Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A church unlike any other

Imagine a church soaring high above the road, jutting out of a 1,000-foot red rock wall. Imagine this church rising 250 feet above the rock mound into which it is built. Now imagine hundreds, even thousands, of people walking a challenging uphill path every day to visit this remarkable symbol of faith.

You have just envisioned the amazing Chapel of theHoly Cross in Sedona, Arizona.

Every time we visit Sedona, and there have been many, we simply must stop to photograph and visit this iconic structure. It’s a place of great beauty and peace that draws people in, sort of like making a pilgrimage to a sacred spot.

The journey to construction of the Chapel was not easy. It was commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude in the 1930s. She first planned to build the church in Budapest, but when that plan was interrupted by World War II, she changed locations and decided to build the church in her native state of Arizona.

The chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land, which required a special permit that Senator Barry Goldwater her obtain. Construction took 18 months; the cost was $300,000. The chapel was completed in 1956.

Built into the famous red rocks of Sedona, the church utilizes this landscape as a backdrop and a precursor to the beauty inside. Once you reach the actual structure and go inside, you’ll have a magnificent view of God’s handiwork through the large forward-looking windows. Front and center is a sculpture of Jesus. Many believers go forward to pray at His feet.

In fact, look for immortalized footprints at the front of the Chapel. If you step into them and look up, you will see Jesus gazing directly at you. It’s a reminder that He is always with us and watching over us.

In addition to visitation by millions annually, actual religious services are held in the chapel several days a week. Check the website for exact types of service and times. Otherwise, the church is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. There is also a gift shop on the lower floor of the Chapel building that is open daily from 9:30 to 4:30.

Parking is limited, so people often have to park on the roadway leading up to the Chapel or along the street below. At times golf carts are there to assist people getting to the Chapel, or cars may drive up the hill and drop people off.  It’s a bit of a challenge especially during popular times, but don’t let that keep you from going all the way up and into the Chapel. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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