History of the Sacred Garden
Fourteen magnificent Carrara marble sculptures depicting the journey of Jesus Christ to his crucifixion, form the centrepiece of the ‘Sacred Garden’ in the peaceful grounds of The Monastery at Glen Osmond.
These beautiful works of art and devotion were originally acquired over fifty years ago when the Passionist Order created a ‘Stations of the Cross’ walk in their monastery grounds of ‘Mary’s Mount’ in Goulburn, NSW. When the Passionists sold their property at Goulburn in 1974, and out of consideration for the local donors, the sculptures were handed on to the Sisters of Mercy, who re-erected them at their Novitiate.
In 2001, the Passionist Community at Glen Osmond became the custodians of these exceptional works, when the Sisters of Mercy themselves moved from Goulburn.
The Sacred Garden Project has entailed the major task of conservation and restoration of these sculptures. In addition, new plinths were designed and built and historic walls and pathways restored. Attractive gardens on the property have been designed and landscaped to create a suitable environment for the sculptures.
Each sculpture is a tableau of three or four figures. Designed in the workshop of the highly esteemed Italian painter and sculptor, Franco Miozza, they were carved in the Ferdinando Palla Studio in Pietrasanta, Italy.
The complex beauty, grace and movement of these sculptures encapsulate the spirit of Italy and the Renaissance tradition.
The National Trust of South Australia has given its name and approval to the project, recognising the Sacred Garden to be of aesthetic and historical heritage significance.
When it was decided that Glen Osmond was the place to re-install the statues the first factor to consider was transport. Just how would one transport these beautiful, though somewhat weathered stations the 1200 Kms from Goulburn, NSW, to Adelaide, SA without damaging them further? Because of their specially equipped hydraulic dampened tray tops, the transport company chosen to undertake the task was Chess Intermove, and a specialist firm from Melbourne was hired to create the statues in solid pine boxes, with foam of various densities for padding.
Regrettably, there had been damage to some of the stations due to previous moves and storage. A hand was missing from one, the occasional finger from others; cracks had appeared in places, and over the years much mould and dust had collected on most of them. Under the supervision of Carmel Nicholls, the statues were uncrated and painstakingly cleaned and restored, while kept locked away in the Monastery garages. Greg Dabrowa, a renowned sculptor from Sydney was enlisted to repair and rebuild any damage, which he did to perfection.
Planning the Garden
In order to plan the Garden and to ensure the necessary finance, several committees were formed, a large auction was held and many money-raising ventures implemented. One of these was the opportunity given for Memorial Plaques. The plinths were constructed, drainage and water supply added, and the gardens planted by several teams of TAFE Students under the supervision of Tim Jenkins, the Monastery groundsman of the time. Gates were designed, built and installed, and paving laid by Albino Ragnelli. The Passionists and indeed, all those who visit the Sacred Garden, are indebted to the many tradesmen and others who donated their skills and time to make this venture possible.
A Media Launch was conducted on, Wednesday 16th April. The Premier, Hon Mike Rann attended along with the spokesman for the National Trust, who approved the project, recognizing the Sacred Garden to be of aesthetic and historical heritage significance. The media gave the project much coverage, so shown by the weeks of constant attendance by various journalists and photographers.
The Opening Ceremony was conducted on Good Friday, 18th April, 2003. 1500 chairs were used by people attending the function and a further five hundred people remained standing throughout the ceremony. The Archbishop, Most Rev. Philip Wilson, DD, accompanied by the Passionist Provincial Fr. Denis Travers, and Community Leader Fr. Kevin Hennessy, blessed and followed the Stations with a select group, and this was radio broadcast to the people at the front of the Monastery. At the conclusion of the blessing and prayers, the people present were invited to make the stations privately, which almost all did, despite the huge number attending.