Av and I visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville a couple of days ago.
It was started by Mother Angelica, who received the message to build it when she was on a trip in Bogota, Columbia for the Catholic channel EWTN. She was brought to a church and began praying beside a statue of Jesus as a child. The Shrine’s website states that the statue turned to her and spoke in a child’s voice, “Build Me a Temple and I will help those who help you.” Mother Angelica told the nuns at her convent (the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration) what happened, and they began looking for land. In Hanceville, Alabama, Mother Angelica said she “felt the Presence of God very strongly.” The land – 380 acres – was purchased, and the shrine was built between 1997-1999.
Above is a picture of the church and the piazza. On top, the cross was broken during a storm and this ‘T’ shape was left. Mother Angelica decided to keep it that way; it’s the shape of a Tau cross now, which has its own religious significance. This church building has an upper church and a lower church.
Each year on the Feast of Epiphany, every building on the grounds is blessed with incense and holy water. A monogram representing the current year and the names of the Three Kings (Casper, Melchior, and Balthazzar) are written with blessed chalk above each door (e.g. “20+C+M+B+05”).
Everything at the shrine is just unbelievably beautiful. From the statues to the marble floors to the woodwork, everything is gorgeous.
Guests are discouraged from wearing super-casual clothes like tank tops and shorts, so the nuns have a supply of skirts and blouses that they loan to people while visiting either the upper or lower church.
Photos aren’t allowed to be taken inside the church; but trust me, ***wow***.
Directly opposite the church on the piazza is Castle San Miguel. The theme of Castle San Miguel, with the armor and tapestries, is meant to remind Christian visitors to “fight the good fight.”
There’s a conference center and gift shop inside the Castle.
To the left of this view of the castle is a small devotional chapel.
Doors to Castle San Miguel
Statue of Joan of Arc inside Castle San Miguel
Statue of Saint Michael inside Castle San Miguel
A biography of Mother Angelica just came out and it’s available here at Amazon, or at the Shrine’s gift shop.
*All* of the pics we took at the shrine can be seen here at my Flickr Shrine set.