LaCroix Cross gets new home at old church

Saturday, April 11, 2009
Jim Boyd, left, checks a level while settling the Cape LaCroix Cross into its new spot at Old St. Vincent's Church Friday morning in Cape Girar­deau. The 12,000-pound concrete cross had been along North Kingshighway since 1947. (KIT DOYLE)

The Good Friday relocation of the Cape LaCroix Cross brought the landmark to what church members hope will be its final home at Old St. Vincent's Church.

A crew from Boulder Construction Co., a division of the Rhodes Group, finished moving the concrete cross from its original location on North Kingshighway on Friday morning. The cross now resides at the southeast corner of the church property at the intersection of William and Main streets.

The Rhodes Group, which purchased the property where the cross formerly stood last month from Dr. Christopher Jung, paid for the relocation of the monument.

"It should be there forever," said Rhodes Group spokesman Scott Rhodes regarding the cross and its new home.

Rhodes said his company has no immediate plans for the North Kingshighway property but felt it would be best to find a new location for the cross, since the property will eventually be developed.

A concrete cross that has stood since 1947 adjacent to 1634 N. Kingshighway is moved along William Street Friday morning. It's new location is the corner of William and Main streets at Old St. Vincent's Church. (FRED LYNCH)

"We believed in preserving the cross," Rhodes said. When members of Old St. Vincent's Church expressed a desire to accept the cross, he said, arrangements for the relocation moved quickly.

Old St. Vincent's member Ron Kirby said locating the cross near the river would allow more tourists to see it compared to the North Kingshighway venue.

Ed O'Howell of Boulder Construction said work on the relocation started last Monday with excavation around the cross. The digging uncovered a massive 8-foot-long concrete base, most of which was sawed off and left in the ground.

On Friday, the 12,000-pound cross was hoisted by a 30-ton crane onto a 40-foot flatbed trailer for the two-hour trip south on Kingshighway and then east on William Street to the church property.

The cross was originally erected in 1947 to commemorate the visit of three French missionaries in 1699. According to the inscription on the cross, the priests prayed "that this might be the beginning of Christianity among the Indians."

Jim Boyd, rights, steers the Cape LaCroix Creek cross into its new position at Old St. Vincent's Church on the corner or Main and William streets Friday morning, April 10, 2009, in Cape Girardeau. The 12,000 pound concrete cross had been along North Kingshighway since 1947. (KIT DOYLE)

Kirby believes something should be done to acknowledge the relocation of the monument.

"It would be my idea to have another plaque on it to indicate when it was moved," Kirby said.

The Cape LaCroix Cross became the focus of controversy in 1995 when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation asked that the cross be removed from what was then public property, saying it violated the U. S. Constitution's guarantee of separation of church and state. The 9-foot-square plot where the cross resided was on right of way owned by Missouri Department of Transportation.

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