CHARLESTON—When Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone blessed the new meditation garden at Bon Secours-St. Francis Xavier Hospital he described it as a place where people can find God.
Indeed, during an April 28 ceremony, the picturesque setting seemed like a chapel with a green canopy of live oaks as its ceiling, carpets of grass and flowers, and a life-like statue of Christ lit by the setting sun.
“It has been said if we are to find peace, comfort and a safe place we have to find God,” the bishop said. “This is a place where people can come and experience the presence of God.”
He said the garden would provide comfort to thousands of people who are attending their loved ones when they are ill.
The newly transformed space is located on 2.5 acres of the hospital’s West Ashley campus. One of its many features is a 6-foot limestone sculpture of the living Christ.
The meditation garden was funded principally by the Roper St. Francis Foundation, the McQueeney Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, the Molony family, and Beverly and Jack Hoover.
“The opening of our meditation garden marks the realization of a dream we’ve had since moving to this beautiful wooded campus in 1996,” said Allen Carroll, CEO of the hospital. “This would not have been possible without the generosity and vision of the donors who have supported this wonderful endeavor.”
The area includes a labyrinth modeled after the one found in the floor of Chartres Cathedral of Notre Dame near Paris; a garden with fall and winter blooming camellias, hollies and magnolias; a prayer garden with a fountain; and statuary. It is connected by winding pathways and entry portals. The project honors the Sisters of Bon Secours and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, said Sister Patricia Eck, chairwoman of the board for Bon Secours Health System.
“I pray that this garden will grow like this ministry of Bon Secours-St. Francis,” she said.
St. Francis Xavier Hospital was founded as a 15-bed infirmary by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy in 1882. They transferred the sponsorship to the Sisters of Bon Secours in 1989 and the hospital became part of the Bon Secours Health System.
The facility was relocated from peninsular Charleston to West Ashley in 1996 and became Bon Secours-St. Francis Xavier Hospital.
Sister Bridget Sullivan, the OLM superior general, and several members of her community also attended the garden ceremony. She said the order was honored by the dedication.
“May this sacred space be a gift to all who enter here for this is holy ground,” she said.
Sanford Byers of Byers Design Group, LLC, the land planner and landscape designer for the hospital campus, said he hopes visitors will leave with a sense of enhanced well-being and inspiration from encountering the space.
“The purpose of the garden is to engage the senses in various ways — be it the overall visual beauty and symbolism of the garden, smell of fragrant flowers and foliages, sound of water and chimes sounding in the breeze of the oak canopy, and the tactile sensation of various stone textures underfoot as you traverse the garden,” he said.
Tim Doyle is the artist responsible for the statue of Christ. His works over the past 30 years have included many notable carvings in significant public and private settings, including the Washington National Cathedral and the West Point Military Academy main gate, called the Thayer Gate.
The statue was commissioned by The Sonny Mevers Foundation in memory of Margaret McAlister Mevers.