When our entire family made the move from the D.C. area to Huntsville, Alabama last year Jennifer and I weren’t sure how we would like our new lives after living in the Washington region for 50+ years. But, knowing that we wouldn’t be far from EWTN or from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament gave us a lot of hope and joy about the move. Both EWTN and the Shrine were founded by Mother Angelica and are truly holy places. EWTN is, of course, the worldwide Catholic radio and television network. The Shrine is where the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration are cloistered and where Mother Angelica was laid to rest.
Jennifer was hosting a house guest from London for a few weeks after Christmas and we thought she would enjoy a trip to the Shrine (we knew we would). She is originally from Poland and is a devout Catholic.
During the Advent and Christmas seasons we made it a priority to visit both EWTN and the Shrine. This post is about our visit to the Shrine, but we will talk about our visit to EWTN soon.
We began our visit at the gift shop, a big and beautiful shop filled with books and holy reminders. We picked up some very nice items for gifts and for ourselves. We already decided we will be going there next December to do some Christmas shopping!
After the gift shop we headed to the Lower Church. Just before entering the church we were able to see an image of the Shroud of Turin. Just to see the image is awe inspiring. Once inside the church we attended a beautiful noon Mass where we received the Eucharist while kneeling at the communion rail….something neither of us had experienced before. It was a holy occasion. After Mass we walked to the back of the church to visit Mother Angelica’s tomb. Her mother is also buried in crypt right below here. She had followed Mother Angelica to Alabama and became a nun herself.
Afterward, we visited the Main Church where the monstrance holds the Consecrated Host of the Most Holy Eucharist. We spent some time there in adoration. The church is beautiful and would be a wonderful place to make a holy hour.
We exited the church building and strolled through the beautiful colonnade on our way to the Creche where the Nativity Scene is displayed. Beautiful music played while we prayed there and lit some candles for our intentions.
We ended our visit of the Shrine at the replica of the Lourdes Grotto, where we again prayed and lit some candles. It overlooks a river and would be a beautiful place to visit in the Spring. Our friend from Poland has been to Lourdes in France and said that this replica as well as it’s placement near the river looks exactly the same as it does in France. Leave it to Mother Angelica to get every detail right.
Our first visit to the Shrine was a beautiful and holy experience, even though it was a cold and rainy day. We are looking forward to visiting there many more times this year. If you haven’t yet visited, it is definitely worth a trip!
By the way, after living in Huntsville for 8 months (Jennifer) and for 6 months (Paula) we have found that there are many wonderful things about living in Alabama!