| Rockford Register Star
ROCKFORD — A prayer garden on the campus of the Cathedral of St. Peter, 1243 N. Church St., was dedicated Saturday morning after a monthslong delay that was both weather-related and due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The garden’s focal point — a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas — was blessed by Bishop David J. Malloy to coincide with the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The statue was installed in the garden on Nov. 4. Benches, planters and a stone backdrop were added the following week.
“This is a public open space,” Malloy said. “Mary is open to the sky as we see her. She is open to everybody who would happen to come. This is not simply a place for Catholics or somehow reserved to Catholics, but for anyone of good will or spirituality looking for a place of peace, looking for a place to speak to their joys and their sorrows. That’s the whole meaning and significance of it.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe was selected as the centerpiece of the garden because her story and image represent the Americas, the Hispanic Catholic population of the Diocese of Rockford as well as being a symbol for the Respect for Life, the diocese said.
Those in attendance placed roses at the base of the statue and were invited to sign the original plans for the design of the prayer garden, which was completed in a space once occupied by the diocesan chancery office.
More: Former Rockford diocese chancery demolished
The chancery was razed in 2019 following an unsuccessful legal battle launched by preservationists, including former Mayor Larry Morrissey, to save the building.
A vacant former convent on the campus was also demolished.
“This is a beautiful space where not only church members can come and pray but individuals within the neighborhood as well,” Alderman Chad Tuneberg, R-3, said. “It’s a great space and a welcome addition.”