Whether you are religious or not, Virginia, USA, has some of the most beautiful and imposing monasteries in the country. This Southeastern state in the USA hugs the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean with roots as one of the country’s 13 earliest colonies, which saw life from the colonial era to revolution and present-day. This means the state had a long time to design and build its awe-inspiring monasteries, steeped in over a century of history and culture! Fans of gothic architecture can be sure to spot homage to the old world along with features from the new world. For those who would like to reflect on their lives and beliefs, some monasteries on our list of the must-visit monasteries in Virginia, USA, also offer guest rooms for a complete monastic experience. Scroll down to find out more.
1. Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross
The Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross was founded in the mid-18th century with cross-continental ties to the Abbey of Cîteaux in Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, South Dijon, France. Founded by Christian saint Robert de Molesmes, it is known for being the original abbey of the Cistercian order. Visitors can apply to stay in the Retreat House on the grounds of the abbey to reflect deeply on life and spirituality. This is an experience that will help you refresh yourself through silent meditation amidst the natural scenery of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and religious worship at Mass along with the monks residing in the abbey. Both males and females are welcome to the Retreat House throughout the year for a small offering that helps defray all costs of up-keep and maintaining the abbey property. The abbey also runs a bakery and gift shop that is a must for visitors.
Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross
Address: 901 Cool Spring Lane, Berryville Virginia 22611, USA
Website: Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross
Opening hours: 3:30am - 8pm (daily)
2. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
The newest and youngest Trappist Order in the country, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery is a community of Trappist-Cistercian nuns living in a sprawling monastery in Crozet, Virginia, USA at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery welcome all and the charming chapel is open daily for prayers and monastic liturgy. For those who would like to participate in longer monastic liturgy, the sisters also welcome guests for up to a week in the lakeside cottages on the monastery grounds. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery also abides by the Benedictine traditions of prayers with practical work. This has resulted in their famous cheese-making production, which helps the sisters support themselves and the monastery. Since 1990, the sisters use Old World cheese-making secrets to produce handmade batches of Gouda cheese in the style of the Netherlands and Monastery Country Cheese, which is a semi-soft and mild cheese that is made with milk from grass-fed, pasture-living cows. Visitors to the monastery can purchase the cheeses, which are made fresh daily.
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
Address: 3365 Monastery Drive, Crozet, Virginia 22932, USA
Website: Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
Opening hours: 6:30am - 7pm (daily)
3. St. Dominic's Monastery
St. Dominic’s Monastery is a closed cloistered order of contemplative nuns in the Order of Preachers. The St. Dominic’s Monastery observes papal cloister, which means that the nuns choose to be enclosed within the monastery’s boundaries in religious reflection and do not leave or admit persons not of their order unless in the event of emergencies. In line with their conviction to practice a prayerful life in seclusion, the St. Dominic’s Monastery was relocated from its previous location in the middle of a busy city in Washington D.C. to Linden, Virginia, in the serene Blue Ridge Mountains. The monastery itself is constructed in the traditional monastery architectural style. Visitors can attend mass in the chapel while fans of architecture can admire the majestic St. Dominic’s Monastery, the “city on a hill”, from a respectful distance.
St. Dominic's Monastery
Address: 2636 Monastery Road, Linden, Virginia 22642, USA
Website: St. Dominic's Monastery
Opening hours: Mon - Thu & Sat: 7am; Fri & Sun: 11am (Mass hours)
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4. Place Of Peace Columbarium - Benedictine Sisters of Virginia
The Place of Peace Columbarium is located on the grounds of the St. Benedict Monastery that is managed by the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. This beautifully manicured space is open to everyone, regardless of faith. To create a calming sanctuary, the Place of Peace Columbarium is carefully constructed with beautiful examples of a traditional Catholic garden of peace with gothic-style stone angels and cherubs that look after all who enter. The various pockets of spaces such as quiet gardens for reflection, labyrinths for prayer, and other sacred spaces are open to the public for visitation and reflection from dawn to dusk every day.
Place Of Peace Columbarium - Benedictine Sisters of Virginia
Address: 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, Virginia 20136, USA
Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)
5. Monastery of the Poor Clares
The nuns of the Monastery of the Poor Clares are a closed cloistered monastery who live in seclusion in order to serve Christ in the footsteps of Mother Mary, the Virgin of Bethlehem. The sisters lead a simple life, eschewing all material comforts. They are permitted to see their families twice a year but still remain behind the monastery’s iron grills to maintain their vows. The nuns of this order are known for their hard-working attitude and commitment to their cause; to live a life dedicated solely to Christ and their fellow humans through prayers 12 times a day and 16-hour daily routine that focuses their minds and souls. The Monastery of the Poor Clares is situated at the end of a long drive, in a peaceful neighborhood. In autumn, the honey-colored brick monastery is framed by flaming fall foliage, making for a particularly pretty picture.
Monastery of the Poor Clares
Address: 5500 Holly Fork Road, Barhamsville, Virginia 23011, USA
Website: Monastery of the Poor Clares
Opening hours: Closed to the public
Plan a trip to a monastery in Virginia
A visit to a monastery might not be on the radar for most visitors to Virginia, but you could experience some very unexpected and pleasant surprises if you give it a go! Ahead of planning for a visit to a monastery, do remember to check with the monastery if the public is still welcome and if there is anything that you can look out for, as well as ensure that you are well-prepared. We at Trip101 are always on the lookout for life-changing traveling experiences that we can share with you. With this list of must-visit monasteries in Virginia, we hope that you will gain a new outlook on this wonderful world of ours.
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