In 2006, in celebration of New Skete’s 40th anniversary, we embarked on a special project that enhanced our core monastic value of hospitality. Creating a sense of sacred space between our two churches, our Meditation Gardens of Holy Wisdom Temple feature a gently sloping pathway for improved access (replacing two sets of stairs.)
Constructed of stone from our mountain and slate from nearby Granville, NY, it provides an inviting, hospitable, and gracious welcome for our visitors, day guests, neighbors, retreatants, customers, Chapel Community and monastics. This peaceful landscape features a three-tiered series of perennials and water gardens, cascading pools with fish and frogs, and benches for reading and quiet reflection or conversation.
The Meditation Gardens serve as a lovely setting for the beginning of the Sunday Divine Liturgy and other festal celebrations such as the Blessings of the Animals for the Feast of St Francis.
The Bell Tower was built in 1980 and contains seventeen bells. In designing the tower, the Monks were inspired by the wooden bell towers of the Carpathian Mountains in eastern Europe. Traditionally, the bells are struck, not swung. They are rung by hand before each service. The peals announcing major services are composed of rapidly repeated musical patterns played in rhythm with the steady tolling of the largest bell. The art of tolling bells has been handed down within Orthodox monasteries and churches by unwritten traditions.
The largest bell was cast in 1855 by Meneelly of nearby Troy, New York, and is a gift from the former Roman Catholic parish of St. Paul’s in Hudson Falls, New York. The other two Meneelly bells were found locally, and a set of twelve bells from Croyden, England, was donated by the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, Connecticut. The two smallest bells were cast in Holland by Schulmerich and are a memorial gift.
The bells are rung three times each day, calling us to prayer in the temple.
"Music gives access to the heart's deepest emotions, bringing them to light in a natural flowering that creates a deep sense of unity and peacefulness."