As this week the Catholic church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary and remembers the life of the beloved St. Francis of Assisi, I’d like to introduce you to a peaceful oasis in the midst of the nation’s capital that was built in St. Francis’ honor and includes the beautiful Rosary Portico.  My family and I have enjoyed making several visits to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington D.C.  Its Rosary Portico is a picturesque covered walkway surrounding the glorious Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It was designed in the style of the cloister of St. John Lateran in Rome and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

The Franciscan Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, finished in 1899, was modelled after the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul in the Byzantine style with modified Romanesque influences

It is a beautiful walk, surrounded by charming gardens, and made even more interesting by a series of mosaics depicting the mysteries of the Rosary and a string of Hail Marys and Our Fathers in a multitude of languages which accompany you as you follow the path around the church.  The generous number of artistic ceramic panels depicting the prayers of the Rosary (their website says nearly 200 – I didn’t count them!) includes many of the world’s languages – both modern and ancient.  I was thrilled to find the languages that were common to my various ancestral families – even Glagolitic, the most ancient of the Slavic languages.

The Lord's Prayer in Etruscan, Glagolitic (ancient Slavic script) and Javanese

If you’d like to browse through the Angelic Blessing (another name for the Hail Mary) in these many languages, and possibly search for the language of your ancestors, visit the monastery’s Ave Maria book online.  You’ll find Anglo-Saxon to Zulu and everything in between.

If you are in the Washington D.C. area, I encourage you to take some time to make a visit to this beautiful oasis in the middle of the capital, take a peaceful walk, and search for the prayers in the languages of your ancestors.

One of my daughters taking a thoughtful stroll down the covered walkway at the Franciscan Monastery

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