Update: The Knotted Grotto


A new life for thousands of prayers from East Falls and around the world.

When Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in 2015, two East Falls artists — Dan & Stephanie Ostrov on Stanton Street — were part of the team creating an ambitious public art installation for the occasion, a key part of which was fabricated right here in the neighborhood.

“The Knotted Grotto” was a one-story open globe structure anchoring dramatic swoops of fluttering ribbons – each one a hand-written prayer collected from all over the world. More than 60,000 were tied to & around the structure. It was at once peaceful, poignant and powerful. Thousands visited the Knotted Grotto at Sts Peter & Paul Basilica, including the Holy Father, who blessed it.

TRUE STORY: the first prayers tied to the Knotted Grotto were from Fallsers! Before the dome was installed on the Parkway, many neighbors came out for its unveiling, where they added their own hopes & blessings on the ribbons provided.

After the Vatican visit, the Knotted Grotto was dismantled so lead artist Meg Saligman could re-envision a new Knotted installation, a continuation of the first, to welcome residents to the new John Bon Jovi Soul Homes on North Broad.

Her new piece, Knotted Shelter, stems from the question: “What would happen if we could dye our prayers and struggles and different color, and see them in a new way?”

The Grotto’s thousands of prayers were dyed a rainbow of different shades, and scrolled/knotted/knitted/woven into an illuminated arch over the building’s entrance. “It’s so peaceful,” said Paula Holesworth Dougherty, who attended the Knotted Grotto’s local unveiling two years ago.

Paula happened upon the installation’s construction while downtown recently, and raved about this new interpretation. She admired how creatively the prayer ribbons were repurposed, and likened the new hues and patterns to “butterflies wings in a wave of color.”

Sounds like a perfect metaphor.

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes provide permanent supportive housing for adults, with recovery-oriented activities aimed at personal growth & self-sufficiency. Project HOME also offers health care, education, and employment – and in addition funded both the Knotted Grotto and the Knotted Shelter.

This latest SBJ Soul Home for North Philly officially opens in March 2018, stay tuned for exciting opportunities to view Knotted Shelter and learn more about the good work being done by Project HOME and MLS Studio.

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