By: Raymond Guarini
After the last blog post, I was reminded of another amazing place that I have visited about five years ago during Lent that was also a message of peace. After Easter dinner, I dug up some old photos from my visit to Saint Margaret’s shrine in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
There was a significant Italian enclave surrounding Saint Raphael church in downtown Bridgeport during the early twentieth century, but as the parishioner base grew and more Italians migrated to Connecticut at the end of the 1930’s, there was a great need for a place of worship for Italians in the northern parts of the area.
Reverend Emilio Iasiello, the pastor of Saint Raphael, searched for a piece of property and eventually, with the help of the Italian community in Bridgeport, was able to purchase land on Bridgeport’s Park Avenue where a modest chapel was erected and named in honor of Saint Margaret. Soon, other small plots of land adjacent to the chapel were purchased. The church was consecrated on September 20th, 1942. Pastor Iasiello’s mission was to establish this place as a monument of peace and a memorial to those lives lost during World War 2, especially after the attack of Pearl Harbor, which particularly troubled Reverend Iasiello. The property then attracted the talented masons and landscapers from the Italian community to recreate spiritual scenes with grottoes and statues placed around the grounds.
The Italian community in Connecticut and specifically Bridgeport, still come to the chapel of Saint Margaret for daily mass but the most attractive event happens every summer, the feast of Saint Anthony. Thousands still flock to the grounds of the Saint Margaret Shrine for this decades old feast. It is truly a sight to see (please see link below to the Saint Margaret Shrine’s website and more information about the Saint Anthony Feast).
I hope you enjoy the photos from my trip to the Saint Margaret Shrine below. The photos were taken in 2015: