Santa Clara University

St. Clare Garden

The Donor

Ruth and Bill Nicholson

Ruth and Bill Nicholson, family photo, undated

Bill Nicholson, a member of the Class of ’36 at Santa Clara University, and his children George, Bruce, Kathleen ’80, Mark, Martha, and John ’76, donated the St. Clare Garden to the university in loving memory of Ruth Nicholson. Bill and Ruth were married in 1937, and had been married for 64 years when Ruth passed away in December 2001.

Nicholson Memorial Plaque

The garden was dedicated November 19, 2003. In the words of President Paul Locatelli, S.J., a speaker at the dedication of the garden, “The addition of a new garden on campus to memorialize the life of Ruth Nicholson and to remind us of the life of the university’s patron saint is a tremendous gift to this community. Already, faculty, staff, and students have found this garden a beautiful place to gather, to reflect and to find peace during their busy days.”

Bill and John Nicholson

Bill Nicholson and son John at dedication ceremony

The celebrant was Michael Zampelli, S.J., associate professor of theater at Santa Clara University. Here is the text of his dedicatory prayer:

"The time has come for blessing, for calling down God’s spirit upon this garden, upon its benefactors, upon all those who will enjoy its fruit. In this, the 750th anniversary since the death of St. Clare of Assisi, the patron of the this University and this garden, let us pray:

Almighty and Eternal God, You have planted humankind like a vine in the rich soil of this earth, so that we might bear the good and lasting fruit of love, justice and peace. You nurture us and prune us, You tend to the vine that Your right hand has planted, so that we might mature in understanding, in compassion, in holiness. You yearn for us to grow toward you, the Source of all Life and all Goodness, and in so doing become the bearers of life and goodness to all the world.

Look kindly upon Your children gathered here in St. Clare’s Garden. We praise You, lightsome God for the gift of Clare, her “wondrous blessed clarity” that now shines on us like a “brilliant sun.” “She was a truly a noble and lofty tree with wide-spreading branches, which bore…sweet the field of the Church.” “She was [a] woman who poured forth a new fountain of the water of life to refresh and benefit souls.”

Garden Blessing

We praise You, abundant God, for the Nicholson family, those here present and those who now live with You, whose generosity has made possible this place of beauty and restful contemplation. We praise You, ever-laboring God for all the women and men whose work in planning, planting, and cultivating this garden have mirrored Your own work of creating and sustaining the Universe.

Loving and compassionate God, pour out Your Spirit upon this garden, upon those gathered here for its dedication, and upon all those whose feet will tread its paths. May this garden be a place where all manner of person might see clearly to the “deep-down heart of things” and discover beauty, truth and goodness. May this garden be a place of rest and refreshment for all those who “labor and are heavily burdened.” May this garden be a place of communion for those who feel alone and a place of light for those who live in shadows.

May this garden remind all its visitors that You are the one True Gardener, and that You pour Your Life into each and every one of us, that You tenderly care for us so that we might tenderly care for one another. Help us, gracious God, to grow towards You in our own uniquely beautiful ways. We ask this through Christ, our Lord, from whom all good things come."

Dedication ceremony


This web site was written and designed by Nancy Lucid whose research was supported by a generous grant from the Bannan Institute for Jesuit Educational Mission at Santa Clara University.

For questions regarding the web site contact Nancy Lucid.  All rights reserved.

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