Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
October 9, 2023 // Diocese

Crucifix Initiative Brings Crosses from Different Continents

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

The crucifix is a symbol of the immense sacrifice Jesus made for humanity – a sign of atonement for the sins of the world. The event it symbolizes gives meaning and purpose to our lives, and it gives us hope in the midst of the challenges, difficulties, and sufferings that we encounter. 

A collaboration effort between the University of Notre Dame and The History Museum in South Bend brings selected works of the Crucifix Initiative to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. This unique exhibit, with crosses from different continents, is on display at The History Museum in South Bend from now until January 21, 2024.

“Since I am a German professor, I have long been familiar with distinctive, hand-carved southern German crucifixes, and in my travels and research, [I have] learned over time what a rich array of crucifixes exists in the world,” Mark Roche, Founder of the University of Notre Dame’s Crucifix Initiative and the Reverend Edmund P. Joyce, CSC, Professor of German Language and Literature, told Today’s Catholic. He added: “I then developed the idea of the Crucifix Initiative, which seeks to bring three priorities into contact with our core Catholic identity and mission: above all, the elevation of the arts and the increasing internationalism and diversity of the university, but also over time the emphasis on student research and creative work.” This year, a competition for student-created crucifixes is underway.

“Road Cross (Cruz del camino)” by Pedro González Paucar. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Roche said he wrote the rationale for the project and then brought together a team of colleagues who had obtained and worked with others to gather crucifixes from around the world along with materials to accompany the collection for public viewing.

“Angolan Crucifix” by an unknown artist.

Representations of the crucifix on display at the History Museum include:

• A brightly colored “Road Cross” from Huancayo, Peru, which is designed to protect travelers on their journeys and is adorned with symbols that include a rooster, a ladder, the sun and the moon, along with the face of Christ.

• A simple and slender wooden crucifix, crafted by local artists in the port city of Luanda, Angola, which brings together Central African and European artistic genres.

• A contemporary Chinese painting, “Crucifixion on the Red Cross,” which was donated by renowned artist Dao Zi and features bold colors, sweeping lines, and exaggerated proportions of the holy nails.

“Life-Giving Cross I” by Ukraine. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

• A detailed pearwood carving titled “Life-Giving Cross,” which includes images of Mary and John alongside Jesus that follows the Ukrainian Greek Catholic tradition of Father Yuvenaly Mokrytsky, a hieromonk whose religious order was brutally suppressed by the Soviet Union.

• A cross designed by Theresa Ardler, who is a Gweagal Aboriginal woman of the Eora region in Australia.

“Aboriginal Cross II” by Theresa Ardler. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

According to Brian Harding, the History Museum’s Executive Director: “It is indeed a privilege to partner with the University of Notre Dame and Notre Dame International on an exhibit of this stature. The university’s global connections are highly respected and extraordinarily diverse. These reflect our museum’s mission to tell the stories of not only our community but the ways in which we welcome and reach out to the world.”

How to Visit:

Tickets to the History Museum are $11 for adults,
$9.50 for seniors (60 and older), $7 for children between the ages of 6 and 17, and free for members.

For more information, including hours of operation, visit or call 574-235-9664.

To learn more about the Crucifix Initiative, visit

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