Franciscan Monastery

Your Guide
Claire Bedat, ASLA

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land “in America” in Brookland, located at 14th and Quincy Sts. North East, Washington DC, is a place like no other for architecture and garden lovers. Envisioned by Friars Shilling and Vassani, the church Mt. St. Sepulchre sits on a wooded hilltop surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Inside, its edicule is a replica of the Holy Sepulchre. Back in the XIXth century, the Friars’ community hired the services of Aristide Leonori (1856-1928) and John Joseph Earley (1881-1945) to develop a Byzantine-style five-fold Crusader Cross of Jerusalem, inspired by the Hagia Sofia’s floor plan in Istanbul and a Rosary Portico with 15 chapels commemorating the lives of Jesus and Mary.

The gardens were envisioned by Reverend Godfrey Schilling back in 1897, along with six other Franciscan Friars, known as the “Pioneer Brothers.” The first head gardener was Brother Isidore Germait of Belgium (1837-1912), followed by Meinrad Wiget of Switzerland (1880-1967). The gardens are populated with crypts and catacombs, sculptures, grottos, altars, and a chapel. In the past, friars tended and cared for the grounds and its facilities, while practicing and representing the Christian faith here and abroad. Now a landscape service cultivates and nurtures the approximately 42 acres and the monastery's garden guild tends the roses.

For more information please refer to the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild, which delves into the gardens’ history and the various Monastery activities.


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