St. Benedict Parish acquires replica of Gero crucifix

North Texas Catholic
(Apr 9, 2018) Local

Bishop Michael Olson and other priests

Bishop Michael Olson blesses a crucifix based on the earliest monumental sculpture of the crucified Christ still in existence. It was installed on Easter at St. Benedict Parish in Fort Worth. Looking on, from left, Father Peter Byrne, FSSP, Monsignor James Hart, and Father Karl Pikus, FSSP. (NTC photo/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH – Three years ago this summer, Bishop Michael Olson established St. Benedict as a personal parish serving Catholics who wished to participate in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

They began celebrating the Latin Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish and moved into their permanent home in the old St. Thomas the Apostle campus by Christmas when St. Thomas’ new church building was dedicated in December 2016.

Already proud of their northwest Fort Worth church, St. Benedict parishioners have a beautiful addition to their place of worship — a replica of the Gero Crucifix.

The altar crucifix featuring a linden wood Jesus corpus was installed on Easter.

Bishop Olson blessed the crucifix on March 21 on the patronal Feast of St. Benedict, founder of the Order of St. Benedict.

The cross is based on the design of the Gero Crucifix. Located in Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the 6-foot-2-inch crucifix is the earliest monumental sculpture of the crucified Christ still in existence and was one of the largest crosses of its time. Made of wood and painted, it was commissioned in 970 by Gero, archbishop of Cologne, for his cathedral.

Two priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter, Father Karl Pikus, FSSP, pastor, and Father Peter Byrne, FSSP, parochial vicar, who have led St. Benedict since its beginning, are delighted with the acquisition of the two-foot-tall cross.

Bishop Michael Olson and other priests

Father Peter Byrne, FSSP, holds the Gero cross after it was blessed by Bishop Michael Olson, far left. The cross was commissioned by Father Karl Pikus, FSSP, at right. Monsignor James Hart stands behind. (NTC photo/Juan Guajardo)

“It’s very timeless,” Fr. Pikus said. “It’s not old and it’s not new. Over the years it has stood the test of time.”

Fr. Pikus saw the historic cross as a Minnesota high school exchange student in Germany in 1981.

The original is carved in oak and painted and partially gilded and has been refurbished. The halo and cross pieces are original, but a baroque surround was added in 1683.

The memory stayed with him, and he decided to commission a smaller version for his Fort Worth parish. The pastor turned to a business located near a past assignment, Weberding’s Carving Shop in Batesville, Ind., which specializes in religious carvings.

The crucifix was a welcome addition to the approximately 250 parishioners at St. Benedict, which is a personal parish, meaning it has no territorial boundaries within a diocese but serves Catholics with particular cultural needs.

“This cross uniquely blends both East and West, Good Friday and Easter, suffering and glory,” Fr. Pikus said.

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