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Ave María

by Horacio Espinosa
View of the Church from the University

Ave Maria, a totally Catholic town … from its streets and avenues, to its inhabitants who walk through them

The Florida peninsula is known for its beaches, amusement parks, etc. But in it there is a not so well known town.

I’m talking about Ave Maria, a totally Catholic town … from its streets and avenues, to its inhabitants who walk through them.

Ave Maria is approximately 184 km (115 miles) from Miami Beach, a trip that crosses the Everglades almost entirely, in fact, this town is nestled on this natural wonder.

Tom Monaghan, founded in 2007 the town in Collier County, Tom is also the creator of Domino’s Pizza. The town also has a University of the same name where a little over a thousand students attend.

Monaghan, sold his pizza emporium in the 90s and devised a center that would serve as a spiritual beacon and call it Ave Maria.

Upon entering the town one receives an image of Mary, and another image of the Annunciation to Mary by the Angel Gabriel. It is worth stopping in this last image, at least a couple of minutes (it is next to the signpost of the University), the most beautiful of the image is the face that the artist did to Maria with which he contemplates the Angel. It should also be noted that he is kneeling on a kneeler that has a Jewish candelabrum, indicating the origin of Maria, and perhaps playing with the concept of the old covenant and the new covenant (Maria)

Going into the town, visiting some of its main arteries that are named John Paul II, Ave Maria or Annunciation, etc. you reach the nerve center of the village, that is to say the great temple: The Ave Maria Church.

It has a somewhat curious architecture, worthy of knowing. On the front we receive a large representation of the Annunciation of Mary, below the 12 Apostles, and to the sides the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Entering the same one stands out on the altar a great crucifix stands out, and underneath it the twelve apostles closing the semi circle on one side Maria and on the other San José.

The town itself, stops a movie set, there are no people on the street or very little, there is no traffic, but all this changes near noon. The celebration begins at 12.00 but from 11.45 approximately, they begin to arrive from all cardinal points, university students, people on foot, by bicycle, in cars, etc., all to be ready for the celebration that will begin in minutes.

Punctually at 12.00 the priests enter and the cerebration begins, for this moment the church, large in itself, was practically full, in spite of not having seen people before in the streets of the town, it seemed that all the neighbors were there in that moment despite being a work day.

After the Holy Mass, we wanted to continue our journey and we went through the Market, where something curious happened to me. We went to buy ham and cheese to make some sandwiches, and since there were only two of us, we did not want to buy much, so I asked for what we needed from the person who worked at the place. She replied with a big smile that it was cheaper if I brought more (there was a promotion) but I thanked her and told her that we did not have where to store what we would have left over. Then she, with an even bigger smile, answers me, what you do not want can take you and deliver it to those who need it.

I emphasize this gesture given that it is uncommon, in a market, where the interests are clearly economic, she transferred me her merciful thought towards her neighbor.

Finally we left the town with the feeling of having lived a unique experience.

Only a detail that under my gaze is out of tune. On the sidewalk of the Church there is a ceramic with the logo of Domino Pizza.

Without knowing the reason why he is there, perhaps it is as a tribute to the founder who gave his empire to create a community where the Catholic Faith has its space.

Traveler Tips

  • Ave Maria is a town with a particular charm, it is worth knowing.
  • Sit somewhere to enjoy the passage of people, everyone will have a smile to give them.
  • Enjoy the silence in the air.
  • Tour the different neighborhoods, in many houses you will see religious images.
  • If you arrive to Ave Maria from Miami, get to know Naples and have a beer in Tin City, less than an hour away from Ave Maria.
  • See the sunset in Naples
  • From Ave Maria you can make trips through the Everglades.

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1 comment

Marvin March 8, 2019 - 12:55 pm

Cómo es posible que vino a Ave María y no lo pude ver? Yo escucho sus reflexiones del Evangelio a través de WhatsApp ????


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