About the Sacred Garden

Commissioned by the Australian Passionists for their Novitiate Monastery in Goulburn, NSW in 1955, 14 carrara marble sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross now form the centrepiece of the Sacred Garden at the Glen Osmond Monastery in Adelaide, SA, some 1250 km distant.

These significant works of art are from the Ferdinando Palla Studio in Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy, the heartland of Carrara marble and the source of Michaelangelo’s David (Florence) and the Pieta (St Peters). Each station is a tableau of three or four half life-size figures and weighs half a ton.

The Sacred Garden is an area dedicated to peace and tranquillity for reflection and prayer. It is open to the public 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.  Guided tours are available by appointment.

The Stations

The Stations were made in Italy of Carrara marble. Anatomically, the figures are perfect, with the name of the Craftsmen’s Studio carved on each station, Ferdinando Palla, Pietrasanta, Italy. Each of the stations is carved from a solid block of marble and each finished group weighs approximately half a ton. Seven of the fourteen stations have three figures, the remainder having four. They are approximately half life-sized.

Fr. Augustine Fitzsimons, cp. played a predominant part in acquiring the stations, it was he who, as Novice Master in 1953, researched and ordered them. It is most likely that the contact point between the Australian Passionists and the artist’s studio was the Passionist motherhouse in Rome.

The Stations were brought out to Australia by ship over a couple of years, T.J Pike being the shipping agents. The time delay was simply because it took from six to eight months to complete each one, and they were therefore shipped out in groups in crates of tongue and groove timber, wooden supports cleverly positioned inside to support heads, hands and feet of each of the figures.

Trucked from Sydney to Goulburn, they were lowered by hoist to the ground, unpacked and then hoisted onto the plinths. They had all arrived by Good Friday of 1955, when Most Rev. Dr. Gilford Young led the large group gathered that morning for the Good Friday Stations, Fr. Francis Clune, cp. preaching the occasional sermon.

The cost of each, as quoted in the Goulburn Evening Post of 15 April 1954, was 438 pounds (although universally remembered as 500). The 500-pound figure, however, may well have included the freight and construction of the bases. And when the basic wage at that time is taken into account, just eleven pounds twelve shillings per week, 500 pounds was a good ten months pay.

They remained at Mary’s Mount, Goulburn from 1955 until the Passionists sold that property in 1974, when they were packed up again, and out of consideration for the local donors, were passed on to the Sisters of Mercy for their Novitiate at St. Michael’s until they also left Goulburn in the year 2000. The Passionists then made plans to move them to the Passionist Monastery at Glen Osmond, South Australia.

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