BALTIMORE, Md. May that the new corner garden "Reflect the love of God that was so evident on that October day in 1995" intoned Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien during its dedication here on October 28, 2008.
The new prayer garden is centrally located downtown at the intersection of Charles and Franklin streets, adjacent to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This magnificent church is also know as The Baltimore Basilica - America's First Cathedral, having been dedicated in 1821 after 15 years of construction.
Sculpture Captures Memory of Historic Papal Visit. The above sculpture depicts Pope John Paul II embracing two enraptured children upon his Baltimore, Maryland arrival in 1995.
The focal point of the $1.5 million oval-shaped garden is the 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture of the late Pope John Paul II poised above an inscribed granite base 2 feet high, which stands at one end of the garden's center lawn. Baltimore native Joseph Shepard crafted the sculpture in his Pietrasanta, Italy studio. The artist's stylized work is based upon a photo of the eminent Polish-born Pope (Karol Josef Wojtyla) being greeted by enthusiastic children upon his arrival at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on October 8, 1995.
The captivating pocket-garden features dogwood trees, rose bushes, flowers and other plantings that border its perimeter pathway. It was designed by the internationally known landscape architect firm of Mahan Rykiel Associates. Baltimorean Scott Rykiel, the lead architect, was especially proud of his work, given his Polish-American heritage. Rykiel is also noted for his winning landscape design for the National Katyn Memorial located in the nearby Harbor East neighborhood.
Given the renewing nature of a garden, and in the true spirit of the diverse ecumenical fellowship that is also featured in this one, Cardinal William H. Keeler, in his blessing, said..."May this garden be a living memorial to religious freedom."
Polish American Journal Washington, DC Bureau November 5, 2008