From Nashville to Hanceville

We were on our way to Hanceville, Alabama, home of the Temple and Shrine built by Mother Angelica.

The story is that in 1995 Mother Angelica heard God say to her, “Build Me a Temple.”  And so she did.

It was completed in 1999 and entirely paid for by five families who wish to remain anonymous.

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday, March 27th, 2016.  We drove past this sign in front of the Center Hill Baptist Church. 

I was familiar with this long stretch of road and white fence leading to the Shrine because I’ve seen pictures of it in books and also on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network).

The road and the fence went on and on.

And then we got there.

It was familiar to me, the Temple and the large complex, which is also the home of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.  Mother Angelica founded and built a monastery in the south in 1962 in Irondale, Alabama.  The Poor Clare nuns moved here to the Temple site when it was completed in 1999.

The story is that Mother Angelica suffered a severe spinal injury in her 30’s and she asked God for the grace to walk again and she promised to build a monastery in the deep south if He would.  He did.

We were rushing because I read there was a 12 o’clock noon Mass in the lower church beneath the Temple, and my watch said 11:50 a.m.

After the cross was installed on top of the Temple, a strike of lightning broke off the top piece of the cross.  Mother Angelica said, “Well, if that’s the way God wants it, that’s the way He can have it.”  Actually, a cross in that shape is called the Tau Cross, the Franciscan Tau Cross, the Cross of St. Francis.

I didn’t take pictures during the Mass, of course, but afterwards I did.  This is the altar and setting of the lower crypt church.  About a hundred people were in attendance.

Father John Paul was the celebrant and when I told him he was very familiar to me, he understood.  Fr. JP is one of the Franciscan priests who does the daily televised Masses on EWTN.

A nearby lady asked if we’d both like to be in the picture.

Fr. JP pointed to Mother Angelica’s tomb in back of the church.  I was amazed to know it was there, and to see it.  I recognized the names of other sisters buried there, including Sister David, who was the mother of Mother Angelica and who called her daughter Mother.

Mother Angelica always loved the Child Jesus.  As a matter of fact, it was the Child Jesus who had said to her, “Build Me a Temple and I will help those who help you.”  She said He spoke with the voice of a young boy.  The nuns had no money, but the five families stepped forward to pay for it.

Fr. John Paul told us that people were already touching their rosaries and medals to the tomb of Mother Angelica, and so I did too.  He said they would be third class relics.

Next to the lower church is a room containing an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin.

Both the positive and negative images of the Shroud are depicted here, along with the story that speaks to its authenticity.

I took a couple other pictures before we walked upstairs.  Fr. JP had given me permission to take pictures.

I recognized this door, from pictorial books, as the entrance to the monastery.  It’s the Enclosure Door to the cloister.  It is locked with a special key and can only be opened from the inside.

The Grand Stairway took us up to ground level, but not to the inside of the Temple.

The first thing we saw outside was a little garden area dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.

I wasn’t sure if my permission to take pictures included inside the Temple and so I didn’t.  All signage said not to take pictures, in respect to Our Lord present for adoration.  But Allan took two from way in back of the church with his non-flash smart phone.

It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and has the best of marble and wood and stained glass.  The monstrance is 8 feet high.  No expense was spared.  Mother Angelica used to say that earthly kings and queens have palaces, and she wanted the best for our Heavenly King, that nothing is too good for Him.

The colonnade surrounding the plaza out front is impressive.

In this Monument of the Divine Child Jesus, He holds His Heart, which is carved out of Red Jasper.

That’s a life-size corpus on the cross at the end of the colonnade.


The sisters stay behind the Enclosure Door and behind this wall.  Their hidden life is mainly for prayer and adoration.

See my car?  We were glad to not be part of a mess of people visiting the Shrine at this time.