The Crucified Christ in the Chapel
All that We Have: The Crucifix in the Daily Mass Chapel
Published on March 16-17, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Many generations have prayed before the large and impressive crucifix in the Daily Mass Chapel of Saint Andrew’s ever since it was given to the parish more than a century ago. It first graced the wall to the left of the sanctuary of the white clapboard Church built in 1893 on Chiles Street. When a new Church was built in 1976, it was moved to the center of the sanctuary wall, right behind the free-standing altar. After the present Church was dedicated in 2001, it was placed in the narthex, right by the entrance to the chapel, until it was transferred to its current location in Easter 2012.
The wooden cross was not part of the original crucifix. It was made in 1975 by H. Samuel Carey (1923-1987) with poplar beams salvaged from the 1893 Church after it was torn down. The vertical beam of the cross is eight feet tall; the horizontal beam five feet long.
Close to the bottom of the cross is a brass plate inscribed with the name of the couple who had given this gift to the parish: Joseph (1865-1930) and Mary (Dieter) Keller (1872-1959).
The corpus (the figure of the crucified Christ) on the cross was made with white plaster. It has sustained a number of damages throughout the years including significant fractures on both shoulders. It had undergone at least two restorations. The first was done in 1975 by then parishioner Mary Heise; the second in Lent 2012 by Bettye Brookfield, Professor of Art and the Chair of the Department of Fine Arts of Saint Catharine College. This last restoration was coordinated by William D. Huston (born 1947), President of Saint Catharine College and Vice Chair of the Saint Andrew’s Parish Council. It was made possible by a gift from Patricia Clarke-Keller, the widow of the grandson of the original donors of the crucifix.
The corpus is at least four feet tall. Its sheer size presents a striking portrayal of the horrific death that Christ suffered on the cross. The wound in His right side recalls the lance that was thrust by the centurion into His side (cf. Jn. 19:34). His holy head, surrounded by a crown of piercing thorn, is bowed down, for He had handed over the spirit (cf. Jn. 19:30). Posted above His head is the charge written by Pontius Pilate (cf. Jn. 19:19); it reads ‘INRI,’ the acronym for the inscription that was written in Latin: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). Both the scroll of this inscription and the loincloth that covers the Crucified Lord were repainted to their original white color in the 2012 restoration.
After the restored crucifix was unveiled for veneration on Good Friday 2012, Samuel Carey’s nephew, Bruce Browning (born 1966), and Deacon Richard Abbey (born 1954) secured the back of the crossbar to an iron brace attached to the western wall of the chapel. The brace was built at and donated by the Harrodsburg plant of Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc.