BRIDGEPORT — The Saint Margaret Shrine, a peaceful outdoor retreat for the Roman Catholic faithful, will be celebrating its 75th anniversary during its Sunday Mass on October 29.
The Mass, which will begin at 11 am, will be celebrated by Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. This will be followed by a dinner at Oronoque Country Club in Stratford at 1 pm. There is an Italian Mass at 9:30 am.
Opened in 1942, St. Margaret’s Shrine has individual shrines for St. Margaret, St. Padre Pio, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadelupe, Saint Sebastian and Our Lady of LaVang. Mass and sacraments take place in two small chapels: Saint Anthony Chapel and the All Saints Chapel. It’s on Park Avenue, a little north of the Capitol Avenue intersection.
Some of the shrines are more recent; one recalls the children who died in the Sandy Hook massacre. Saint Margaret’s Shrine was built as a place to pray for peace and to remember the young men who were dying in World War II.
There are about 15 Roman Catholic saints named Margaret and the one that the shrine is named after is Saint Margaret of Antioch according to the Rev. Giandomenico Flora, pastor of the chapels there. Also known as Margaret the Virgin, she is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. She is the patron saint of childbirth.
According to legend, St. Margaret of Antioch lived in the second century. She was said to have been the object of the advances of Olibrius, a Roman prefect, and when she refused him, she was imprisoned and cruelly tortured. At one point she was swallowed by Satan who appeared in her cell in the form of a dragon. She managed to escape the dragon by irritating its throat with her crucifix; she’s usually depicted in paintings with a dragon at her feet.
She was then beheaded by the Romans. Her spirit is said to have spoken to Joan of Arc.