Jessica OrbonAug 17, 2017, 10:13 pmAug 18, 2017, 6:17 am

Removal of decade-old religious shrine in Passaic draws criticism from residents

Mayor of Passaic says the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe was a violation of the separation of church and state

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What was once a religious shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the heart of Passaic County is now just a gray wall, after being removed.

The shrine, which once included a massive mural and a wooden log that a Hispanic teen had claimed to have seen the face of the Virgin Mary in nearly 15 years ago, had become a holy place for Catholics in the community. growing over the years with people bringing flowers, candles and statues.

The shrine's removal has sparked a strong emotional reaction from residents in the area, with much of the backlash focusing on Mayor Hector Lora, who was elected in May. Lora was the first lawmaker to address the issues surrounding the shrine.

Lora said that not only was the shrine a violation of the separation of church and state because it sat on state property, but that a more serious issue was the donation box at the religious site. Lora says that he understands the pain the shrine's removal has caused, but that he did what was right for the community.

The shrine is now in a secure location that has not been released. The group that constructed and maintained the shrine is reportedly still looking to give it a permanent home.

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