Update to the Shrine of Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Some of you may recall the Shrine of Sts. Cosmas and Damian out in Apollo, PA that I visited back in June and posted about at the end of July. The shrine was sold to the local Baptist congregation several years ago, and much of the history regarding the shrine has been difficult to find. Really, most of my original post was about how confused I was to show up to this locked shrine with a Baptist sign out front, and then a call to the Catholic church across the street revealing that some parishioners didn’t realize it even was a shrine.
Thanks to a commenter on my Flickr stream and an antique bookseller, I’m happy to announce that I now have a picture of the interior and some more information regarding the apparitions that spurred the construction of the shrine. I’ve included the new information below; you can also read the new info in the context of the original post here, or start at the beginning.
Since posting this, I’ve gotten some help from a person who lives in Apollo, PA and sometimes attends the church, and another who is an antique bookseller. Before I jump into what other pieces of the story I have collected, kiskiPlanter on Flickr graciously took this photo of the interior of the shrine (now used as a Baptist church) and posted it for me to share with all of you. It looks gorgeous inside, and I hope I have the chance to visit Apollo, PA again so I can see it myself.
History-wise, it turns out there’s an entire book devoted to the apparitions that appeared to Peter Sabatelli. The bookseller who commented below linked to a catalogue which talks about the book; you can see a similar version of the summary here. If the book wasn’t $125, I’d buy it, since it sounds fascinating.
According to these summaries, Peter Sabatelli started having apparitions of St. Cosmas in March 1935. They would come in the middle of the night while Sabatelli was asleep, in the form of six girls and a man dressed in white. This happened 14 times, with the visions delivering predictions to Sabatelli about future events, all of which came to pass. Some of those events were a local flood, America’s entrance into World War II, and the death of the Pope. Sabatelli found roadblocks in his attempts to get the news out; a local paper required such news to be broadcast on radio before being put into print. Finally, a priest agreed to hear about Sabatelli’s visions and report any significant predictions to the local bishop.
Despite his perfect record, Sabatelli found his visions to be met with lackluster enthusiasm. His last visit from St. Cosmas asked for a shrine to be built in Sabatelli’s home, with Sabatelli being told he could not leave after erecting the shrine. The home shrine was lit by neon lights in three different colors and reportedly beautiful by those who saw it. As news of the shrine spread, Sabatelli’s residence was soon overrun with pilgrims, prompting him to move onto a larger piece of land and building the shrine discussed in this post. The cost was $160,000, mostly raised through the sale of pamphlets, as Sabatelli was an Italian immigrant with a modest career as a grocer. The shrine was eventually turned over to the Catholic diocese, and then sold to the local Baptist congregation.