What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

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Connecticut seems an unlikely stand-in for the Holy Land. But a devout Catholic built a re-creation of all things Biblical. But since its closure, this would-be paradise has turned into a land of perdition where tragedy struck at the foot of the giant cross.

Welcome to the Holy Land … in Connecticut

Devout Catholic John Baptist Greco said he received a message from God to build a religious sanctuary in the 1950s. It would be called Holy Land USA.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Jerusalem in Chicken Wire and Concrete

Greco obtained land near Waterbury, Conn., and with the help of volunteers and donated materials — largely chicken wire, concrete and tin — started work on a re-creation of the Biblical story.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Hey Day

For a few decades Holy Land USA was a successful site. During its peak years in the 1960s and ’70s an average of over 40,000 people a year visited the site.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Jesus Redux

Among the sites re-created were the manger in Bethlehem, the city of Jerusalem, the place of crucifixion at Golgotha and Jesus’ tomb.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

The Road to Perdition

Greco died in 1986, leaving the land to the Religious Sisters of Filippi. The park had closed two years earlier for “repairs” but never reopened.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Hopes for a Resurrection

Still on the grounds of Holy Land USA is the statue of ”Our Lady of Revelation,” one of only three statues blessed by Pope John Paul II. Numerous individuals and groups have made unsuccessful attempts to restore the site.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Sisters of Redemption

One of the weirder stories connected to the site involves a would-be papal assassin. In 1947, a man named Bruno Cornacchiola was in Rome to assassinate the pope, when he decided to take his three children on a picnic. Cornacchiola happened upon a grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to him, calling herself the “Virgin of Revelation,” naming him the “new Saint Paul,” and directing him to preach to nonbelievers. She urged him to support the Religious Teachers Filippini, the same order that has run the rundown Holy Land.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Holy No More

In the intervening years, Holy Land has become a magnet for vandals, thieves and gawkers, but that’s not all.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

A Tragic End

Holy Land became a popular location for “unholy” conduct for teens, and on the evening of July 15, 2010, 17-year-old Francisco Cruz came to the ruins with his friend of two years, 16-year-old Chloe Ottman. He told police later he demanded sex and Chloe refused, saying she had a boyfriend. Cruz then raped and strangled the teenager.

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You

Iconic Irony

By Cruz’ own admission, the murder happened at the foot of the giant cross, the one part of the park that has been restored. A new stainless steel cross was erected in 2008. Incidentally, Cruz is Spanish for “cross.”

What Happened in this Creepy Abandoned Holy Land Will Shock You


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