Situated on about 400 acres of pristine land, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of Angels Monastery is located in Hanceville, Alabama. The late Mother Angelica of EWTN was inspired to build this church in honor of the Child Jesus. She had a vision from the Child who told her to build the temple.
The drive to the monastery feels like country back roads; one would never expect what lies at the end of that long road.
As you walk to the doors of the Shrine, there is a statue of the Child Jesus, holding a heart with fire to symbolize his burning love for us. Atop the temple, an odd-shaped cross hangs — a lighting strike broke the top of the cross off when the shrine was being built. It was never repaired, because Mother Angelica believed it was God who wanted it broken. It is now a Tau cross, symbolizing the spiritual renewal of the church, or the mark of the Lord’s angel upon the forehead of the faithful.
The shrine is magnificent in itself with the 7.5-foot-tall golden monstrance, inviting you to adore the Real Presence. The nuns who live at the shrine and care for it will welcome you to join them in the Liturgy of the Hours, or you may go to confession, or just spend time in Adoration. The anteroom of the lower church has an exhibit of replica images of the Shroud of Turin.
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Once you exit the front doors of the Shrine, at the far left of the Plaza, a life-size crucifix presides over the area. The corpus is rendered as bloodied from the scourging, and brings one to consider the true Passion. The kneeler before the image offers a place to contemplate the price of our sin and the depth of his love.
Next to the church is the Castle San Miguel. Entering there feels like traveling to the 13th century. The inside has the appearance of a small chapel, dark except for the candles lit in front of a beautiful life-size nativity scene.
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The Lourdes Grotto is a short walk from the church. A replica of the grotto in France, it is completed by a peaceful and serene river that flows right past Our Lady.
On the way to the Grotto you will pass the John Paul II Eucharistic Center, built with the purpose of teaching people of all faiths about the Holy Eucharist. Inside is a recreation of a Jewish home at Passover, and many life-size statues of saints with their stories.
The Shrine and Grotto are open Monday – Saturday 6am-9pm and Sunday 6am-6pm. Tours are available but you are also welcome to tour the grounds on your own. Photos are allowed everywhere except inside the shrine. Modest dress is expected.
The Shrine is truly a place to be visited whether you are Catholic, or of another faith. It is God sent!
Photos by Jeffrey Bruno for EWTN