Rosary - Mary's Garden

Mary's Garden & Rosary Garden at the Cathedral

The Cathedral grounds are home to both a Mary's Garden and a Rosary Garden.  The Gardens are located behind the Cathedral between the John Britten Gehl Center and the Rectory.  A Visitor's Guide, available in the Gardens that provides a full list of the names and numerical key indicating their location in the landscape plans. If you wish to make a donation toward the Gardens, contact the parish office. 

Mary's Garden

A Mary's Garden is a garden dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, containing plants either named after Mary or associated with her by legend. With a statue of Mary as a focal point, it can contain many familiar flowers. It is believed that the first gardens dedicated to Mary were cloister gardens in monasteries. During the 12th and 13th centuries, these gardens continued and many legends (most written by Saint Francis of Assisi) associated with Mary arose.

One such legend tells that the  angel Gabriel held a lily (Madonna Lily) in his hand when he came to tell Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. After Mary touched the flower, which had been scentless, an exquisite fragrance arose from it. Flowers were said to spring from the earth wherever Mary walked. Long before plants were given botanical names, many referred to them by Marian names.

The planting and cultivation of a Mary's Garden fosters devotion to Mary that always leads to Christ. In 1932, Frances Crane Lillie established the earliest known Mary's Garden in the United States in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 1951 Ed McTague and John Stokes, Jr. established Mary's Gardens in Philadelphia, PA. John Stokes, Jr. helped to get the Cathedral's Gardens started before he passed away in the fall of 2007.  The religious names of the symbolic Flowers of Our Lady are displayed with their more familiar common names on the plant markers at each flower group. The Visitor's Guide, available in the Gardens, provides a full list of the names and a numerical key indicating their location in the landscape plans.

As you walk through the Gardens, identifying the flowers and plants by their names, imagine the symbolic form and color of each as it might have been seen by the faithful of the medieval country sides: as the quality of a mystery, virtue, event or article of reverence. Then, take the list with you and in moments of recollection let your imagination run over all the flowers in it, rejoicing and giving thanks for their contribution to the richness of the popular religious traditions supporting our faith. In your daily life, as you encounter flowers - in field and roadside, gardens, window boxes, bouquets, florist's shops and shopping malls: "Look on the flower, Think of Mary." Like Mary, we take delight in flowers as God's riches and artistry, showing forth the beauty of heaven on earth.  Book: "Mary's Flowers, Gardens, Legends and meditations" by Vincenzina Krymow.

Rosary Garden

Our Rosary Garden includes raised beds representing each of the mysteries of the rosary:

White flowers for the Joyful, Red flowers for the Sorrowful, Yellow flowers for the Glorious and Purple flowers for the Luminous. The purpose of the Rosary Garden is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. The main focus is Jesus - his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus' Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The  glorious remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.

Mary's Garden Guild

The Mary's Garden and Rosary Garden at the Cathedral are a result of the prayers and  generosity of the parish members and friends. A group of novice to expert gardeners, the Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral Mary Garden Guild, maintains the Gardens as a devotion to Our Lady. Members attend 2-3 meetings per year, plant, weed and water throughout the growing season; lead an outdoor rosary and May Crowning in the Gardens and celebrate together with an end of the season social.   Members attend diocesan Marian events, share books and devotions to Mary as she brings us closer to her Son.  



Mary's Garden and Rosary Garden Landscaping Plan

View List of Plants and Plan


More Information available at:

Mary Garden website