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Haunted Churches: A Halloween Review
If there is one place you would think you would be safe from things that go bump in the night, it would be your local house of worship. But as the following examples show, that may not always be the case. Why would an earthbound spirit hang around a church, you wonder? Well, that I cannot say. But I can tell you these tales where the supernatural meets the spiritual are guaranteed to make the hair prick up on the back of your neck. So gather 'round the campfire, kiddies, and get ready to for a ghost story or two!
Borley Church & Rectory
The Borley Rectory, a Victorian style mansion in the village of Borley, Essex, England, was constructed in 1862 on the grounds of Borley Church. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1939 and torn down completely in 1944. Beginning as early as 1863, there were numerous reports of various supernatural occurrences and sightings.
Noted paranormal investigator Harry Price described it as "The Most Haunted House in England" and wrote two books on the subject. During a year in which Price rented the rectory, he brought in almost 50 observers to record any unusual phenomena. He even had a seance conducted during which two spirits were said to have been contacted. In fairness to the non-believers out there, however, I must point out that he eventually was accused of faking many of the occurrences.
The initial response to his findings prompted the Society for Psychical Research to conduct their own investigation during which many of Price's reports were said to be discredited though some members of the Society disagreed and defended Price's work. And even beyond what Price documented, the house has been sited by many residents and visitors as being haunted, leaving one to ask, could all these witnesses be wrong?
Skull Point Church
You almost have to wonder if it was not inevitable that a church in a place with a creepy name like skull point would end up haunted. Skull Point, located in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, West Indies, is a small community where an ancient courthouse is a national monument. But ghost hunters will find little of interest at that historic spot and will instead be drawn to the abandoned church and cemetery.
Local legend has it that a slave name James Knight became a Christian and began preaching to the other slaves in the area. Upset by his brazenness, the slave owner had Knight killed. The killers then displayed his head impaled on a stake to deter any other slaves from following in Knight's footsteps. After dying in such a violent manner and being refused the sanctity of a proper grave, it is said that the ghost of the slave-turned-preacher still roams the land.
Most Holy Trinity Church
The current building that houses The Most Holy Trinity Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, was built between 1882 and 1885. A school on the church grounds was built in 1887 on what was once a cemetery. Some say not all of the bodies were removed and the spirits of those who remain haunt the school. The lights in gymnasium are known to go off and on for no reason and footsteps as well as ghostly voices are often heard in deserted hallways at night.
The church's second pastor, Monsignor Michael May, died in his room in the rectory in 1895. The room is now used as a guest room because no one is willing to make it a permanent residence. Guests have complained of voices in the night as well as mysterious footsteps.
In August of 1897, George Stelz, a parish sexton and bell ringer, was murdered in the church's vestibule. The murderer was never caught though the prime suspect was later convicted of a different murder. The blood of the victim, as well as a bloody hand-print left by the murderer, are rumored to be still on the wall in a stairway leading to the bell tower. Occasionally the church bells will ring for no reason. Perhaps Mr. Stelz is feeling restless?
The church has gloomy sub-basements and bricked up doorways and is rumored to have secret passageways that only the priests can enter. There is also a staircase where loud footsteps are sometimes heard when no is on the stairway. Also, a large number of people have alledgedly dies while praying at the church and are said to now roam the halls.
Bishop Auckland Church
In this case, the spirits that seem to be haunting Bishop Auckland Church may be upset that the church built in 1914 has been converted into a community center. Since the refurbishing in 2002, video cameras have captured a ghostly woman's figure as well as mysterious lights. Staff at the center have felt supernatural presences and heard footsteps in empty rooms. Doors close themselves and lock themselves from inside. Everyone agrees the spirits seem to be benign, but only became active after the church's conversion.
St. Louis Cathedral Basilica
Many consider the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica to be the most haunted building in New Orleans, a respectable reputation for haunting in a city so steeped in mystery and voodoo. There have been four churches on this particular piece of land with the first being built in 1718. The current house of worship was built in 1850 when renovations on the church there previously caused the central tower to collapse resulting in the entire cathedral being redone. The cathedral was upgraded to a basilica in 1964.
Throughout the history of the churches that stood in this place, there have been disturbing events. The bodies of six rebel leaders were left to rot in front of the church until being buried in unmarked graves by a defiant priest. Following this, a new priest was brought in who attempted to bring the infamous Holy Inquisition to New Orleans before seeing the error of his ways. Marie Laveau, a well known voodoo practitioner who was also a devout Catholic, was a parishioner in the church. Another notorious parishioner was Delphine Macarty LaLaurie whose evil abuse, torture and mutilation of slaves was discovered after a fire in her home. Both of these women are buried on the church grounds.
These spirits as well as others are said to haunt the church even now. Manifestations have been witnessed by many though no paranormal investigation has been done. Disembodied singing, mysterious lights, ghostly figures, apparitions praying... however the spirits choose to make themselves known, this church is a hotbed of activity and clear proof that something awaits on the other side...