'Temple' built by Mother Angelica shows every sign of developing into major shrine

by Michael H. Brown

         A growing number of pilgrims are streaming to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament built by Mother Angelica, the famous Franciscan nun, in Alabama. The reason is obvious. This is holy ground. This place is anointed. This is a major situation. I knew very little about it before visiting this week and was astonished. Beyond the splendor, beyond the majesty of this place that looks like it was transported from Assisi -- that ranks with some of the historic churches in Europe -- is clearly a manifestation of the supernatural. 

         It's the feeling. It's the holiness. It's the way the sun rises -- pulses -- over the tower. As the shrine materializes beyond a rise near Hanceville (about an hour from Birmingham), one takes in a huge piazza, a statue of the Infant, and an august entrance to what can only be described as the most beautiful church interior I have seen in America. 

         That's one thing, but beyond that is the intense spiritual experience. You feel like every prayer is piercing the clouds. You want to get in every request. I felt like I was back at St. James in Medjugorje. And while Mother and her nuns, who sing angelically at Mass, are properly reserved in discussing such issues (staying away from the sensational, and careful to stick to the basics), there are already reports of healings. Several were physical. Most are spiritual. On occasion a mist-like cloud is seen above the tabernacle, and one 11-year-old boy had a vision of blood flowing from the monstrance into the tabernacle and heard a voice calling him to the priesthood. Through the Holy Spirit, others "see" their consciences.

         I felt spoken to myself and couldn't get my eyes off the Blessed Sacrament. It's in an eight-foot monstrance. This is a site that may well develop into America's major point of pilgrimage and is being built in a way that will last the centuries. It was started after Mother Angelica received a revelation in Bogota, Colombia, at the Sanctuary of the Divine Infant Jesus, where a statue of the Child came alive and spoke to her, saying, "Build Me a temple and I will help those who help you." Against all odds, this remarkable nun did just that. A castle that will house facilities for pilgrims is under construction, and pilgrim homes are already sprouting on the periphery. It's an historic situation; there is an unmistakable sense of destiny. I write like this because I have not seen anything like this in other parts of our country. There is a strict observance of the faith, and the gold-gilded altar, the marble pillars, and the setting for the Blessed Sacrament -- which is dramatically revealed right after Mass -- defy quick description. It will become not only a place of spiritual healing but a beacon to the Church, a fulfillment of God's request to St. Francis to rebuild, a call back to the Truth of Catholicism.           

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