Day 566

Former location of the Vatican Pavilion

July 18th, 2013

The Vatican Pavilion was one of the most visited sites at the 1964-65 World's Fair, owing largely to the fact that it housed Michelangelo's Pietà, which had been painstakingly packaged and shipped across the Atlantic from St. Peter's Basilica. The sculpture had never been removed from the Vatican before, and it hasn't left again since. It returned from its journey in good shape, but several years later was attacked at St. Peter's by a mentally disturbed, hammer-wielding, Hungarian-born Australian geologist claiming to be Jesus Christ. Typical.

Another feature of the Vatican Pavilion was the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, much of which — most notably the beautiful stained glass windows — has since been incorporated into Saint Mary Mother of the Redeemer Church in Groton, Connecticut.

In 1975, this monument to the pavilion took on new life when it became home to the shrine of Our Lady of the Roses, serving as a gathering place where Veronica Lueken, a housewife from Bayside, Queens, would be visited by the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and an assortment of saints, relaying the often apocalyptic messages received in her ecstatic visions to her throngs of devotees. The group originally met in Bayside, but moved here to Flushing Meadows after a local civic association sought an injunction to prevent the hordes of worshipers, sometimes numbering in the thousands, from descending on the neighborhood. Lueken died in 1995, and her followers subsequently split, bitterly, into two factions. As far as I can tell, both still hold regular prayer vigils here.

One Comment

  1. Gigi says:

    Interesting! I never knew the Pieta left Rome to grace the World Fair in Queens. Thanks for the links Matt!

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