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The awe-inspiring church built into the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona


Sheila Sund | CC BY-NC 2.0

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/15/18

The woman who commissioned the Chapel of the Holy Cross was inspired by the Empire State Building.

Voted one of the “Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona,” the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic church, seems to cling precariously to the red rocks of the Sedona, Arizona, desert.

The unique church was commissioned by artist and rancher Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had been inspired by the Empire State Building. A devout Catholic, Staude had an epiphany while staring up at the newly constructed New York skyscraper.

According to an article in Gateway to Sedona, she saw a cross super-imposed on the building and thought “What an idea for a church!”

Staude’s idea was to build something modern, that could speak to people in their time.

“God can be worshipped as a contemporary–bringing him closer to earth and every one of us,” she said.

Her initial idea was to build a skyscraper that would fill a city block was not approved by the archbishop of Los Angeles, where she lived at the time. A plan to build the church overlooking the Danube River was scuttled with the start of World War II. In the end, she settled on the chapel nestled into the red rocks of Sedona.

Upon her death, Staude left the chapel to the Catholic Church, which welcomes people of all denominations and today holds a prayer service there every Monday at 5 p.m.

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