“The Man on the Cross” by the renowned Michigan sculptor Marshall Fredericks. It is made of bronze 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick. It weighs seven tons, is twenty-eight feet tall from head to toe, and the outstretched arms span twenty-one feet. The figure of Christ is attached by thirteen bolts 30″ long and 2″ thick that were made when the figure was cast in Norway.
Fredericks wanted to portray Christ in a peaceful way. It was his dream to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross”. Christ is symbolized just at the moment when He commends Himself to His Father. The sculptor received special permission from the Vatican to omit the crown of thorns and the wound on Jesus’ side.
Fredericks was commissioned to sculpt a 6-foot-tall crucifix, but instead designed this 28-foot, full-scale model, for a bronze to be placed at the Indian River Catholic Shrine in Indian River, Michigan. The bronze Corpus is mounted on a 55-foot-tall redwood cross. When erected in 1959, it was believed to be the largest crucifix in the world. Since then, a 65-foot crucifix was erected in the cemetery of St. Thomas Catholic Church near Bardstown, Kentucky however the Corpus on this work is only 14 feet in height.
The Indian River figure required only three years to complete, however the plaster model on which it was based required seven-years of restoration before being put on permanent display at the Fredricks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University. It suffered from neglect during the two-decades it was in storage at the foundry in Scandinavia after the bronze was cast. In his depiction Fredericks chose not to depict the pain and suffering of Jesus and omitted the crown of thorns and the wound in the figure’s side. Instead, he shows the powerful body of Jesus at peace in the moment after death.
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