Charles Grestl


Image of Christ the King Shrine.


Charles Grestl (Charlie to his friends) born in Utica NY in 1886 and married Lena Neyenhousein 1907. Mr. Grestl worked in the knitting mills of Utica on Broad St, retiring in 1954. Though they had no children of their own, they shared their lives with the young people including the local boy scouts and the youngsters from St. John’s Orphanage in Utica. The kids called them “Aunt Lena and Uncle Chaarlie”.

In April of 1947, Lena lay dying of cancer in St.Elizabeth’s hospital. On April 30, following her radium treatments, he went back to his job as a foreman, and was suddenly compelled to leave the factory, and ended up at Flanagan Rd site, where Mr. Grestl was stopped “by boulders, stumps of trees, and old barbed wire”. Then there was a voice. When he turned, Grestl said he saw Jesus. Jesus appeared to Charles Grestl on this site, and the appearances continued no less than 12 times.

In one of Mr. Grestl’s apparitions, Jesus appeared on a bench carving beautiful angels out of wood. Jesus asked that his requests be made throughout the world. At the third vision, he requested that a medal be struck containing Christ himself with a laborer, and to have a scapular made with the same picture on it, and also pamphlets printed with the same picture for worldwide distribution.

Mr. Grestl described in testimony both written and tape recorded to James Donovan, then State Senator, the Most Reverend Bishop Walter A Forey, Bishop of Syracuse, and the late Francis Cardinal Spellman. In 1961 he discussed the apparitions in a letter to the late Pope John XXII.

Two Years later, when being treated for cancer himself, he was visited by an appearance of the Blessed Mother, she requested the shrine to be called Christ the King, and the rosary be recited there at all devotions. He never saw the completion of the Shrine as he died in 1972 at the age of 86. The site was blessed by Msgr Joseph May and thereby became Holy Ground on June 14, 1971. The property was acquired in 1973.

Learn more about these events [here], [here] and [here].