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Mobile’s ‘hidden treasure’ a blessing for visitors, community

Nestled behind the stone walls surrounding 2300 Springhill Ave., in old Mobile are a collection of buildings and, more importantly, a group of women who love you and me.

The Convent and Academy of the Visitation, commonly known as Visitation Monastery, is a historic complex of Roman Catholic buildings and a small cemetery. Established in 1832 by Bishop Michael Portier, first bishop of Mobile, Visitation Monastery is home to a cloistered order of nearly two dozen nuns committed to an apostolate of prayer and characterized by a spirit of humility and gentleness.

“It’s a hidden treasure behind the walls off of Springhill Avenue,” Shop Manager Colleen Blackwell said. “Their whole life is about prayer, which is what we need in this world nowadays. They’re an awesome group of ladies.”

Visitation Monastery in Mobile a blessing for visitors, community from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Visitation Monastery hosts numerous retreats and operates a gift shop, both of which attract thousands of visitors each year. Blackwell said income generated from the retreats and the gift shop support the monastery.

“We have people who come repeatedly every year and buy something from us just because it came from the Visitation,” Blackwell said. “We work hard to try to promote this place through the community because the nuns are very silent in theirs. We help represent them.”

Assistant shop manager Joanie Zoghby adds it’s a peaceful place to work.

“It is a treasure,” Zoghby said. “It’s just a sweet place to come see.”

Mass is held each morning inside the chapel. Blackwell said people visit throughout the day to pray as the nuns privately pray for them.

“There are some sweet nuns over here praying for each and every one of you,” Blackwell said. “It’s a blessing for me to be able to do stuff for them. I work for them, but they bless me every day.”

To learn more about Visitation Monastery, visit visitationmonasterymobile.org.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)