The Spectacular Crosses of Northern Michigan Mar 19, 2019 21:49:21 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 19, 2019 21:49:21 GMT -5
The Spectacular Crosses of Northern Michigan
On Saturday, March 9, hundreds descended on the small city of Petoskey, Michigan, to see Jesus ... at the bottom of the lake. Few know of the 11-foot crucifix 22 feet below the waters of Lake Michigan, or that it is the only known underwater crucifix in a body of freshwater in the world.
Now, for the first time in several years, a hole has been cut in five feet of ice so that the public can see the spectacular cross. The memorial was commissioned by the family of Gerald Schipinski, a 15-year-old farm boy, who died in a shooting accident May 30, 1956, in Huron County, 150 miles south of Petoskey in what is known as the Thumb of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The teen’s heartbroken parents ordered the sculpture from Italy, paying a hefty $2,500 (the equivalent of almost $25,000 in 2019 dollars). Fortunately, they opted for the insurance at an additional cost of $50, because at some point in its long voyage to the other side of the world, the 1,850-pound cross was broken. The family refused to accept the damaged item and it became the property of the insurance company.
The crucifix was stored behind the catholic church in Rapson until the spring of 1962, when a diving group purchased it at an insurance auction. On August 12, 1962, during a dedication ceremony to a diver who drowned while diving in nearby Torch Lake, the cross was lowered 65 feet to the bottom of Little Traverse Bay. Unfortunately, the memorial was damaged again when the right arm of Christ was broken off and vanished. After several years, as the sediment accumulated at the bottom of Lake Michigan, the crucifix itself disappeared.
Twenty-three years later, in 1985, the missing arm – which had been displayed on the desk of a Detroit photographer and member of the original dive team – was returned. The cross was raised from the depths, repaired and lowered into Lake Michigan again, this time at its present location just 260 feet from shore. The first winter viewing in 1986 was organized by Denny Jessick, president of the Little Traverse Bay Dive Club. In 2015, a record 2,021 people waited in line to see the historic landmark. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until this year that weather conditions permitted another viewing of the crucifix that now honors all who lost their lives on, and beneath the surface of, the Great Lakes.
The Cross in the Woods. The underwater memorial isn’t Michigan’s only noteworthy crucifix. Twenty miles east of Petoskey, in the small town of Indian River, stands a colossal and much better-known symbol of the Christian faith. The Cross in the Woods (above), carved from a single redwood tree, was erected in 1959. Soaring to a height of 55 feet, with a crossbar of 22 feet, it is the largest crucifix in the world. The bronze image of Christ, itself 28 feet in length, was created by renowned Michigan sculptor Marshall Fredericks. Because he was determined to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross,” the sculpture took four years to complete, after which it was cast in bronze at a foundry in Norway. Weighing 7 tons, it was one of the largest castings ever to be shipped across the Atlantic. The sculpture was attached to the cross and dedicated in a formal ceremony on August 16, 1959. Forty-seven years later, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006, the Cross in the Woods was declared a shrine. The magnificent memorial attracts an estimated 300,000 visitors each year.
In addition to the spectacular crucifix, there are five other shrines on the grounds: Our Lady of the Highway, Saint Peregrine, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Saint Francis of Assisi and The Holy Family. There is also a doll museum containing the largest collection of dolls dressed in traditional religious attire in the United States. The inspirational display started as a girl’s hobby. Sally Rogalski began collecting and dressing dolls in traditional nuns’ habits in 1945 and after she married, her husband also became an afficionado. In 1964, the couple donated 230 dolls to the Shrine with one caveat: “that no admission charge ever be asked, so that people, rich and poor alike, would be able to see them.” Over the years, the collection has increased to more than 525 dolls.
Sources: Stephen Kokx, Life Site, March 14, 2019; Anna Hopkins, Fox News, March 11, 2019; Anna Zaniewski, The Detroit Free Press, March 7, 2019; Charlie Hintz, Cult of the Weird, March 5, 2015; "The Cross in the Woods," Atlas Obscura; Spiritual Travels; and The National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods.