St. Peter’s monastery - The monastery and its gardens

The garden as a place of prayer


The monastery complex on Peter’s hill served as a Benedictine abbey for over seven centuries. In all these years, a series of different gardens allowed the monks to be self-sufficient, a rule that Saint Benedict of Nursia had laid down in his treatise on monastic life. They cultivated gardens featuring fruit trees and shrubs (Pomarium), vegetables (Hortus), and medicinal plants (Herbularius). In addition they managed vineyards (Vinetum) and other arable land outside the monastery’s premises. The cloister garden was the place for spiritual meditation and silent prayer. Manual work in the fruit and vegetable gardens was seen as another ascetic contribution towards spiritual perfection. Living in the monastery and cultivating their gardens, the monks returned to the idea of a biblical paradise.