The Jesus Tree, New Haven
The Damned Story: In 1992, a young woman (who it should be noted was allegedly losing her sight and hearing) was walking in New Haven’s Wooster Square Park when she noticed that a certain sycamore tree that, between its mottled bark and the light from a nearby street light, seemed to contain the image of Jesus Christ on the crucifix.
Of course, like any time the Savior (or his mother) appears in an unusual place (tree, building, pancake, pierogi), it draws a crowd. Hundreds flocked to the park to see the divine vision, including some of the local clergy who were quick to dismiss it as “an optical illusion.” Still, that didn’t deter the faithful from continuing to make regular pilgrimages to Wooster Square, lighting candles, saying prayers and enjoying His holy shade, right up to this day.
Our Damned Experience: Very good friends of ours live right on Greene Street facing the park and were more than happy to show us the tree on cold night in January 2009. Although the street light right next to the tree was out — and thereby allegedly reducing the Jesus apparition — with a little imagination and an open mind, you could see how someone might think it looked like Christ on the crucifix.
Then again, stare long enough at the bark of any tree — especially an old sycamore — and you could probably see Mohammad, Buddha, Odin, Joe Willie Namath or any deity you wanted to.
If You Go: Wooster Square Park and the Jesus tree is located in the block formed by Chapel Street, Wooster Place, Greene Street and Academy Street in New Haven, about a block away from Pepe’s, Sally’s and all the other famous eateries on Wooster Street. The tree is in the southwestern quadrant of the park, not too far from the path and street lights. Sometimes you will find candles and other offerings at its base. Since it is a public park, it’s open year round 24/7 — although it’s not always smart or safe to be wandering around a big city park after dark, divinely designated or not.
Special Note: A shout out to Sal Rizza for taking the pics! Thanks!
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