by Sarah Eidemiller, Staff Writer
For the past seven years the student chapel didn’t have its own crucifix, but on Sunday, September 12, that changed. A beautiful solid maple cross was blessed and positioned during the 7 p.m. mass, followed by the hymn, “Lift High the Cross.”
“The chapel was first used in 2003, and at that point, we had funds generated for construction, but funds for furnishings were not available and needed to be borrowed,” said Fr. Vincent Zidek, O.S.B., director of Campus Ministry. “We were borrowing a cross from somewhere else all these years. It feels good to have our own.” The piece of art was hand-carved and hand-painted by Toni Baur, a woodcarver from Oberammergau, part of the Bavarian region of Germany, and arrived this summer. The artist connected with Saint Vincent College through meeting visiting monks. The fact that the cross is from Germany makes it unique, since our college’s founder, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. (1809-1887) was a German monk.
“We wanted our cross to be similar to the artwork in our chapel and complement our Mary statue,” Fr. Vincent said. “The blue and gold on Jesus’ garments match Baby Jesus’ cloth on the Mary statue. It also fits the chapel well because the top of the cross is curved, and so are the windows and the ceiling above it. Also, it really shows Christ’s suffering for us. This artist was not hesitant to incorporate the blood and the wounds.”
Fr. Vincent said that he likes the fact that it is close to life-size, and that it’s not any ordinary cross taken from a mold. “All of the reactions we have received are very positive ones,” he said. “The students really love it, too.” Senior Brittany Fidazzo was involved in the ceremonial blessing and says that she really likes how the cross is now a prominent feature in the chapel. After the crucifix was hung, she carried up an arrangement of flowers to place around a candle at the altar.
“I felt honored that Fr. Vincent asked me to participate in this ceremony,” Fidazzo said. “The renovation of the chapel has really made the chapel feel more welcoming and inviting for the mass, and I thought the blessing went really well. The mass was well-attended, too.”
Seniors Jill Krupey and Matthew Kaufman were altar servers during the mass. They said that it was exhilarating to be a part of the ceremony.
“It was an honor for me to assist in the raising of the cross due to the significance of the cross; the message of His saving grace and the power of redemption He has for us all,” Kaufman said.
Krupey said that it was exciting to see the installation of what will be an object of devotion for many years to come. “The song, ‘Lift High the Cross’ was so appropriate to sing right after the cross was hung,” said junior Michael Barkowski, who was another altar server that evening. “Each of us Catholics are called to carry our own cross, and we are not alone,” he said. “Father Vincent and Campus Ministry have really worked together through time, thought and prayer to create a wonderful environment for college students. I was lucky to be involved and to get a glimpse of the time and effort that it all took. It was very touching.”