Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Virgin Mary stump update

A $200M redevelopment project is slated to go up across he street from the Virgin Mary stump in Passaic and folks are wondering if Mary has to go. Councilman Jon Soto said a religious altar should not be allowed to remain on public property. “Although the shrine is sacred to some, it’s on public property and in the sense of the separation of church and state we can’t have a shrine here”. He wanted to debate it at a town council meeting but the mayor said the town lawyers should examine the issue before any debate. Said Soto: “the whole are is going to be redeveloped and if we don’t address it now and you leave it there for a few years then later down the road it’s going to be ‘it’s been there for five years’ and it will be more difficult.”

As you can see below, the Virgin Mary tree stump now has proper protection in the former of a properly built shelter. The area has also been paved with bricks for safety…

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Virgin Mary Tree Stump

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In Passaic, near the corner of Hope & Madison right as it goes under Route 21, drug users frequently would gather and shoot up behind the bushes. Local residents, fed up with the drug user going on out in the open, decided to clear the brush to take away the privacy it afforded the drug users. One teenager chopped down a thick tree and a left the stump and logs there when he was done. A few weeks later someone noticed that the stump resembled the Virgin Mother May. A protective shelter was erected around it and soon Catholics from all around were visited the shrine. People left candles, rosaries, and drawings of the Mother Mary. A fence was eventually erected to keep the crowds from getting too close.

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It does appear to be a figure with sloping shoulders who is crossing his/her arms. But the Virgin Mother? I’ve seen Scooby Doo in cloud formations, it doesn’t mean I was watching cartoon network at the time. The human mind likes to see things in random designs in nature.

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Although I’ve never believed that images of Jesus or the Virgin mary on toast are really, I did notice some interesting things about this particular sighting. 1) this occurred on Hope St. 2) it’s the month of the Holy Rosary in the catholic church. 3) if you walk back on Hope St perhaps 150 feet you can see over the highway and on a building on the other side someone painted the words “read the bible… Jesus is the future king.” This was painted years ago. (in the picture below you can see the building to the right of the sign post…) Coincidence or just another sign? That’s for you to decide…

Catacombs beneath the streets of Newark

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I can’t recall where I read this, but I read somewhere that the only catacombs in the US were located beneath a church in the Portuguese section of Newark, NJ. I made some phone calls and found out this was true and that the church would give a tour if asked. So I asked.

Located at Lafayette & Prospect, the catacombs are beneath the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The church was established in 1927 in what was at the time, a mostly Italian neighborhood. The catacombs were constructed by church members in the late 1950’s, many coming after work to labor in the building. Eventually the neighborhood began to change, and now is primarily Portuguese. According to the woman who gave me the brief tour, there are 3 Italian families who attend the church, even though the service is given in Portuguese and (presumably) they don’t speak the language. I went to the rectory and gave a small contribution in return for the tour. No amount is specifically requested, it’s whatever you feel is appropriate. I gave $20 just because. The entrance to the catacombs are through this door….

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This door is probably the heaviest, most stubborn door I’ve ever encountered. The key would barely turn the lock, and the door as almost rusted into place. We finally got it open (please don’t ask how long it took to subsequently close it) and we entered into… the basement?

When I say catacombs, it probably conjures up images of old monks walking stooped over thru tunnels lined with brick led by dripping torches as rats squeak in the distance. Maybe you think of old bones wrapped carefully and preserved lying in cutouts along the walls of the passageway. Think again. Indiana Jones this wasn’t. It looked much like any other basement in any other building or house. The walls were finished, as were the ceilings and floors, which were as tall and wide as you would expect in any normal basement. Lining the walls were various paintings of saints and other holy things. In short this wasn’t so much a catacombs as a replica of a catacombs. It was interesting, but not at all what I was expecting.

Is it worth the trip? Probably not I’m sad to say.

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The JFK Church of West Orange

In a church in West Orange is a very unusual stained glass window. Our Lady of Lourdes wanted to honor JFK because he was the first catholic president, so they had a stained glass window created which depicted his swearing in. Pictured with him are his wife, Lyndon Johnson & Dwight Eisenhower.

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Mecca

Thru geocaching I came across this Hindu temple in Bridgewater.

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Pure luck had me stumbling across this second Hindu temple in Galloway Twp. There was small offering plate near the statue in the picture and it had food on it.

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Stations of the Cross

A friend of mine attends a small college in northern NJ (which shall remain nameless out of privacy concerns). He knew I was into odd things and one day he told me about something strange he found in the woods on campus. The college bought the property from an old church to use as their campus many years ago. There was a convent on site and a nun graveyard. But what was most interesting is that they had these stone stations of the cross throughout the woods. The paint is peeling and the rock is crumbling in some cases, but they’re still in fairly decent condition.

It’s just weird to find this in the woods of a college like this… so we wandered thru the various stations. He had to explain some of them to me since I’m not Catholic. I’m familiar enough with Catholic dogma and tradition to understand most of it. I mean you see Jesus as he went to his death on the cross, it’s not hard to follow.

See all the photos here

Oddly named businesses

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