The Ecumenical Garden Project, sponsored by the English-speaking churches of Rome, "Churches Together in Rome", was initiated by the Reverend Dana English, an Anglican priest on the staff of All Saints' Anglican Church, Rome, in September 2012.
The project was conceived as a memorial to a colleague who died soon after their pre-ordination retreat was held in the garden in June of 2012.
Realizing that the restoration of the neglected garden, at the edge of which the ordinands had shared their life stories that June, would be an opportunity to help the community of monks at S. Gregorio, in an ecumenical gesture, Dana gathered interested members of churches in Rome and set to work.
The Prior of the monastery at that time, Peter Hughes, welcomed the project. The Ecumenical Garden Project, Beth Blosser - Plan
An opportunity for persons from all branches of the Christian Church to come together, the project began immediately in the autumn of 2012 with volunteers from Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Roman Catholic churches gathering on successive Saturdays for work sessions to clear the overgrown site.
It was a chance for many people who love gardens, but who have no garden of their own in the center of the city, and who were glad to meet and work side by side with new friends from other congregations, to engage in a common project to benefit the monastic community in this historic location.
The new garden design, created by Beth Blosser, member of All Saints' Anglican Church and a landscape gardener, includes a labyrinth for meditation, a fountain and pergola, paved paths beside the orange trees and a kitchen garden, historically a feature of all monastery gardens.
The Ecumenical Garden Project, Beth Blosser A laurel hedge borders the alley and Biblical plants adorn all parts of the garden.
There was a delay of more than a year while the application for an official permit was stalled in the infamous Italian bureaucracy. During this time fund-raising was slowly taking place and maintenance of the area continued. The Spring of 2016 has seen hundreds of flowers and trees planted; all have been taking root. With the generous donation by one of the families of All Saints’ Anglican Church of four stone and wrought-iron benches, six benches will be ready to place in the garden by September 1st.
The garden, not open to the public, will be a place of repose and contemplation for the monastic community, the dozen theological students who live in the complex during the academic year, guests who stay in the twelve rooms that overlook the garden, students from the nearby St. Stephen's School who have worked in the garden, and others who contribute through funding or manual labor to its restoration. The new Prior, George Nelliyanil, has contributed with much enthusiasm to the project. The garden is a place of Ecumenical gathering and the communion among different churches.
The formal Blessing and Dedication of the Garden took place on May 20th, with over 80 ecumenical guests.