The Rev’d Dana English, at left with friend Mary Styles, first came to the Garden in June of 2012 for her pre-ordination retreat in the Church of England. For six years it has provided an ever-greener space for quiet early morning weeding sessions as well as conversation and laughter with friends across denominations on scattered Saturdays. Now living in London, Dana stays in one of the 12 guest rooms at S. Gregorio when she visits Rome, giving her renewed opportunity to meet friends in the Garden. Her son Sam has now become involved in the U. S. affiliate, a newly-fledged non-profit corporation that will help provide funds for the ongoing maintenance of the Garden.

Where We Are

Sam Whalen is the founder and current President of The Ecumenical Garden Project non profit corporation. It was founded in July of 2017 to oversee fundraising and spending, and to ensure that the garden will always be cared for in the future. As a third year at the University of Chicago, Sam flies often between Rome and Chicago to oversee the wonderful progress being made in the garden. "I first got involved with the garden through a community service outreach program while attending St. Stephen's. I quickly became involved and saw the opportunity to found a non-profit to secure the garden's future." Currently pursuing a BS in Computer Science, Sam is interested in Assembly and Procedural Programming, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and English Literature.

Beth Blosser is a garden designer who has worked for many years in the Municipal Office of Villas and Historic Gardens. A member of the congregation of All Saints’ Anglican church, she was approached by Rev. Dana English to draw up a project to refurbish the abandoned garden behind the church of St. Gregory the Great on the Caelian hill, what would then become our Ecumenical Garden. Beth was responsible for the garden’s design, and overseeing its approval by the Municipal Office for Monuments and Cultural Heritage and supervising its completion.

The Garden

The Ecumenical Garden Project, sponsored by the English-speaking churches of Rome, "Churches Together in Rome", was initiated by the Reverend Dana English, an Anglican priest on the staff of All Saints' Anglican Church, Rome, in September 2012. The project was conceived as a memorial to a colleague who died soon after their pre-ordination retreat was held in the garden in June of 2012.

An opportunity for persons from all branches of the Christian Church to come together, the project began immediately in the autumn of 2012 with volunteers from Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Roman Catholic churches gathering on successive Saturdays for work sessions to clear the overgrown site.

It was a chance for many people who love gardens, but who have no garden of their own in the center of the city, and who were glad to meet and work side by side with new friends from other congregations, to engage in a common project to benefit the monastic community in this historic location

Prior George Nelliyanil is the current Prior of the San Gregorio Monastery, within the confines of which the garden lies. He has been a dedicated supporter of the project since its conception. He is a current trustee on the board of The Ecumenical Garden Project.

Daphne Allen Daphne Allen is a dedicated member of All Saint's Church, Rome, and a trustee on the board of The Ecumenical Garden Project. "I have lived in Rome for 55 years - having come originally to work for the United Nations specialized agency for Food and Agriculture (FAO). Now retired and delighted to spend time volunteering in the Ecumenical Garden. We enjoy the opportunity of meeting together with friends from other church communities, and hope to make the Garden a place of peace and tranquillity in the midst of chaotic Roman traffic!"

More on the Garden

The new garden design, created by Beth Blosser, member of All Saints' Anglican Church and a landscape gardener, includes a labyrinth for meditation, a fountain and pergola, paved paths beside the orange trees and a kitchen garden, historically a feature of all monastery gardens.

The plants chosen are a mix of indigenous plants to remind visitors of the sacred groves that once covered the area (and also because they are easy to cultivate), plants with medicinal or household uses like those cultivated in Medieval monasteries (wormwood, lemon balm, foxglove, feverfew, winter savory, tansy), biblical plants (the fig, the pomegranate, the grape vine, common rue) and plants with ties to the bible – through their name (such as Solomon’s seal and Monkshood) or their symbol – like the Rose, the symbol of Mary – of which there are a number of different varieties.

A laurel hedge borders the alley and Biblical plants adorn all parts of the garden. There was a delay of more than a year while the application for an official permit was stalled in the infamous Italian bureaucracy. During this time fund-raising was slowly taking place and maintenance of the area continued. In the Spring of 2016 hundreds of flowers and trees were planted; all took root and have flourished. With the generous donation by one of the families of All Saints’ Church of four stone and wrought-iron benches, six benches were placed in the garden by September 1st of that year.

History of the Monastery

The Church and Monastery of S. Gregorio al Celio in Rome is a place like no other. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 A.D.) converted his family's patrician villa into a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew soon after the death of his father. At one time elected Prefect of the city of Rome, Gregory was a superb administrator, and on at least one occasion saved the people of Rome from starvation.

Reluctantly made Pope, by acclamation, Gregory left the contemplative life in the monastery he had created to turn his attention to administrative affairs and teaching. He was a great teacher and reformer; many of his pastoral writings and sermons are preserved. He is famous for having sent a mission to re-evangelize the English in the year 597 A.D.; forty monks who journeyed there under the leadership of Augustine of Canterbury. They re-established the Christian faith in the British Isles after the invasions of the Vikings and other tribes had sounded the death knell of Roman Britain. He is famous for having sent a mission to re-evangelize the English in the year 597 A.D.; forty monks who journeyed there under the leadership of Augustine of Canterbury.

They re-established the Christian faith in the British Isles after the invasions of the Vikings and other tribes had sounded the death knell of Roman Britain. Because of the success of this mission, the site of Gregory's monastery is today the most important meeting-place for Anglicans and Roman Catholics, a present symbol of their common roots. When the Archbishop of Canterbury visits Rome, he and the Pope worship together in a vespers service held at S. Gregorio.

Wayne and Rose Wentz moved to Rome from Seattle five years ago. Rose has dedicated much of her time and talent to the garden, and is always seen during gardening sessions and planning. Wayne is heavily involved with the garden and serves on the board of trustees of the Ecumenical Garden Project. As well as being members of the Caravita community, they have had gardens at their homes for over 40 years and are excited to have an opportunity to garden in Rome. Their goal is to have the Ecumenical Garden open and available to many people to enjoy.

US Bank Account

Please contact Sam Whalen at samwhalen@uchicago.edu for details.

Italian Bank Account

Banca Popolare di Sondrio IBAN:
IT60 J056 9603 2240 0000 3599 X14
BIC-SWIFT: POSOIT22

If you would prefer to make a direct transfer to our US or Italian bank account, the details follow above. Please email Sam Whalen at samwhalen@uchicago.edu to make sure a donation to either account has been received. If donating to our Italian bank account, please make sure the intestazione is for "Casa Generalizia Congregazione Eremiti Camaldolesi, Piazza San Gregorio, 1, 00184 - Roma." Please also designate clearly that the deposit is for “The Ecumenical Garden Project," or contact the Reverend Dana English at dlenglish@aya.yale.edu. Thank you! If would instead prefer to donate directly online, through Paypal, follow the link below.


Each and every donation is greatly appreciated. Our gardeners and volunteers are working day in and day out to see that the garden remains a beautifully composed space for prayer, reflection and meditation. We are in constant need of funds to support additions to the garden, and to pay for its upkeep and maintenance. The Ecumenical Garden Project is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) non profit corporation.