In the Alps of Northern Italy, craftsmen painstakingly produce beautiful art with a woodcarving tradition that goes back at least to the Middle Ages.
One of those woodcarver’s works, a nearly 4-feet-tall crucifix, is now in place at the
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis as a testament to the faith of the people of the archdiocese during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dean Stutte of Catholic Supply in St. Louis said the craftsman from Italy who created the crucifix is identified only as Stefan. Made from linden wood — soft, white and without knots — the crucifix is hand-painted using a layered technique that creates the look of being very old, Stutte said.
The new crucifix is now a permanent fixture of the cathedral basilica, a reminder that Jesus’ suffering brought redemption and that the crucifix is a source of protection and strength as people shoulder their own crosses. All are invited to pray privately before the cross.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson blessed the new crucifix April 3 at a prayer service to pray for an end to the pandemic. Msgr. Henry Breier, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, said the blessed crucifix is a reminder “that our sufferings are united to the sufferings of Christ and that through the cross, we will be healed in body and soul and find hope in the resurrection. As we lift up this cross in prayer, we pray all people will be drawn to it in hope and consolation.”
The handmade crucifix probably took four to six weeks to make, Stutte said.
It was an honor to supply the crucifix, he added. He watched the April 3 private ceremony, livestreamed on the cathedral basilica’s website, which included the blessing of the crucifix, a reflection from Archbishop Carlson and private prayer in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. An apostolic blessing was conferred upon all who participated in the ceremony (through viewing it online) and all who suffer physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually from the epidemic as well as those who care for the sick at this time.
A holy card with an image of the crucifix and prayer is available at the cathedral basilica and can be downloaded at bit.ly/2LXJor5.