Members of religious orders have always had a need to garden, inspired no doubt by one of the Christian faith’s noted cultivators, Saint Fiacre, a green-fingered holy man who became the patron saint of gardeners.
When monks, friars and nuns established their enclaves, they turned to gardens of herbs, wildflowers and vegetables to feed and heal themselves. Other essential elements: a dairy and a fruit orchard. Apiaries also played a key role, providing honey, mead and beeswax for candles.
The garden, as Westerners know it, survived the Dark Ages because of monasteries. Given these traditions, it was natural for the founders of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America to count on a small farm when in 1897 they purchased 100 acres of open land in Northeast Washington.