Surrounding the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the grounds of northeast Washington’s Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land contain replicas of famous Holy Land shrines for pilgrims of all faiths. The church, designed by Roman architect Aristide Leonori and built in 1898-99, is Byzantine in style with a late Romanesque monastery behind it. The grounds, which originally included a small farm, consist of formal and picturesque gardens.
Framing the upper, more formal garden, is the Rosary Portico designed by John Joseph Earley, an innovator in decorative concrete whose work can also be seen at Meridian Hill Park. Reminiscent of St. John the Lateran’s cloister in Rome, the portico holds some fifteen chapels commemorating the lives of Jesus and Mary in colorful mosaics, and acts as both a border and entrance gate for the churchyard. Formal plantings of boxwood and masses of roses line the walks, palm and banana trees dot the lawns, and brightly-colored annuals surround memorial statuary. The lower gardens are less formal and highlight fourteen Stations of the Cross. Winding paths with woodland plantings of azaleas, ferns, and hellebores reveal grottoes, chapels, replicas of tombs and spaces for devotion. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.