"GOD'S GARDEN" - BIBLICAL GARDEN IN ŁOSIÓWKA
The biblical garden is a type of garden design which is considered the most beautiful one, as it is the closest to the ideal, namely the garden of Paradise. It is because the Book of Nature, which any garden is part of, is combined with a far greater book - the Bible.
Our garden now consists of four parts:
- Garden of Faith, Hope and Love
- Paschal Garden
- Church Garden
- Garden of Mercy
The biblical garden was created at the end of 2013. It is located on several lawns in front of the Salesian church, dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians in Krakow, in the district of Dębniki, the area of Łosiówka. The inspiration for its creation was Jesus` Parable of the Mulberry Tree and Mustard Seed (Lk 17, 5-6), as well as a real tree - the mulberry tree growing next to the church, on the lawn near the church car park. This parable, together with another parable about a mustard seed - the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13, 31-32), and the biological description of both plants, can be read on the information tablet, placed next to the mulberry tree. Beside it there is a tiny field, where we have sowed mustard, and in the middle of this field we have put a jar on a stick, with mustard seeds inside. Another important inspiration for creating the biblical garden in Łosiówka was the parish priest`s encounter with the founder of the biblical gardens in Poland and Central Europe, namely with Doctor Zofia Włodarczyk. The Parable of the Mulberry Tree and Mustard Seed refers to faith, therefore two meters away, next to an acacia tree, there is a tablet with biblical quotes about hope (the acacia symbolizes hope: Hebrews 6: 18b-18a, Wis 14, 6b, Ex 25, 10a) and another two meters further, a tablet with quotes about love (Mt 5, 43-45, Wis 39, 13), around which we have planted roses. The whole lawn was recultivated by laying a gardening nonwoven on the ground, which was covered with dark pebbles. Thus, the first part of the garden was created, dedicated to the so-called the divine (theological) virtues - faith, hope and love. It should be emphasized that from the very start when the garden was created, the tablets have included information in two languages: English and Polish. The reason was to allow people from outside Poland, including those participating in the World Youth Days in 2016, to benefit from the garden's message.
The second part of the garden is the Paschal Garden. It currently consists of six stations, which constitute an arrangement of plants and objects. These are - in order from the right side: Entry to Jerusalem (palm trees), Last Supper (corn and bitter herbs, a supper table with a plate and a mug), Olive Garden (olives and a prayer stone), Praetorium and Way of the Cross (Christ's thorn jujube, giant cane and creeping roses, as well as a whipping pole), Golgotha (wormwood and Christ`s thorn [Mediterranean twinflower], a rock with Jesus on the cross and figures of Mary and St. John the Apostle), and finally Lord`s Tomb (aloe and flax and an open grave).
Another part is the Church Garden. The inspiration for this idea came from the ten box trees which grow on the lawn. The trees are shaped into head-like balls and form a triangle with rounded ends. We decided to plant another two box trees, and equipped each tree (12 in total) with a tablet with the names of the apostles in Polish and English, and thus in our garden the twelve apostles appeared (the Church as the Community of believers, built on the twelve apostles). In addition, a small fir tree of a similar size was planted, symbolizing the Apostle of the Nations, i.e. St. Paul. Beside it we prepared a corn plot, with some weed growing among the grain ears (the believers bringing a plentiful harvest - the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds). In the middle of the garden there is an elm tree. It is shaped in the form of a head / umbrella, which symbolizes the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, and at the same time Christ, who is the head of the Church. Next, a vine was planted (the Church as a vineyard, Christ as the True Vine and the believers as the Vine`s branches). Later, we added a herd of sheep, which gradually grew in number (the Church as one flock). We surrounded the vineyard with a fence, fitted with a symbolic narrow gate (Christ as the Gate and the Church – a vineyard and a sheepfold with its fence) Finally, a rock was built (God - the Rock of Salvation, the Church - the Rock). The rock clings to Patriarch Jacob`s well, to which water flows from the rock (the Church as a space where we meet Jesus Christ, and as a source of God's grace).
The fourth part of the garden was created as a counterpoint to the garden of the Community of the Church. In the Bible, the act of leaving the Church is symbolically presented as a situation in which a lost sheep gets entangled in thorns as a result of departing from the garden of the Church. However, it is not really lost because the Good Shepherd is out there, looking for it. To get these two truths across, we erected a hill, with a sheep entangled in thorns on its top. Next to the animal we placed a wooden statue of the Pensive Christ, who is bending towards it. This arrangement illustrates the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), i.e. the mercy of God`s Son. Later, we added the representation of another two parables, recorded in St. Luke`s Gospel, about mercy. We depicted the Parable of the Lost Drachma, i.e. about the mercy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 15: 8-10) using a composition made up of a house floor and a broom leaning against the wall, while the Parable of the Lost Son, i.e. about Father's mercy (Lk 15, 11-32) is illustrated with the doorposts of a house, on which there is a fragment of Rembrandt's painting on this subject and the carob tree, as the fruit of this particular tree was what the younger son wanted to eat in exile. And this is how the Garden of Mercy was created. Its fourth element is the station of forgiveness, illustrating the question asked by Saint. Peter "How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?,” (Mt 18, 21-22) - seven stones form a question mark, and next to it there is a mound made of 77 stones.
Apart from Zofia Włodarczyk`s great inspiration and assistance, there are a lot of other wonderful people who have supported our project either financially as donors (including the local rosary group), or directly by joining in the creation of the garden. From the very beginning, the works have been supervised by the entrepreneur Ryszard Wierzbicki, who has often carried them out by himself. Father Robert Kruczek SDB (helped by his twin brother Leszek) has been our artistic consultant. He designed the objects in the garden - the Tomb of the Lord, Jacob's well with the rock of salvation, and Golgotha. All these structures were built by the stonemason master Mirosław Kowalczyk, a real artist working in stone. The garden owes much of its beauty to his exquisite workmanship. Also, it is worth remembering that the constructions in our garden are made of limestone, which is the same rock that was used to build the original objects in the Holy Land.
On December 8, 2016 "Fraternity of God`s Garden Lovers" was set up. Its purpose was to promote the garden`s development The Fraternity brings together parishioners and non-parishioners, who look after the biblical garden, i.e. the plants and objects, show the visitors around "God`s Garden" "and propagate the idea of biblical gardens. The Fraternity can be joined by both adults and minors - those between the ages of 15 and 18 with their parents' consent, while children under 15 are accepted together with their guardians. The Fraternity has its status, its board, a group of honorary members, and its own Internet subpage on the website of the Łosiówka pastoral community (where we are now).
On Sunday, October 23, 2016, at 17.30 TV Trwam broadcast- as part of the programme "Eye of the Camera" - the documentary “Book of nature" about biblical gardens, including our biblical garden in Łosiówka. We recommend seeing the entire film, which lasts 30 minutes. In 2017 we first took part in the Festival of Gardens in the Małopolska region.
Fr. Dr Robert Bieleń, SDB
Translated by Małgorzata Bieleń