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Cloister Garden Now Open



The St Andrew's Cathedral Italian Cloister Garden was officially opened on Monday, 16 May 2011. This followed 18 months of work to create the dramatic new space next to the Cathedral.  

The garden has as its focal point a monument commemorating the Arandora Star tragedy, designed by Roman architect Giulia Chiarini. Its monumental mirrored plinths with inscriptions from the Gospel and the Italian poets, are set in a grass and slate landscape. A 200 year old olive tree, gifted by the people of Tuscany as a sign of peace and reconciliation is planted at its centre and a fountain and stream traverse the central space, symbols of life and hope.  Around the walls, marble plaques tell the story of the Cathedral, of the Catholic revival in Scotland and of the Arandora Star tragedy. The names of every one of the Scots-Italians who drowned on the ship have been carved on the central plinth.  

The splendid new facility is open from dawn to dusk and has already become a favourite tourist spot for visitors in Glasgow. It will also serve as a versatile and much-needed pastoral resource for the thousands of people  who frequent St Andrew's Cathedral each week.

At the opening, Archbishop Mario Conti was joined by First Minister Alex Salmond, the Lady Provost of Glasgow and Mr Rando Bertoia, the 91 year old who is the only living survivor of the Arandora Star tragedy which is commemorated in the central monument.

Also present were Giulia Chiarini, the architect from Rome who designed the garden and monument and representatives of the civic authorities in the towns from which most Scots Italians come – Barga and Pistoia in Tuscany and Picinisco and Filignano in the Lazio region south of Rome.

Musicians from Milan were flown in to provide musical accompaniment to the events.

The iconic silver mirrored central monument in the garden will recall all who died aboard the liner the Arandora Star, which was sunk while carrying mainly Italian civilians who had been rounded up from their homes, shops and cafes as “enemy aliens” in 1940. It is the largest monument to the disaster anywhere in the world.


Garden images here

Opening Ceremony here

Artist's Impressions here

Inscriptions on the Central Monument



The inscriptions on the central monument have been carefully chosen from the Gospels and the great Italian poets to reflect on the great mysteries of love and loss, life and death, especially in the light of the Arandora Star tragedy.

Translations courtesy of Professer Eileen Anne Millar, Emeritus Professor of Italian, University of Glasgow.





...a noi prescrisse il fato illacrimata sepoltura. (Foscolo)

… for us fate has ordained a tomb where no-one will weep. (Foscolo)

… Così tra questa immensità s’annega il pensier mio, e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare. (Leopardi)

… So engulfed am I in this immensity, that shipwreck is a welcome thought. (Leopardi)

Tu sai ben che ’n altrui non ho speranza. (Petrarca)

Lord, you know so well that my hope lies in you alone. (Petrarch)

…la bontà infinita ha sì gran braccia che prende ciò che si rivolge a lei. (Dante)

…infinite goodness has arms so wide that it welcomes all who approach. (Dante)

L'amore è intrepido. (Manzoni)

Love casts out fear. (Manzoni)

E’n la sua volontade è nostra pace: ell’è quel mare, al qual tutto si move. (Dante)

In His will is our peace: that sea to which everything flows. (Dante)

Making the News

The building and opening of the Italian Cloister Garden brought much media interest.  Click on the links below to read and see some of the coverage.

BBC news coverage here

STV news coverage here

The Herald coverage here

Paisley Daily Express coverage here




The garden has already attracted some high profile visitors.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti visited as part of the launch of her new musical collection "Italia".

Another visitor was Italian Ambassador to the Court of St James's, Alain Economides, who came to confer the title of knighthood or "Cavaliere" on author and food expert Mary Contini

The President of the Lazio Region and a group of Mayors from the area around Cassino visited the Garden in late 2011. The Archbishop thanked them for their generous contribution to the project.

A Facebook page has been set up to exchange information and news about the Arandora Star Tragedy.  It has links to other memorials round the world. It can be found here:

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