Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vision by Artist Inspired Purcellville Cross

The following excerpt and photograph is from The Washington Post regarding Tomás José Fernández, an artist who said he had a vision from Our Lord about creating a cross which now stands in Purcellville, VA.

Artist says vision inspired Purcellville cross

By Eugene Scheel

The Washington Post - The Piedmont's most visible celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, "Crux Gloria," stands aside Route 7, the Harry Byrd Highway in Purcellville. Tomás José Fernández sculpted the 33-foot-high steel "Glorious Cross" in 1990. Within the cross is the shape of Jesus; it almost appears to have been cut out by scissors. The ethereal body frames trees, the Blue Ridge and the sky.

By dusk, the outline of Jesus is delicately lighted. At dawn, the glow is extinguished.

Recently, I asked Fernández, 55, about the history of "Crux Gloria." In a letter, he wrote: "In 1988, I was awakened from a sound sleep when an overwhelming presence of light came into my room. Immediately, I was aware that it was the Lord. I acknowledged His presence by saying, 'Oh Lord, it's you. . . .'

"He began to show me something within this ray of light that had entered my room. Then He asked me to make a special cross, for he explained, 'My Cross is a Cross of Light. Get up and draw it down.' I complied instantly, and, as I did, I felt God withdraw."

Fernández awoke at first light and translated the vision, first to a drawing and then to a three-foot-high steel model. A few months later, at his church, the small 1921 brick St. Francis de Sales Church on Main Street in Purcellville, he showed the model to parishioners and said, "Let's put the cross up before we put the building up," referring to a new church being planned.

Fernández said any resistance to the project ended when, while he was still talking and looking at the model, he noticed his audience looking the other way. Late afternoon sunlight, streaming through a window, had projected a shadow of the cut-out Jesus on the wall.

Ted Welti, a Leesburg structural engineer, computed engineering specifications, and Fernández bought the steel at the old Union Iron shop in Herndon. With assists from cranes, sandblasters and heavy equipment, welders at the shop attached two steel sections into one 17,000-pound cross. Fernández recalls the total cost, including his labor, as $12,000.

On Nov. 21, 1990, on the Feast Day of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, a derrick raised the cross, anchored by welds and seven feet of steel encased in a massive block of concrete. The new St. Francis de Sales Church opened nearby in June 1992.

Fernández has since sculpted other crosses and spiritual statuary for several Virginia, North Carolina and D.C. churches and Christian retreats, including St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Leesburg, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Ashburn, Peace Lutheran in Annandale and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown.

Fernández, a full-time professional sculptor in metal, said he is always seeking a "spontaneous spiritual expression of the Holy Spirit" before starting a project.

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