I’ve been to the monastery about sixty bizillion times. Give or take a zillion. I’ve walked the grounds, the gardens, the stations of the cross, the Holy Land replicas. I’ve been to Mass. I’ve bought my spring plants here, some of which I’ve kept alive for the summer. Now that’s a miracle!

In addition to an amazing array of roses–red, pink, yellow, white, white with pink and pink with white, creamy yellow edged with a brick red, magenta, orange, blue-red, you get it. So, in addition to this rose cornucopia there are lilies and dahlias and ferns and hostas and lily pads and pines and oaks. And daisies.

Just beyond the entrance, at the driveway that is punctuated by a long strip filled with more foliage and a dark bronze statue of a child on the shoulders of a man, is the church. As Mass ends and the faithful disperse, interlopers with friends on leash are greeted and the leashed are petted by the brothers of St. Francis.

Those Franciscans are quite welcoming to puppers. I’ve walked The Beast through these spaces many times. And the uncles of The Beast–his foredoggers–too. Today was the blessing of the animals. This is an event celebrated during the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Folks bring their pets, and they are petted in the most holy of ways. By Franciscans.

After The Beast got his absolution, we walked through the gardens and then across the main grounds and crossed in front of the church. A walkway frames three sides of the grounds around the church. It is the Rosary Portico. I usually make my way clockwise, and occassionally counter clockwise viewing the mosaics depicting the mysteries of the rosary. The mysteries–joyful, sorrowful and glorious–are contexts for the faithful. The monastery provides art and 200 different translations of the Hail Mary. There is really alot going on.

I guess because we had done the blessing thing, when I routed back through the upper grounds I walked into the colonnade smack into The Coronation of the Virgin. For the first time, I saw that the crown that was being placed on Mary’s head was sparkly gold, and the crown on her son was, too. It was beautiful and striking, and I had never seen it before.

Coming into the portico from the bright garden let me see the mosaic in a literal different light and encouraged me to see that which was familiar fresh.

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