Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona AZ

Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross is Breathtaking

Dan Turner

In the heart of Arizona’s vibrant red rock country, Sedona reigns supreme as a spiritual sanctuary. Here, among the awe-inspiring cliffs and mesas, you’ll find the Chapel of the Holy Cross – an architectural gem and spiritual powerhouse that’s equal parts divine, quirky, and breathtaking.

Gracefully Wedged into the Rocks

Upon approach, your first jaw-dropping glimpse of the Chapel will render your GPS redundant. It’s impossible to miss the cross jutting out from the rock face, silhouetted against the expansive Arizona sky. This uniquely constructed chapel, wedged gracefully into Sedona’s stunning red rocks, is a testament to the vision of sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. Imagine the head-scratching challenge she faced, convincing an architect, “So, I’ve got this idea for a church…in a cliff.” But oh, how splendidly it panned out!

Inside, the Chapel is a masterclass in understated elegance

Simplicity is the ethos here. No grand altars or gilded ceilings, just a sleek cross, a few rows of pews, and a solitary Madonna, welcoming everyone with open arms. There’s an immediate sense of tranquility, amplified by floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal a panorama of Arizona’s geological grandeur. It’s like God’s widescreen TV tuned to the ‘Spectacular Sedona’ channel 24/7.

The tranquility and sanctity of the place lend themselves beautifully to reflection and prayer, regardless of your religious bent. But keep in mind, this is not your traditional church. Don’t expect sermons or choir-led hymns. The chapel is more a spiritual rest stop than a congregation point.

Now, let’s talk drawbacks—because even heavenly places have a few earthly hiccups

First, parking. The Chapel is a big draw, especially around sunset, and the parking lot, in a word, is puny. Arrive early or be prepared to hike from further down the hill. But hey, consider it a spiritual pilgrimage and rack up those step counts!

Second, the Chapel’s popularity means it can get crowded, which could dampen the meditative vibes for some visitors. If solitude is what you seek, try an early morning or late evening visit when the selfie stick-wielding crowds are thinner.

Lastly, if you have mobility issues, access can be challenging. However, shuttle services are available from the parking lot.

But here’s the beautiful part: the drawbacks actually come with their own silver linings

That uphill walk to the Chapel? It gives you some prime vantage points for capturing unforgettable photographs. And the crowds? They’re a testament to the universal appeal of this space, uniting visitors from all walks of life in shared admiration.

Once you’ve imbibed your fill of peace and inspiration from the Chapel, there’s plenty more to explore around Sedona. The region is renowned for its vortexes, swirling energy centers reputed to facilitate healing and spiritual awakening. Head out on a hike, join a meditation session, or sign up for a guided tour and embrace Sedona’s spirit-tickling adventures.

Remember, the Chapel of the Holy Cross isn’t just a place to visit; it’s an experience to savor. It’s a breathtaking merge of natural beauty and architectural ingenuity, a humble house of worship that stirs the soul and piques the senses.

Yes, there are a few wrinkles to iron out, but they are overshadowed by the grandeur of the Chapel and its surroundings. Take them in your stride and laugh them off, for isn’t life’s spiritual journey full of such minor inconveniences?

In the end, any trip to Sedona would be incomplete without a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It’s an unmatched blend of spirituality, adventure, and visual delight – a heavenly oasis in the heart of Arizona’s red rock country. So buckle up, spiritual adventurers, and get ready for a holy lot of fun!

Marguerite Brunswig Staude, the visionary behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Marguerite Brunswig Staude was a devout Catholic and an accomplished sculptor. Born in 1902, she was a pupil of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and was heavily influenced by his philosophy of designing structures in harmony with their environment.

The story of how the Chapel came to be is nothing short of fascinating. The idea sparked when Staude saw the newly constructed Empire State Building in the 1930s. In the skyscraper’s silhouette, she perceived a cross and felt divinely inspired to build a church.

Originally, Staude planned to construct the church in Budapest, Hungary, collaborating with Lloyd Wright. However, the outbreak of World War II disrupted those plans. Not one to be deterred, Staude returned to her native Arizona, choosing Sedona’s majestic red rock country as the location for her project.

Staude chose a twin pinnacled spur about 250 feet high jutting out of a thousand-foot red rock wall for the site of her Chapel

With architect Richard Hein and contractor August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen, the project began to take shape. The chapel was to be integrated into the red rock, creating a seamless blend of human architecture and natural beauty.

The construction started in 1955 and was completed in 1956, costing approximately $300,000. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is built on Coconino National Forest land; Staude’s family successfully petitioned the U.S. government to grant a Special Use Permit, allowing the chapel to be built.

Upon completion, the American Institute of Architects gave the Chapel its Award of Honor in 1957. In the following years, it became a cherished destination for visitors worldwide, known for its tranquil ambiance and stunning views.

Marguerite Brunswig Staude passed away in 1980, but her legacy endures through the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a testament to her faith, vision, and dedication to creating something truly unique in the realm of spiritual and architectural landmarks.

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