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7 Must-Visit Monasteries In Florida, USA - Updated 2020

monasteries in florida
Alex
Alex
Updated

Florida is one of the United States’ most visited states. The sunshine state is home to hundreds of thousands of tourists every year visiting some of the most iconic spots around like Miami Beach, Universal Studios, and of course, the legendary Disneyland. But Florida also has a long history of monasteries and religious institutions from when the Spanish first arrived in the area in 1513. In fact, Florida’s oldest city, St. Augustine, is named after the famed Catholic saint. If you’re visiting Florida and want to explore some lesser-seen attractions, here are some of the must-visit monasteries in Florida, USA.

1. The Ancient Spanish Monastery

St bernard de clairvaux church yard 2006
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rolfmueller used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Ancient Spanish Monastery is the oldest European-built structure in the western hemisphere. Originally known as the St. Bernard de Clairvaux Monastery, the structure’s lineage can be traced back to Sacramenia, Spain in the 12th century. It was built there, then disassembled and reassembled here in Florida. The monastery is one of the most iconic in the state and with its history, it has become a major tourist attraction in the North Miami area.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery

Address: 16711 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160, United States

Website: The Ancient Spanish Monastery

Opening hours: 10am - 4pm (daily)

Price: 5 - 10 USD

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2. Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery

Chapel
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Although not as old as the Ancient Spanish Monastery, the Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery was built in 1999 and has been an important part of the Greek Orthodox community in Florida. The monastery faced some trouble in the beginning when they were planning to build but soon after convincing the city of its importance, they were granted the right to build the monastery. The Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery currently operates as a functioning monastery with daily liturgy and vesper services.

Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery

Address: 12600 W Hwy 318, Williston, FL 32696, United States

Website: Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery

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3. San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare

Candles
Source: Pxfuel

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Like many other monasteries in North and South America, the origin of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare has its roots in Europe. The story goes that a young noblewoman from Assisi, Italy, Clare Offreduccio cast off her clothes and took up the simple robes of St. Francis to live as he did in the name of Jesus Christ. St. Francis also built a church in San Damiano where women would live, and Clare, along with her sisters, did so over 800 years ago. That story carries on to this monastery today where the sisters of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare can live in contemplation and solitude.

San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare

Address: 6029 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, United States

Website: San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare

Opening hours: 5am - 5:30pm (daily)

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4. Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery

Church Pews
Source: Maxpixel

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Due to the fervent desire of the Greek people of Florida for an orthodox monastery, the Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery was established for the spirituality of Florida’s Greek Orthodox community. Established in 1998, the monastery was based on the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Serres, Greece. That institution has been around 1270 and was even home to a university which operated within it for over 300 years. Not only were their graduates spiritual leaders but doctors, lawyers, and teachers as well.

Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery

Address: 13486 NW Hwy 225, Reddick, FL 32686, United States

Website: Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

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5. St. Joseph's Carmelite Monastery

Monastery
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

St. Joseph’s Carmelite Monastery is there to provide spiritual service to the Polish community in Florida. The monastery was established in July 1988 and ever since, the property continues to inspire and grow for the people who live here and nearby. The St. Joseph’s Carmelite Monastery is open to more than just the Polish community and services are often conducted in many languages including English, Polish, and Latin.

St. Joseph's Carmelite Monastery

Address: 141 Carmelite Dr, Bunnell, FL 32110, United States

Website: St. Joseph’s Carmelite Monastery

Opening hours:Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 6pm; Sat: 9am - 6pm; Sun: 5am - 6pm

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6. Saint Leo Abbey

St-leo-abbey-entrance02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Located in Saint Leo, Florida, this abbey traces its history back to 1882 when a local judge founded a colony called San Antonio nearby. The abbey was soon founded as a response to the growing number of German Catholic immigrants coming to the area and after some time many of the priests that stayed here went on to found other monasteries in its name including in Argentina, Cuba, and New York. In 1998, the Saint Leo Abbey was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Saint Leo Abbey

Address: 33601 State Rd 52, St Leo, FL 33574, United States

Website: Saint Leo Abbey

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 7am - 5:30pm; Sun: 7:30am - 5:30am

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7. Holy Name Monastery

Monastery
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The Holy Name Monastery is also located in St. Leo, Florida and is operated by the Benedictine Sisters of Florida. The history of the Holy Name Monastery dates back to 1888 when again, many German settlers were coming to the area to live and work. As a result, five sisters came from Pennsylvania to start a convent and an all-girls’ boarding school. The school operated for over 100 years until it was closed however the nuns of Holy Name Monastery still operate as a convent.

Holy Name Monastery

Address: 12138 Wichers Rd, St Leo, FL 33574, United States

Website: Holy Name Monastery

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Holy sites in Florida

Religion has been a big part of Florida ever since the original Spanish settlers came and built the first churches and monasteries. Over time, people from around the world came to the United States and some settled in Florida, bringing their culture and religion with them. Now there are plenty of beautiful monasteries all around the Sunshine State - make sure to stop by when you’re in the area.

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Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

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