Hail Mary, Full of Mace
St. Margaret’s Shrine (Vatican Gardens Replica), Bridgeport
May 17, 2008
I’m stuck. I don’t know what to write. But really, this place certainly deserves a spot on CTMQ as it is unique and interesting. As I am not Catholic, nor was I ever Catholic, I cannot speak upon the various saints and icons and all that stuff. I did have my friend Rob C. with me, however, who knows a Papal thing or two. All I can tell you is that someone with a lot of faith and free time went nuts at St. Margaret’s Chapel in a suburban area in Bridgeport.
Fortunately, we have the Internet these days, to assist your author with such explanatory endeavors. So, Internet, how did this place come about?
St. Margaret’s Chapel was built in the year 1942. The world was at war – men, women and children were dying – how does a community honor those people who lose their lives during such treacherous times? One community in suburban Bridgeport CT planned and erected St. Margaret’s Chapel and Shrine partly for this purpose, it would be a Monument to Peace built in memory of those who had lost their lives. The people, who were of Catholic faith, chose the name St. Margaret after the shepherdess who is the patron saint of pregnant women and working girls.
Over the years, the area surrounding the church with its rocky terrain came to be the home of numerous religious shrines and gardens. This was an area where ordinary people came from all over to experience the feeling of a precious sanctuary – for moments escaping the harsh realities that they faced in their everyday lives. It was and is a place to experience the spiritual side of things.
Wait – patron saint of working girls? I’m confused by that, but I’ll let it go.
Oh there’s more! A maudlin YouTube video of the place set to Tom Waits’ “Georgia Lee.” If that one was too slow, this one is a bit more upbeat (with more irony and imagery than I could piece together) set to Waits’ wonderful Chocolate Jesus. Both pretty much tell the whole story of this haunting and surreal place.
Like Waterbury’s singular Holy Land (CTMQ Visit here!), this shrine was really quite a site at one time. But now it is run down and kitschy and weird. There are paths up hills to nowhere and little buildings with nothing in them anymore. There are copies of statues in grottos containing mosaics, and replicas of famous pieces like Michaelangelos’ Pieta.
I don’t have much more except that I’m glad I stopped by here on my day long Bridgeport-Milford CTMQ day. Next time I run into a working girl, I’ll let her know I said a prayer for her over at her Patron Saint’s shrine. Oh yeah… and apparently people get married here. To each their own.