anonymous

    Do they make BEER?

  • Anonymous

    Of all the places my mom wanted to tour while she was here, somehow she found this. I have to admit, though, it is gorgeous! Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

  • Darryl

    I first discovered this place when volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House about four years ago. It is beautiful.

  • shopgirl

    Thanks for these beautiful photos of the Franciscan Monastery. It reminds me of a very special day over 5 years ago when my husband & I got married there. Right there in the grotto. It was a beautiful day & we were surrounded by fantastic friends & family. When our officiant started to walk down the path to the grotto, he exclaimed “By God, it’s Lourdes!”

  • saf

    It’s such a pretty place.

    Go during advent, in the evening, when they put luminaria in garden.

  • Odentex

    When we went there with Lil’ Gal’s folks she was peering inside the faux catacomb and said something like “there ain’t nothing in there,” and I couldn’t help but sayin’ “well course not, it’s after Easter.”

    Tee hee.

  • Wow… Another thing to add to my list of things to do as soon as teaching is done for the year.

  • Ooh! I was unaware of this. I’m pretty sure an upcoming weekend bike ride over to NE might be necessary…

  • ReneeB

    When my now husband’s plans to propose to me at the National Arboretum were foiled by the park’s early closing hours, we stubbled upon the monastery. I had no clue about his intentions and enjoyed the gardens for while. As we were leaving he called my name and he was on one knee among the flowers, ring in hand. As we are both very Catholic and he is a plant biologist, it was a wonderful blessing and a great, unexpected beginning to our lift together.

  • sophiagrrl

    It’s good to know that this is VERY metro accessible. You can walk it in less than 10 minutes (tho it’s uphill, which is annoying) or hop the Ft Lincoln Line (H6, every 10 minutes) at Brookland Metro and get off at the second stop. Voila! (Also plenty of parking.) Biking is easiest if you come into Brookland (from NW) across the Monroe St bridge, up Monroe to 14th, then down 14th to Quincy.

    The various catacombs etc are all re-creations of real places, which is part of the mission of the Franciscans (preservation of the holy land, even if it means re-creating catacombs with drop panel ceilings). Also, this is THE headquarters of the Franciscans in North America and a real functioning monastery. The brothers are lovely and friendly. The upper gardens are always open (and PoP, did you find the little fountain in the way back back?) but the lower gardens close at 4 pm quite often.

  • dani

    y’all have NEVER known this??

    I guess living in Brookland for four years (i did my undergrad at CUA) has given me a different perspective.

    By the way, the National Basilicia is quite breathtaking if you are in the area

  • Tatiana

    I used to live a few minutes (walking) from it, but had no idea how beautiful it was! A visit is a must.

  • Serena

    I didn’t know about this either. Thanks for the post and the stunning photos.

  • Eva

    Easter sunrise mass at the Monastery. Beautiful.

  • Wow!!! This looks amazing. Thanks for letting us know about it and thanks sophiagrrl for giving us transportation tips. My only visit to Brookland has been a trip to the Comcast office, which was hardly holy or solitary. Can’t wait to do this– in fact, I think this just made it to my weekend to-do list.

  • Cookietime420

    Thanks for the beautiful, personal memories Shopgirl and ReneeB. This is definitely a “sacred space.”

  • Thanks for posting.

  • Bitter Elitist

    Wow. I’ve HEARD of this but haven’t deigned to look it up. Field Trip!!


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