Students strengthen their faith while cleaning larger-than-life crucifix

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 1:46 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - We all have those hard to clean spots in our homes, places that are just out of reach that we might tackle once a year.

At the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the hard to clean spot is the giant crucifix that hangs behind the altar.

It’s so big and so far off the ground, thee 500-pound piece of art is only cleaned once a year.

This is a project that only happens once a year.

“We have the annual cleaning,” explained Cathedral pastor, Fr. Joshua Ehli.

The crucifix is slowly lowered for a thorough dusting.

“Being a big building with a lot of activity that we do have dust problems,” said Fr. Ehli.

This larger-than-life crucifix a fixture here.

“It is one of those marks from the very first day that has never left the building,” Fr. Ehli added.

It has hung in Cathedral of the Holy Spirit since the church opened in 1945. Cathedral elementary students see it all the time during Mass, but never quite like this.

On this day, they got the rare opportunity to reach out and touch and feel the solid wood crucifix.

“It was beautiful,” said Cathedral fifth grader Brooklynn Barnhardt.

“You can see more of the details,” added her classmate Jaimeson Wilhelm.

Details like Jesus’ teeth, veins, muscles and the piercing in his side.

“You can see just like the pain on his face, it just really communicates his emotion. I’m just so amazed at how it makes the scriptures,” said University of Mary student Hailey Boekelheide.

Boekelheide is one of a handful of University of Mary students in charge of cleaning the crucifix.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

And while it’s important to dust and oil this piece of art, Fr. Joshua Ehli says the day is about more than that.

“It’s about a deeper understanding of Jesus is real,” he explained. “You don’t see him now as they did 2,000 years ago, but He’s real so hopefully that would be one of the fruits of this time for them and draw them a little bit closer.”

An up-close experience with an iconic piece of art he hopes might strengthen these students’ faith.

The crucifix was carved by German artist, William Lang. It’s believed he was a descendent of a famous woodcarving family from Oberammergau, Germany, a town known for it’s live pasion play and woodcarvers.

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