The Sunken Gardens at Loretto
What adventures we had on Sunday! It was not just a day, it was practically its own mini-series. We lunched on burgers in Tyrone, then headed to Prince Gallitzin State Park for our first, last, and only swim there of the year. We visited the Sunken Gardens at Loretto, and then I got to shop at a favorite antiques and collectibles shop in Ebensburg. Wow, that's a lot for one day!
These two photos are from the gardens in Loretto, which is a very special place to me. My husband's mother used to take him there when he was just a little boy. Formerly the summer estate of U.S. Steel magnate Charles Schwab, featuring the "Limestone Castle" you see in this photo, and named “Immergrun” ("ever green"), it is now a friary, home to Franciscan monks.
The gardens are open from dawn to dusk, with free admission. They are well worth a visit, and they are only about a 90-minute drive from State College. There are gorgeous walkways with huge vines all around the edges, with the Stations of the Cross on display. The grounds are chock full of statues (including St. Francis, patron saint of Tiny Tigers), plants, trees, and all manner of lovely things.
There is a shrine to Our Lady of Fatima, and if you don't know that story, let me tell it briefly here. Three shepherd children in Portugal reported seeing a manifestation of the Virgin Mary in 1917. The children described her as "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." They said she wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand.
The little shrine is gorgeous, and it features the shining lady herself as well as the three shepherd children and their sheep. There are many votives there, and I lit several for loved ones and made some very specific prayer requests for them (best beloveds, do not be afraid to ASK for miracles!); also, prayers for my friends who have unspoken or unknown needs. You may see the shrine in the extra photos area of this prior blip.
There is a second little shrine area, and I went inside it too. I looked up to see a baby giving me the finger (as we say in America), and I was at first quite taken aback by that. But then I realized that the babe in arms was Jesus, and that he was actually raising two fingers in blessing. Oh, good. Much better! Nobody wants Jesus giving them the finger on a Sunday afternoon!
It was just gorgeous, every single bit of it, and it is hard to believe we get there so seldom. I have to admit that I have not even looked at all of the pictures I took from this day: of Prince Gallitzin, the place where my husband and I shared our first kiss back in 1986, on a boat; of the gardens and shrines which you see here; of the fabulous antiques and collectibles shop. But what a treasure trove of memories!
It is my custom to include a soundtrack song or two, and today is no exception. While we were swimming at Prince Gallitzin, a man and a woman were sitting at the picnic table nearest the water, and the man was strumming a guitar and singing. He wasn't doing a bad job of it, and I heard his words wafting sweetly out over the waters: Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. And I wanted a song about special prayers and this is one of my favorites: Buddy Jewell, with Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song).
Exploring the Sunken Gardens at Mount Assisi in Cambria County
Mount Assisi (Charles Schwab estate, "Limestone Castle")