The Reason for the Season: Celebrate Art and Inspiration in Carthage

The holidays are a great time for free tours at the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage.

As the days begin to darken early and the nights begin to chill, retailers focus our attention on the holidays. It is a great time for our economy to see an upswing, with extra sales and holiday bonuses, but the holiday hustle and bustle can come with its own stresses.

I find it is best to slow down and really enjoy time with the family to bring about Christmas cheer. The holidays are made of the magic of memories instilled in all of us as children. Take some time to celebrate the season and give your family traditions and memories to share and pass down. We have a few traditions in Carthage, Missouri, that families enjoy each year that are free of charge.

The Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage is the creation of artist Samuel J. Butcher as a gift of thanks to God. The Chapel has often been called “America’s Sistine Chapel,” and described as an artful representation of Michelangelo’s own Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The Precious Moments Chapel welcomes thousands of visitors annually, offering free Chapel tours daily. One of Missouri’s most beautiful attractions, the Chapel grounds include an inviting Visitor Center, a Gift Shoppe, the Royal Delights Cafe and beautifully manicured gardens adorned with bronze statues and fountains.

The Visitor Center is home to the world’s largest Precious Moments Gift Shoppe and a year-round Christmas Shoppe, as well as Chapel Exclusive figurines. The Precious Moments Chapel and grounds are owned and operated by the Precious Moments Supporting Foundation, a non-profit organization.

Funding for the operations of the Chapel and grounds are provided by donations and Gift Shoppe sales, enabling the foundation to continue to offer free Chapel tours and free admission. Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens sets the mood of the season with artistry and lights to delight families. Christmas at the Chapel is an amazing celebration of lights and tradition with live entertainment. Check the Precious Moments Chapel website for live entertainment schedules and extended hours.

A scene from the Stations of the Cross

Holiday Traditions continue at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC). The CMC was established in 1975 as a seminary school for Vietnamese priests who relocated to Carthage after the Vietnam War.

The CMC offers the Stations of the Cross display to the community year-round; the display celebrates the life of Christ and specifically demonstrates his last days on earth. Each station has a speaker box with narration available in English and Vietnamese. The tour is beautiful with the changing colors of the landscape and an inspiring journey for a leisurely walk.

After dark, the CMC offers the Way of Salvation Driving Lights Tour. The tour is fun for all ages as the lights move to show Jonah being swallowed by a whale, Moses (depicted as a baby) floating downstream and parting the Red Sea as an adult, and David defeating Goliath with a slingshot. Drivers can tune into a local radio station for holiday music and messages; walkers can hear the music from speakers.

Christmas in Carthage is a magical time where art meets inspiration and family traditions are made. Enjoy.

Written by Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.