Of the many crosses used in worship at Christ Church, two of the most beautiful are the elaborately decorated brass processional crosses carried high by acolytes leading the clergy and choir during the opening procession and closing recession in services held in the main sanctuary. The large cross, which leads the procession, was donated “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Helen Louise Lee, 1856 – April 5, 1937”. The smaller but heavier of the two processional crosses was dedicated on All Saints Day 1905 “In Memory of Seventeen Parishioners who died in 1905” (names engraved in script on back). It is presumed that the deaths were caused by the yellow fever plague during its last outbreak in the US in 1905. This cross was restored in 2011 by a bequest from the late parishioner Pauline Bettie Finn Horton. Both crosses are adorned with Easter lilies at Easter, symbolizing the resurrection of Christ and the birth of new life.
The elegant brass cross that dominates the intricately carved wooden niche behind the main altar was given “In Memory of Charlotte E.W. Smith (1867-1930)”. The simple, classic brass cross that temporarily replaced this cross during construction for the new organ was found in a closet by our Head Sexton Chuck Morrell. The inscription reads “Presented by the Rector’s Willing Workers, Easter 1912”. The dedication refers to Rev. Matthew George Thompson who served as the second rector of Christ Church from 1895-1925.
The Chapel Crosses
The contemporary design of the chapel processional cross is a dramatic contrast to the ornately detailed main church processional crosses. The cross is formed by a silver upright section of the cross and the two silver horizontal arms. Mounted in the center of the cross is a half orb of green jade highlighted by four modernistic rays which may represent the sun. It sits on a circle of jade supported by a small silver pedestal mounted on top of a wooden shaft. It was donated “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Vincent McClelland, Lt., U.S.N. by Mrs. James McClelland”.
The altar cross in the chapel reflects the contemporary design and exact shape of the chapel processional cross. The base is a solid light wood highlighted by gold colored metal also used in four rays that somewhat resemble those on the processional cross. The cross was donated “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Elise Stillman Rockefeller by Nancy Stillman Rockefeller”.
In honor of WWI
One of the most imposing crosses on the Christ Church campus is the World War One Wayside Cross in the grass circle just west of the main church. A stone celtic cross installed in 1924, it is a memorial to the 152 Christ Church members “known to the Treasurer” who served our country in the first World War. It was designed by architect and parishioner William Dominick, who also designed the current Christ Church.
Resurrection in the memorial Garden
By far the most dramatic cross on the Christ Church campus is the tall bronze contemporary Resurrection Cross in the center of the Memorial Garden, “Gift of Lydia Stevens in Memory of her husband George Stevens, May 12, 1985”. Both Lydia and George were active members of Christ Church, George serving as warden from 1967-1972 and Lydia from 1981-1985. They are the only couple to both serve as wardens. The spectacular cross was created by well known Connecticut sculptor James Knowles.
Art Historian. Emily Ragsdale
Photography. Joanne Bouknight