The Cross In The Woods, Kateri Tekakwitha and the Dolls

Years  ago, one of my godchildren became interested in "all things Indian,"  American Indian, that is.   I have always taken being a godparent seriously and so my godchildren usually receive "Catholic" gifts to help them develop a love for their Faith.  One day I found the little Father Lavosik book on the little Indian saint, Kateri Tekakwitha
which according to Wikipedia is pronounced, 'gaderi dega' gwita in Mohawk. Blessed Kateri
Is scheduled to be canonized a saint in October of this year by Pope Benedict.  Anyway, I read the story and was so impressed by her life.  I was "hooked" on little "saint."   I gave my godchild a copy of the book.   Soon afterwards I made a Kateri Tekakwitha doll for my godchild.  And then I made more.  I donated the dolls to our church craft sale.  They sold well.  They were made from plastic Indian maiden dolls that I found at Jo-Ann's Fabric store.  I used faux suede to make her outfit and I beaded a designs on her clothes and shoes.  I made her a beaded necklace with a metal cross and a beaded headband with a feather.  No two were alike.  Sadly I don't have a photo of them to show you.  I know I took one, but I may not have had the film developed or perhaps the pictures didn't turn out.  Whatever happened, I don't have these pictures anymore.

There are two feast days for Kateri Tekakwitha.  In Canada her feast is celebrated on April 17th.  In the United States her feast day is July 14th.

A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to visit the Shrine of the Cross In The Woods

in Indian River, Michigan.  The idea of the shrine came from Fr. Charles D. Brophy sometime in the late 1940's.  He was new in the parish which was originally named for St. Augustine.  Seeing the landscape in Indian River made Fr. Brophy think of the story of Kateri Tekakwitha.  A new church was going to be built, but because our little saint was not yet cananized, the parish could not be renamed for her.  However that didn't mean she couldn't be honored here.  Fr. Brophy envisioned a place to have an outdoor mass during the summer months.  That would require a crucifix.   Sculptor Marshall Fredericks was employed to create a design for the corpus of Christ.   A bronze replica of this Christ corpus was made by the  Kristians-Kunst Metalstobori Foundry in Oslo, Norway.
It weighs seven tons!  It was shipped to the United States and put on a flatbed truck.  You can imagine the awe it inspired as it traveled the highways and stopped in towns along its route to Indian River. 

The bronze Christ was attached to a cross made from giant redwood beams.  It was placed on a hill.  There are 28 steps

leading up the cross which are representative of the famous Scala Santa in Rome reminding us of the 28 steps that Jesus climbed leading to the throne of Pontius Pilate.
There is a Plenary Indulgence attached to climbing the Holy Stairs in Rome while meditating on the Passion of Christ.  I believe it applies to these steps also.  Knowing that I need all spiritual help I can get, my sister agreed that we should do this.  It wasn't easy!  My knees were hurting after the first few steps.  Ever try to climb up cement steps on your knees?  Well, it was a wonderful experience in spite of it all and my knees didn't bother me for too long afterwards.

The Shrine of the Cross in the Woods has so much to offer.   As you first get to the shrine you can light holy candles to your favorite saint.  It's a bit odd though as you pay a donation and then touch the candle.  It is electric.  I didn't take a picture.  I felt leary.  I had never seen electric holy candles.  Oh, well.  Near the outdoor chapel of the Cross, there is a Shrine of Saint Francis.
You might see a bat or two in the church eaves.

There is a shrine in honor of the holy family which I regret that I did  not get photos of.   And the most incredible doll museum!

I apologize that I did not get the names of the different religous orders when I took photos.  I guess I wasn't thinking.  It would have been so nice to know.

I can't think of a better use for a Ken doll!

 You can find out more about The Shrine of the Cross in the Woods and see even more great pictures


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