Ground Zero cross on the move again
Mark Di Ionno, Religion News Service
April 07, 2011

Ground Zero cross on the move again

Ground Zero cross on the move again
Mark Di Ionno, Religion News Service
April 07, 2011


YORK — The Cross

at Ground Zero was one of thousands of I-beams used to construct the iron

skeletons of the World Trade

Center towers. This one fell from

the fiery, apocalyptic heavens during the 9/11 terror attacks and stuck upright

in the ground, in a field of similar but smaller crosses.

The iconic cross rose higher than the others above the

twisted steel, concrete slabs and human remains. When the smoke subsided and

the dust and ashes settled, it emerged as a beacon — a sacred symbol of, at once,

survival and remembrance.

Almost immediately, rescue workers and firefighters

scratched out memorial messages on the 20-foot cross. A shrine was created,

services were held.

It was later blessed and draped with a sheet-metal shroud

from the wreckage, then hoisted atop a concrete stanchion from the destroyed plaza

at the corner of Church and Liberty Streets.

The symbolism was obvious. Church, liberty, religious

freedom — concepts that separate America from its attackers. The cross stayed there

until October 2006, when it was moved for preliminary construction work at the


“It was headed to a warehouse in Long Island, but the firefighters

and construction workers objected, so we offered to put it here,” said Kevin

Madigan, the pastor at nearby St. Peter’s Church, the city’s oldest Catholic

parish and where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American to be canonized,


RNS photo by John Munson/The Star-Ledger

A cross formed from a falling steel I-beam at the former World Trade Center towers was placed outside St. Peter’s Catholic Church in lower Manhattan where Kevin Madigan kept watch over it until its pending move to the National September 11 Memorial &


The cross will soon move again, to the National September 11

Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero.

“The way I understand it, the cross will stand in an apse,

which will be built around it,” Madigan said. “So the cross has to be in place before

construction (of the apse) begins.”

The church will not be without a 9/11 cross for long.

Sculptor Jon Krawczyk is making a replacement, a stainless steel “9/11 Memorial


“It will be highly polished, so people will be able to see themselves

in it and hopefully reflect on their lives, and lives lost in the terror

attack,” Krawczyk said from his studio in Malibu, Calif.

Krawczyk’s 9/11 cross will have three pieces of metal saved

from the World Trade Center debris.

“That metal will be used where Christ’s hands and feet would

have been nailed,” he said. “Those pieces will stand out because they are rusted.”

The vertical beam of the cross will be 14 feet high, and the

horizontal beam will be 11 feet wide. It’s the largest cross Krawczyk has made.

The commission came to Krawczyk after a patron of the

archdiocese agreed to fund a cross in New York.

“She wanted it in any church,” Madigan said, “We knew we

were losing the 9/11 cross, so (retired) Cardinal (Edward) Egan offered it to


Since then, the benefactor decided to withdraw her offer, so

Krawczyk and the gallery that represents his work are raising funds through the

church. Krawczyk will finish the cross in a few weeks, then truck it

cross-country. It will be installed in early May.

“It’s as big an honor as there possibly can be,” Krawczyk

said. “I’m overwhelmed by the significance. To memorialize the sacrifice of the

people and the loss of life in art, well, I’m not sure I can put it into words.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Di Ionno writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark,


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