Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, 1400 Quincy St NE, Washington, Zvezno okrožje Kolumbija, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

+1 202 526 6800

Every day: from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

800 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church entrusted the guardianship of the Holy Land and other shrines of the Christian religion to the Order of St. Francis.

This work has grown to include support of schools and missions in the Holy Land, as well as care for refugees and other needy people throughout the region.

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The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, sustains this 800-year mission of the Franciscan Friars in the Holy Land through education, fundraising, recruiting vocations, promoting pilgrimages and providing pastoral ministry locally to religious and lay Catholics and to all of good will.

The Franciscan Monastery is home to a thriving Franciscan community; self sustaining and capable of fulfilling its mission on behalf of the Holy Land, its Friars and the Church Universal.

History of the Monastery

The Very Reverend Charles Vassani (1831–1896) in 1880 established the Commissariat of the Holy Land in New York at 143 West 95th St. (right). It was from this building that Fr. Vassani and Fr. Godfrey Schilling began plans to build a “Holy Land in America” and a Holy Sepulchre, which they envisioned crowning a high hill on Staten Island, overlooking the entrance to New York’s harbor.

The Staten Island plan never materialized, but Fr. Vassani and Fr. Schilling did realize their dream on a wooded hilltop in Brookland, near Washington, D.C. In 1897, Fr. Schilling purchased the McCeeney Estate in Brookland in order to found a monastery and build his church.

The six pioneer Franciscans originally lived in the abandoned McCeeney house which had rotten floorboards and was overrun with rats. With the site purchased, Fr. Schilling soon engaged the well-known architect, Aristide Leonori (1856-1928), who would later design the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, to design and supervise the construction of the church and monastery.

Weekdays

  • Monday – Friday (except Tuesday): 6 am, 7 am
  • Tuesdays: 6 am, 9 am, 5:30 pm

Saturdays

  • 7 am, 5 pm

Sundays

  • 8 am, 10 am, 2 pm – spanish

 

The History of the Franciscans

The presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land goes back to the very origins of the Order of Friars Minor which was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. In 1217 the Province of the Holy Land was established when the General Chapter divided the Order into several provinces.

The Holy Land Province included the place where Christ was born, where He performed His ministry and where He died and was resurrected. For this reason the Province of the Holy Land was considered to be the jewel among the other provinces. St. Francis himself stayed several months in the Holy Land during 1219-1220.

In 1291, the city of Saint-Jean-d’Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands. The Franciscans found refuge on Cyprus. Pope John XXII permitted the Provincial Minister of the Holy Land to send two friars to the Holy Places every year. Despite the difficulties, the Friars Minor continued to exercise all possible forms of apostolate.

It wasn’t until 1333 that there was a definitive return of the Friars Minor to the Holy Land with legal possession of certain Holy Places and right of use for others. Through the mediation of the Franciscan Roger Guerin, they obtained from the sultan of Egypt the site of the Cenacle and the right to officiate at liturgies in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was established that the Friars Minor would exercise these rights on behalf of the Christian world.

This project was approved in 1342 by Pope Clement VI with the bulls Gratias Agimusand Nuper Carissimo. From then on, it was established that the friars assigned to the Holy Land could come from any province of the Order and once in service of the Holy Land, they would be under the jurisdiction of the Father Custos, the “Guardian of Mount Zion in Jerusalem.”

In 1623, the Province of the Holy Land was reorganized into a number of smaller entities, called Custodies. This is how the Custody of the Holy Land was created.

The Friars Minor, then, are the official guardians of the Holy Places by the desire and at the request of the Universal Church. Pope Paul VI, the first pope since Saint Peter to visit the Holy Land, recalled this fact and it was confirmed by Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimage during the Great Jubilee Year, 2000 AD.

Today, the Custody’s apostolate is carried out in the following countries: Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes. Some 300 friars are present in these countries, working in collaboration with about 100 sisters from various congregations. The Franciscans serve the principal shrines of the Redemption, including the Holy Sepulchre, the Nativity at Bethlehem and the Annunciation at Nazareth, which hold pride of place. This work has grown to include support of schools and missions in the Holy Land, as well as care for refugees and other needy people throughout the region

History of the Monastery

The Very Reverend Charles Vassani (1831–1896) in 1880 established the Commissariat of the Holy Land in New York at 143 West 95th St. (right). It was from this building that Fr. Vassani and Fr. Godfrey Schilling began plans to build a “Holy Land in America” and a Holy Sepulchre, which they envisioned crowning a high hill on Staten Island, overlooking the entrance to New York’s harbor. The Staten Island plan never materialized, but Fr. Vassani and Fr. Schilling did realize their dream on a wooded hilltop in Brookland, near Washington, D.C. In 1897, Fr. Schilling purchased the McCeeney Estate in Brookland in order to found a monastery and build his church.

The six pioneer Franciscans originally lived in the abandoned McCeeney house which had rotten floorboards and was overrun with rats. With the site purchased, Fr. Schilling soon engaged the well-known architect, Aristide Leonori (1856-1928), who would later design the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, to design and supervise the construction of the church and monastery.

Leonori visited the Holy Land and took accurate measurements and photographs of the holy sites that were to be reproduced. A huge wooden cross was erected on the hilltop, which is today the site of the Friars’ Cemetery (directly behind the monastery). In February 1898, ground was broken for a new building, and the cornerstone was laid on the Feast of St. Joseph.

To fund the construction, Fr. Godfrey sold paper bricks, called “building bricks,” which were 2.5 x .5 inches and contained a medal of St. Anthony of Padua. The building bricks were sold for 10 cents each. When the church was completed, a year later, it was nearly free of debt.

Posted in North America and United States