Cross in the Woods

Getting off the beaten path on a recent trip north led us to another special attraction. In the unincorporated area known as Indian River we found the Cross in the Woods Shrine.

This wooden cross was made from a 2,000-year-old California Redwood tree. The tree was found in the state of Oregon and the timber from the tree arrived in Roscomon, Michigan in 1953. The cross weighs 14 tons and is 55 feet in height (77 feet above the mound) with the crossbeam 22 feet. The cross was erected August 5, 1954 and the dedication took place August 22 of that year.

Declared a national shrine by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on September 15, 2006, between 275,000 and 325,000 people visit the shrine each year. There are outdoor and indoor churches and smaller shrines throughout the location.

Saint Frances of Assisi

This statute of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus was called “the Holy Family.”

Our Lady of the Highway

A few years after the dedication of the cross, the body of Christ was added. The corpus weights 7 tons. It is 28 feet from head to toe and the arm spread is 23 feet. The body of Christ was attached to the cross on August 9, 1959, and dedicated on August 16 of that year.

There is a large church where masses are held everyday year round. The windows inside are large giving the congregation an excellent view of the cross. There is also outside seating where masses are held outdoors just below the cross.

I found it interesting to learn that the man who designed the Corpus, Marshall M Fredericks resided in Michigan (where I now live) but he was born in Rock Island, Illinois (the area where I used to live). There is a Marshall M. Fredericks Sculptor Museum in Saginaw, Michigan featuring his works as well as other sculptors.

Fredericks said he wanted to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross”. He imagined his sculptor as portraying Christ at the moment when he says, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” The Vatican gave him special permission to omit the crown of thorns and the wound on the side of Jesus.

I know I am being opinionated here, but I found leaving the crown of thorns and the wound on his side as somehow minimizing the whole message of the suffering Jesus endured for us.

We did explore the bookstore also and found many beautiful paintings and tapestries. There were a couple I would have loved to have – but with my husband painting more and more – our home is filled with his paintings with no room for anything else.

Discovering this site now leads us to another road trip – to Saginaw to check out the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculptor Museum.