Our Lady of Hartford Shrine

Our Lady of Hartford Shrine

May 29, 2010

srinWhat is wrong with people? I mean, seriously. The true story of this thing is so absurd it just blows my mind that people buy into this stuff. I have known about Our Lady of Hartford – because the Virgin Mary has an affinity for Colt Meadows – for quite some time now, as this shrine dates back 11 years to 1999. I’m not going to write much of this page, as others have done a far better and more thorough job than I have the patience for, so here are my quick thoughts.

After checking out a Friends of Vintage Base Ball game down in Coltsville (National Historic Landmark!) and poking around Armsmear and Samuel Colt’s statue and all that good, historical stuff, I decided to circumnavigate the park to see the shrine. The mere fact that it still exists is a bit of a miracle, as the city once tried to get rid of the thing. That’s not to say it’s the least bit nice though – it’s not. It’s rubbish.

Some food vendors looked at me as I kicked up the dust around the three-pronged shrine across from the Hartford Courant. I was all alone among the fake flowers and bargain basement shrinery. I looked up into the black locust tree where the deluded said Mary appears in flowing robes with wings and she flies and glows and wears a crown and makes the tree shake and all sorts of stuff like that.

Back then a guy named Juan Ramon Gordils was apparently bored in the middle of the night and made up this whole story about how he had a vision and then he went to this spot and saw Mary up in the tree. Racoon, Virgin Mary, Leprechaun in Alabama, eh, who can tell.

shrineDespite the fact this guy was a crackpot who had been in trouble with the city before for lying about some insurance claim, the faithful got wind of Mary’s new hangout and started to congregate. In DROVES, which is the craziest part. One woman interviewed by the Courant at the time said, “It’s a symbol of God being here, of good things coming. Of good luck to the world.” Shortly thereafter, George Bush was selected president, 9/11 happened, we started war with Iraq on false information and then our economy suffered the worst collapse since the Great Depression. Not to mention Hurricane Katrina, that Tsunami in South Asia, the Haitian earthquake, on and on.

But yeah, some crazy dude “saw” Mary in a tree in Hartford, CT.

I urge anyone reading this page to read the full report from the New England Skeptics Society. It’s is thorough, informative and very interesting. I feel compelled to grab a blurb from them though, just because it’s so telling when it comes to this stuff:

To their credit, the Catholic church has a long and detailed process that a claimant must go through before they will give their stamp of approval on any paranormal phenomenon. Gordils’ site happens to fall in the parish of the Rev. Michael Galasso, pastor of St. Peter’s Church on Main Street. The 54 year old priest was suspicious of Gordils from the first time he met him. In an interview with the NESS, Rev. Galasso revealed many troubling things about the alleged visionary.

Gordils had made the claim repeatedly that a chapel used to stand some 50 years ago on the site where the locust tree now stands.
“Ridiculous. Of course not. That land used to be owned by the Colt family and they had an extensive dyke system installed there to supply their large garden with water. St. Peters has been here a 140 years, and was the only chapel in the area at that time,” reports Galasso.

Rev Galasso also informed the NESS that the exact same claim, a phantom chapel, was made by Gordils at the time of his Meriden vision in `92. He claimed that a half century earlier a chapel had stood in what was then his backyard. Such claims are so easily checked by a simple glance at the town land records, one wonders what Gordils could be thinking when he makes such obviously false statements. Perhaps he’s thinking that many of the pilgrims he draws to his alleged sightings will not bother to look at land records, being too preoccupied straining to see his visions.

shrinFurther, the Reverend told the NESS that Gordils had been telling people that he had given him $1000.00 to come to the site and bless it.
“He did no such thing, but when you’re asking people for money, they’re going to start asking you what you’re doing with it,” said Galasso. Gordils had been requesting donations to rebuild the phantom chapel on the spot. In a previous interview with the Hartford Courant Galasso said the following:

“I’m just afraid a lot of good people will be hurt by this. Everybody’s got an angle. Now he wants to build a church there and he’ll be asking people for money.”

The priest said he declined Gordils’ invitation to visit the alleged apparition site because “my presence would only lend credence to his claims.”(Renner, 1999) It is interesting to note here, that when a reporter from the paper asked the simple question of the pilgrims as to how people could know whether or not the claim was a hoax he was met with hostility and told that it was Satan who was asking that question.

Ah yes, Satan.

Here’s some more:

The NESS Report
Hartford Courant article about the shrine

7 responses to “Our Lady of Hartford Shrine”

  1. Kerri says:

    When the shrine first popped up in 1999, there were regularly lots of people there. I remember going (I’m not Catholic, so for what reason, I don’t know) within months of its creation and it had a noticeably different vibe then. Maybe it’s just me, but now it seems like nothing more than an overblown roadside shrine to a car crash victim.

    But I like it. Not for any religious reasons, but because of the amount of colorful, gaudy, tackiness all in one spot.

  2. Steve says:

    Kerri – I’ll give you that final point. Because really, why else would I make a page for it here? Well, that and to point out the fleeting nature of supposed miracles – which sort of makes a wholly different point.

  3. Thomas says:

    This is a very well written article. I wonder why you have waited so long to debunk the site.

  4. Ashley says:

    My father works across the street from the “shrine.” The backstory is that the guy who started it had a vision one night of a four-digit number and God told him to go out and find it. He found his way to Hartford and drove around the city day and night until he found the number…engraved on the manhole cover across from the Jesus Tree. It’s always sounded legit to me.

    These days, it’s mostly just a hangout spot for elderly men playing cards.

  5. CPM says:

    I can tell you this, real or not, i brought a friend of mine there at a time when times where hard for her. Her brother was feared missing and murdered. This guy Juan Ramon Gordils took a look at my friend and went into a trance. His head filled with pain and had to sit down as his face teared filled up with tears. He looked at my friend and told her the Virgin Mary was speaking to him, things were bad with her brother, something bad happened to him and it involved 4 people. He told her through the Virgin Mary details of the crime and described what happen to him and that his body will never be found. Years later all that he told us came true right down to the details he gave us. He had no prior knowledge about my friends brother. As for myself at another time i stood before him , he looked at me and told me that in the coming month i would find out i was pregnant. Guess what ? A month later i was !

  6. jade says:

    I’m here reading and searching for this article 11 years later because i question my insanity every day. I was there at colt park in 1999. I am Buddhist, I came there with my best friend and her family (they were Catholic). I knew what i saw and I realized that no one will believe me, but that camera man that was standing next to me, that captured what i have seen. I DID NOT see virgin mary on the tree, as everyone was looking at. I stood around looking at hundreds/thousands of people praying and pointing at the tree which stood in front of me. I had no interest, and walked away looking at the blue sky, taking a step back looking at the camera man that stood beside me. As he was recording everything thats going on, i suddenly spotted something from his camera. THe SUN. there was a shadow figure, and an open door and stairs. I looked away from the camera up into the sun with my naked eyes and couldn’t see anything but as soon as i looked back into the camera i saw it. It moved. and disappeared. I wish i can find that camera guy and most importantly the images that was captured on camera. On a different occasion, a few days after. I went there again and saw jesus on the bark of the tree. I searched online and saw that im not the only one BUT the most phenomenal event that happened, was when i walked down on to the hills of grasses where few were at, sitting and waiting for my friend. I saw what i would never forget. The angels, there were animals, flying across the blue sky in cloud formations, cross by and disappear within secs. I screamed and a few people 20 feet from me did so too.. I know this sounds crazy and no one would believe me but i did, i did indeed saw what i saw. I want to meet this Gordils person.

  7. Frances mcloughlin says:

    I lived in Hartford, the first time someone told me the story about our lady I believed them and said to them our lady wants a church built on the same grounds where the angels are now and the tree with the form of angel wings,because she does not want the elderly to have to walk such a long distance to church,she worries about theyre well being and safety because thy are so delicate just like the wings on the tree. our lady would love that church to be built and she would like all the shrine to be put in the church for safety and to leve the bark of the tree as it is and not to touch the angel wings of the tree,to leave it alone someday if that church is built somebody will enter and say a prayer,they will see our lady and they will be able to tell the story and she will give them a message for the world and the elderly, she just wants a small church there because it is on holy ground. FRANCES ANN MCLOUGHLIN

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