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(December 17-21, 2004)

Kaz George

Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge

Elizabeth Gentile

Saint Margaret's Chapel

Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA

December 21, 2004

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© 2004 Elizabeth Gentile, All Rights Reserved.

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 the above 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 every day lives. It was and is a place to experience the spiritual side of things.

The Chapel is a small, simple structure; the scene of weddings and funerals, a room where parishioners go to pray together or alone, a place to meditate away from the outside, thoughts safe from intrusion. As neighborhoods change, some for poorer, some for richer, they must decide what shall stay and what shall go. St. Margaret's Shrine has stood the test of time - so far - despite the vandals and the ever present financial challenge to keep it up.

Today, most may not know why or how the Shrine of St. Margaret was built but the relevance of its original intent - to be a Monument to Peace, to honor those who die in war, to be a haven, a sanctuary - remains strong. Hopefully one day the wars will end and we will have our peace.

This work is dedicated to the memory of Nettie Massaro - a working woman who loved children, her religion and gave to all.
St. Margaret's Shrine has suffered greatly from recent vandalism - click here if you would like to arrange a donation. Thank you.

More of Elizabeth Gentile's QTVR 360's
Nikon D70 with Nikkor 10.5mm Lens - Manfrotto Tripod with Jasper Engineering Pano Head - Mac DP800 - Realviz Stitcher - Photoshop CS - CubicConverter
Behind the Scenes
Christmas is a difficult time of the year to set up your tripod in churches with all the decorating and holiday activities taking place. I managed to find a slow moment at St. Margaret's to capture the pictures which took about 45 minutes. It is best to take several panoramas at the same location because then you have a choice and a backup for unseen circumstances. Yes, things do not always go smoothly...The woman at the back of the chapel is named Mary - she is a friend and is waiting patiently for me to do my photography, we had just finished our weekly breakfast before the shoot. Mary was married in this chapel years ago and is the sister of Nettie. Most of what I know about St. Margaret's came from Mary and Isabelle who works for the Parish. My thanks to them for their help.

The choice of my Sanctuary was easy - I knew a very wonderful woman, Nettie Massaro, who loved St. Margaret's and whose funeral mass had been said there last June. Although I am not a Catholic, I recognized the importance of this place for the local parishioners and could see that this was and is a destination for people seeking sanctuary through prayer and thoughtful meditation.

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