Catholic believers pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven so that they may pray for us on our behalf. Saints are able to intercede on our behalf and offer up to God the prayers of those on Earth. Patron saints are recognized as the heavenly advocates and special intercessors for many things, even states. If you want to ask for the special intercession on behalf of your state, do you know who to pray to?

The word ‘Connecticut’ is based on the Algonquian word ‘Quinnehtukqut,’ which refers to the Connecticut River. The first Catholic Church was built in 1827 near the Connecticut River. In 1941, Father Emilio Iasiello, pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport, saw a need to accommodate parishioners living in the northern area of Connecticut.

After searching for the ideal location, Iasiello found a plot of land, and with support of the city’s Italian community, a small colonial style chapel was erected and named for St. Margaret. On September 20, 1942, it was dedicated by the bishop of Hartford.

Inspired by the events of World War II, Iasiello’s intent was to establish St. Margaret Chapel as a monument of peace. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, his plans were expanded to add religious statues and chapels where worshippers would offer their prayers for those serving their country and for those who had given their lives.

To fulfill this vision, adjacent properties were purchased, and the land had to be blasted and cleared. In the process, a grotto-like area was created as a perfect spot for a shrine honoring St. Margaret as well as saints from countries around the world, including Italy, Cuba, Mexico, Portugal and Vietnam.

The grounds were landscaped and pools of water were created. The scenery included stone walkways, landscaped hillsides and scenic bridges. Gradually, statues, shrines and chapels were erected, and the St. Margaret Shrine became known as a great refuge of beauty and peace.

Margaret, also known as Margaret of Antioch, is celebrated as a saint on July 20. History tells the story that St. Margaret was martyred in A.D. 304 and is considered the patron saint of expectant mothers. It was believed that St. Margaret promised very powerful indulgences to those who invoked her intercessions, which helped spread her devotion. St. Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and is also thought to be one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc.

The St. Margaret Shrine is considered an oasis of prayer in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For more information, visit www.stmargaretshrine.org.

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Kelly Legg has been writing for the Osprey Observer as a freelance writer for three years, and has recently taken on the role of managing editor for the Christian Voice newspaper. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications. She currently resides in Riverview with her husband and three children.