Not one to get sucked into cardinal-mania downtown, I couldn’t help but admire the homegrown shrine that sprouted on the steps of Cardinal Bernardin’s North State Parkway mansion. Passing it in a car during a gray afternoon, I was cheered by the bright colors of the store-bought frosted glass candles and the single metallic balloon waving wackily in the wind.

That night I walked to the shrine with my young son, and we found ourselves quite literally on our knees, just the two of us, taking in the bounty of gifts left at the cardinal’s door: dozens of lit candles bearing images of Mary and Jesus, some built up with aluminum foil to keep the wind from extinguishing the flame, two tiny antique votives made of silver filigree, bouquets of flowers, mass cards, a bright red candle embossed with a Star of David, a thick black cord hung with a heavy silver cross (to keep werewolves away, my son noted), and a framed note no bigger than a postcard that began “Arrivederci, Cardinal.”

–Anne Moore

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