Editor’s note, November 16, 2023: This is a rapidly developing story. LifeSiteNews is following this story closely and will publish updates as they are confirmed.
TORONTO (LifeSiteNews) — A Marian shrine in Toronto scheduled for demolition has been granted Canadian Heritage status.
On November 8, the Toronto City Council adopted the Toronto Preservation Board’s update of the Assessment Listing which designates the Marian Shrine of Gratitude a heritage property, preventing its destruction.
“This is a sacred ground,” Angela Carboni, the founder and director of the St. Bernadette’s Family Resource Center, a charity that has worked at the shrine, told LifeSiteNews today.
“I feel this is God’s way of reaching out to the people who don’t know Him to say, ‘I’m here for you in a difficult time,'” she continued, recounting stories of healings at the shrine.
Under the new designation, construction or demolition on the property must be managed by the Planning Department of the City of Toronto in consultation with the Heritage Registry and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
The heritage status covers buildings on the property such the mansion, church and school, soccer fields, and the shrine.
The shrine has been threatened with destruction since this summer. In response, faithful Catholics appealed to save the shrine, explaining that it has become a place of peace and prayer within the busy city of Toronto. The shrine itself remains closed, and statues and other religious imagery have been removed. Nevertheless faithful Catholics continue to visit and pray outside the fenced area.
“People in Toronto are fighting, and they’re praying,” she continued. “And I’m so proud of them because this is not a monetary gift; this is heaven in the city.”
Local politicians turned to social media to call for the shrine’s perservation.
In August MPP Tom Rakocevic wrote on Facebook, “I’m shocked and dismayed to see worshippers being tearfully ejected from Marian’s Shrine of Gratitude today. For years people have come to this special place seeking hope, peace and a connection to their faith.”
He filed a separate petition with the government, seeking to designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act to be recognized as a property of “provincial significance” in addition to the City of Toronto.
Similarly, Toronto City Councillor Anthony Perruzza denounced the decision in August, writing, “It is shocking and shameful that the owners here would close the Marian Shrine of Gratitude – a community venue, that has been built by the community and is a place for spiritual reflection.”
A petition started in August to save the shrine has reached over 20,000 signatures expressing support for preserving the Marian Shrine of Gratitude.