By Kelly Wise Valdes
More than half a century after its construction, the Chapel of the Holy Cross continues to be a spiritual landmark setting high atop the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. The views from outside the chapel are breathtaking and the serenity inside is humbling. The chapel is built on two pinnacled rocks more than 250 ft. high and extends outward from a red rock wall representing the solid Rock of Peter in the Bible. The amazing views, especially at sunset, make this chapel a popular tourist destination and spiritual pilgrimage.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was a gift from Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a sculptor, philanthropist and devout Catholic, who believed the Chapel of the Holy Cross to be her greatest artistic achievement and the fulfillment of her life’s mission. While in New York in 1936, Staude observed that a cross could be seen in the newly constructed Empire State Building when viewed from a certain angle. This was her epiphany to build a church. Staude searched for the ideal location during her travels throughout Europe and the United States.
During a trip through Sedona, she was in awe of the beauty of the red rocks and decided the chapel should be built there as “a monument to faith, but a spiritual fortress so charged with God, that it spurs man’s spirit Godward.”
The chapel is a testimony of great architectural achievement. The construction was complicated, requiring skill, ingenuity and commitment. The chapel is an example of modern architecture, with primary focus on the large windows and cross behind an altar. It took more than 18 months to complete and was dedicated in April 1956. Within the year, the chapel achieved national recognition and was featured in Life Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and received a national award for religious structures.
Visitors world-wide have traveled to this destination in Northern Arizona, often expecting to find the chapel as just another charming site but are often surprised to find themselves in awe of the spirituality from this simple building and its location among Sedona’s red rocks.
Visiting the chapel is free and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (except for Thanksgiving, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas.) For more information, visit www.chapeloftheholycross.com.