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Holy Land of America - Catacombs Replica

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

One of the many duties of the busy Franciscan order is the preservation of Middle Eastern holy sites. Not many people know that, so the industrious friars decided to build their own, well-preserved Holy Land, a tourist attraction over here to show us what they do over there.

The New Holy Land of America is popular with cottonballs and church bus tour groups. Most folks would be forgiven if they confuse it with any other big Catholic church that has statues and shrines on its grounds.

However,the New Holy Land also has catacombs dug below its main chapel -- reproductions of the death pits underneath Rome in which early Christians hid. A tour of these blessed bone yards departs every 15 minutes.

The catacombs are sanitized (no dead bodies or pesky rats), open and airy and well-lit, with poured concrete walls that are airbrushed to resemble mighty stone blocks. Their nexus is the Purgatory Chapel, decorated with tile frescoes of corpses and one of a guy -- who looks like the hermit from the inner jacket of Led Zeppelin IV -- raising shrouded skeletons from the dead.

The volunteer guides who conduct the New Holy Land tours sport outfits that are a combination of Good Humor Man and Banana Republic Dictator -- pure, spotless white jumpsuits bedecked with medals and sashes, and white shoes with thick rubber soles.

The combined tour of the catacombs and outdoor Holy Land shrines takes an hour and a half. We recommend that you duck out after the catacombs and spend the rest of your time in the New Holy Land's extensive gift shop.

Holy Land of America - Catacombs Replica

1400 Quincy St. NE, Washington, DC
Mount St. Sepulchre, 14th and Quincy Sts. NE.
Daily tours 9 am - 4 pm on the hour, Su 1-4 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Free, donation.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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