Holy Wisdom aspires to
ever greater levels of hospitality

The monastery land has long been sacred ground and our guests experience this when they visit.

In seeking ways to expand its service to the Holy Wisdom Monastery community of communities, the Benedictine Women of Madison identified the need to expand interment space for the cremains of loved ones and envisioned the Holy Wisdom Memorial Courtyard.

Holy Wisdom Memorial Courtyard

This space will serve as a ministry to individuals and families with an immediate need and those who seek peace by pre-planning their final resting place in advance. To be able to extend Benedictine hospitality and comfort to those who are grieving is a privilege to us.

The courtyard is west-facing, located in a beautiful and peaceful place behind the Monastery Building and overlooking Lost Lake.  The setting invites solitary contemplation, as well as offering a welcoming space for gatherings of family and friends to remember loved ones.

The Memorial Courtyard is also in full view of the Monastery Oratory, the small chapel where the sisters’ community and others gather five times each day for Liturgy of the Hours and Centering Prayer.

The columbarium-ossuarium is at the center of a harmoniously-designed garden of native flora envisioned by the sisters and planned and created by a team of local landscape architects, volunteers and our own land management staff. Teak benches provide visitors with places to rest and enjoy quiet, contemplative reflection.

Reserve Your SpaceLearn More


The original columbarium was built into the western wall of the monastery building when it was constructed in 2009. The columbarium is a structure for the respectful storage of cremated remains of the deceased. A Columbarium is a time-honored option as a final resting place.

Our 2009 columbarium is a display wall fitted with 56 niches (recessed into the wall), each designed to hold the cremated remains of up to two people.


On Wednesday, July 22, 2021 an ossuarium was installed in the Memorial Courtyard. This is a free-standing granite structure that includes columbarium niches and an ossuary for communal burial.

Ossuary is an ancient term that describes a space that communally holds the remains of numerous people.  The term ossuary is less familiar in the United States, but has a long history in other countries.

The Holy Wisdom Memorial Courtyard features a circular ossuarium, 3 rows high with 72 companion niches, accommodating the remains of up to 144 people. The ossuary at the center of the granite structure will accommodate the cremains of an additional 240 satin urns.

Reserving a space

Community members and stakeholders of Holy Wisdom Monastery are invited to reserve a space in the Holy Wisdom Memorial Courtyard.

Memorial Courtyard Pricing
Price for Single occupancy Price for
Double occupancy
Ossuary Niche –
Heavenly Level (row 1)
$4,495 $6,495
Ossuary Niche –
Heart Level (row 3)
$3,995 $5,995
Ossuary Niche –
Hand Level (row 4)
$3,495 $5,495
Ossuary Internal Vault $2,495 NA
Columbarium Wall Niche –
Heavenly Level (row 1-2)
Columbarium Wall Niche –
Heavenly Level (row 3)
$4,495 $6,495
Columbarium Wall Niche –
Heart Level (row 4-5)
$3,995 $5,995
Columbarium Wall Niche –
Hand Level (row 6-7)
$3,495 $5,495
Reserve Your SpaceLearn More


Memorial Courtyard opportunities

Friends of Holy Wisdom are invited to participate in completion of the Memorial Courtyard.

Project budget: $167,378
Amount raised (as of Oct. 1 2021) $100,814
Amount needed: $66,564

Thanks to early gifts, planning and engineering work have been accomplished. Walkways and concrete work for the granite columbarium-ossuarium were installed in June 2021, the columbarium-ossuarium structure was delivered in July 2021, native plants were added in August, 2021 and the benches were installed in October 2021.

The fundraising goal includes a maintenance endowment to insure the Memorial Courtyard will be cared for in perpetuity.

Below is a list of major project elements along with the fundraising goal for each. Progress has been made toward funding a number of the elements.

Project Elements Total Goal
Design $14,615
Engineering & Construction $26,992
Electrical Lighting $12,420
Walkway Paving Stones $32,500
Ossuarium Unit $50,232
Benches (3 available) $22,935
Native Plantings $5,000
Threshold Stone $1,184
Wayfinding Signage $1,500

Contact us

For more information on how to reserve interment space or make a gift to support the Memorial Courtyard, contact Nancy Sandleback, nsandleback@holywisdommonastery.org, 608-836-1631, x105.

Thank you to our donors

We are grateful to our generous donors have supported the Holy Wisdom Memorial Courtyard as of October 1, 2021.

Raj & Chickee Atalla
Jane Ayer
Amy Bonomie
Linda Candin
Frank Court
Peg Davey and Tom Zanzig
Lisa Fromm-Sarto
Mary Jane Gogan
Andy Gogan
Susan Gogan
Mary Hoddy
Ann Huggett
Abbie Loomis
Norma & Doug Madsen
Gary Maier
Marianne Moss
Sister Margaret O’Brien
Jean Pfeifer
Pat Quinn-Casper and Michael Casper
Bob Smith
Agnes Steichen
Town of Westport
Bob Weiss