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Custom-built cross completes long-awaited crucifix at Culpeper church

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The most striking feature of Precious Blood Church in Culpeper is a huge stained-glass window in the shape of a cross, set into an arched alcove behind the altar. The images on the stained glass depict Jesus’ Precious Blood — red droplets falling into a golden chalice, from a heart surrounded by a crown of thorns.

The stained glass is beautiful — but because of the church’s architectural constraints, there was no permanent crucifix in the sanctuary.

“The church was not built to have a crucifix in the sanctuary,” said Father Kevin B. Walsh, pastor. A processional cross was always displayed near the altar during Masses, an option allowed under church law. 

But ever since he arrived at Precious Blood five years ago, parishioners had been asking if the church could have a permanent crucifix, Father Walsh said. Before he arrived, the parish was staffed for many years by priests of Missionhurst-CICM, the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Now, after a year of fundraising and many parish meetings, the church is finally getting its crucifix — a nearly life-size crucified Christ.

It will be installed before Ash Wednesday, high on a wall to the left of the sanctuary’s alcove, where it will be visible from anywhere in the church. In that location, Father Walsh said, it won’t obstruct the view of the Precious Blood window or compete with a historic crucifix showing Christ the High Priest. That crucifix, from the previous church, hangs on a side wall. 

The new corpus of the crucified Christ, made from high-quality poured resin, is 46 inches tall by 43 inches wide; it was purchased from UsedChurchItems.com, said church staff member Julie Canavan. But Jesus didn’t come with a cross. 

Parishioner Fred Falgiano, a retired Air Force pilot turned woodworker, volunteered to take on that custom project, calling it an honor. He built the cross out of two pieces of cherry wood, 6 foot 3 inches by 4 feet, the largest the wall space could accommodate. Falgiano chronicled the project on his Flyingwoodshop.com Facebook page.

 The crucifix is “very moving, in my opinion,” said Canavan. Especially arriving now, as the season of Lent begins, “I think it’s going to be a very meaningful addition.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021