The Viewfinder: St. Mary begins construction of prayer garden

Published 12:34 am Thursday, May 2, 2019


NATCHEZ — After four years in the making, a planned St. Mary Basilica Prayer Garden at Main and Rankin streets is beginning to take shape.

A labyrinth, a walking path, a meditation space, and prayer area will be features of the garden, said the Rev. David O’Connor, pastor of St. Mary Basilica.

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“Labyrinths have been used by all denominations and have a long history in Europe,” O’Connor said.

The Main Street side of the garden will include 14 stops for mediation or prayer, O’Connor said, adding that in traditional Catholic beliefs the stops are referred to as the “Stations of the Cross,” which depict different stages in Jesus’ journey from his condemnation to death and burial in the tomb.

“If you are Roman Catholic, instead of just leaving it a prayer walk or reflection time, then you could pursue the path of the 14 stations,” O’Connor said. “In other words, we are putting in an additional layer of prayer meaning, if you’d like.”

On the side closer to Rankin Street will be eight mediation/prayer stops focused on the beatitudes, O’Connor said.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the merciful,” O’Connor said. “If you have a Bible background, you understand they are basically a guideline for life.”

The walkway leads to a shrine of the Virgin Mary in the center. Behind the 6-foot statue will be another walkway designed for people wanting to pray the “Rosary” including five meditation stops dedicated to the different “Mystery of the rosary,” O’Connor said.

“The labyrinth is nondenominational,” O’Connor said. “If you’d like, we have just added additional layers of meaning to it. The prayer garden will be open to everyone 24 hours a day and open to everyone.”

O’Connor said the prayer garden should be finished within a month and a half or two months.

“Our goal is that St. Mary Basilica Payer Garden will be a place of prayer, peace and solace for many people, and a place where God is given praise and glory,” O’Connor said.