- Mary Mother of Jesus
Mary, the mother and the first disciple of Jesus, welcomes the pilgrims to this sacred place. She shows them the way of salvation – Jesus, and to them she repeats the same words she said to the servants at Cana’s wedding: “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU”. (Jn. 2: 5).
This space, the very last construction by Fr. Santoro in 2015 is a space where the pilgrims pray the Rosary and take some moments to ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, both when they enter and when they leave the shrine.
It is found immediately after the official entrance to the Garden known as the “Mlango wa Mbingu” = The Gate of Heaven. The blessed Virgin Mary is praised in the Loreto litany as the Door/Gate of heaven. Her statue in bronze holding baby Jesus therefore stands at the entrance as the guide to the pilgrims who by their pilgrimage to the Resurrection Garden go to seek the way to heaven. She directs the pilgrims to listen to the Words of her Son Jesus. These are the words that fill the Garden in different inscriptions.
- The Way of Salvation
The way of salvation for man starts in a garden, precisely the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. These our first parents experienced the presence of God but they misused it through their disobedience. This history of salvation is narrated in a series of seven mosaics realized and fixed in situ by Mr and Mrs William and Rosanna Bertoja of Friul Mosaics of Pordenone in northern Italy.
This narration in the Resurrection Garden starts with this fall of Adam and Eve (1st Mosaic) narrated in Genesis 3;10-15. God then establishes a covenant with man at Mt Sinai where He gave to Moses the 10 commandments (2nd Mosaic – Exodus 20:1-7). At the fullness of time, the Angel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to a virgin called Mary to announce that she would give birth to the expected Messiah (3rd Mosaic – Luke 1:26-38). Eventually, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah in a Manger (4th Mosaic – Luke 2:1-7). He started His salvific mission by His preaching in the company of His disciples – the Sermon on the Mountain (7th Mosaic – Mathew 5) and His teachings through parables – the Prodigal Son (6th Mosaic – Luke 15:11-24). He then fulfilled the messianic promises by His care for the poor, the less fortunate, the sick – the healing of the paralytic (5th Mosaic – Mathew 9:2-7).
Through this Way of Salvation, each pilgrim who visits is reminded that he/she is a garden of God, and thus never to misuse that presence of God. Jesus came for our Salvation which He realized by His suffering, death and Resurrection. Thus, after the Way of Salvation follows immediately the Chapel dedicated to the Last Supper of Jesus and then the Way of the Cross – His passion.
- Way of the Cross
The history of the Way of the Cross in the Resurrection Garden is directly connected with the primary intention of the project that later came to be known as the Resurrection Garden. The Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga wanted to put the Way of the Cross in the niches of the present day Holy Family Minor Basilica of Nairobi. (See the History)
When in 1984 he contacted Fr. Ottavio Santoro, IMC, to cooperate in the project, they first realized the bronze panel of the 15th Station of the Cross, i.e., that of the Resurrection – and hence the future name, Resurrection Garden. The panel of the Resurrection was made by Giuseppe Audino while the other panels were molded by Luciano Finocchiaro from Catania, Italy. On 19th October 1988, Pope St. John Paul II blessed the panel of the 8th station in the presence of Cardinal Otunga, Fr. Santoro and some benefactors at St. Peter’s square.
Later, Fr Santoro and his collaborators realized that around the Holy Family Minor Basilica was not the best place to put those panels because the place was both congested and with a lot of noise from every direction, thus making it less appropriate for prayers. The Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga gave Fr. Santoro permission to go and look for that appropriate place and in 1989, he eventually found the ground where the Way of the Cross is situated today in the Resurrection Garden – Karen.
The stations of the Cross in the Resurrection Garden are 16 and not 15 as in the tradition of the Church. This is because the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga wanted that before the first station, there be another station of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. This first station gives the meaning of the Way of the Cross in the Resurrection Garden. Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested. Every pilgrim who visits Resurrection Garden should feel himself/herself just like Jesus praying in the garden and in touch with God the Father. And like Jesus, and His Mother Mary, learn to abandon oneself to the will of God.