The Strange Journey Of Lake Michigan’s Underwater Crucifix [Video]
Every winter, folks in Petoskey gather on the frozen water of Little Traverse Bay to view a crucifix placed 22 feet below the surface.
But it’s how it got there that is the story.
In the farmlands north of Detroit in Michigan’s thumb, a young man accidentally killed himself with a shotgun way back in 1956. So heartbroken were the teenager’s parents, that they unknowingly set into motion a chain of events that would culminate in a spiritual event in Northern Michigan that attendees have described as a ‘mystical..emotional experience’.
Welcome to the strange journey of Lake Michigan’s underwater crucifix. Now broken and aged, it sits in 22 feet of water in Petoskey’s Little Traverse Bay, and it still brings chills and comfort to broken souls seeking the love of Jesus.
The journey began on a rural farm in Rapson, Michigan, near Bad Axe in the farming Thumb region. In 1956, a 15 year old named Gerald Schipinski was accidentally killed by a shotgun blast on his family farm. The Schipinski family was so distraught, they commissioned an 11-foot tall crucifix to adorn their beloved son and brother’s grave.
The stonework was to be done by hand by a marble carver in Italy, but somewhere during the long journey to the St. Joseph Parish in Rapson, the marble cracked and a piece of the crucifix broke off. The family refused delivery, and the statue was quickly sold off by the insurance company to recover some of its costs.
The purchaser was an equally distraught club of scuba divers from Wyandotte, near Detroit, who were looking for a way to honor a member who died diving in the cold waters of Torch Lake.
Six years later, in 1962, the crucifix was sunk and placed 65 feet of water, 1200 feet from the Petoskey breakwall and dedicated to Charles Raymond. Later, it was rededicated to all divers who has perished in Michigan waters. It remained there until 1985.
The movement of the water had caused Jesus right arm to break off, so salvage divers went to retrieve it for repairs, while bringing him up, the left arm cracked. It was decided to leave the crucifix in 22 feet of water so it could be easier to reach, and could be seen from the surface in the winter when the ice froze clear.
It was at this time Denny Jessick and the members of the Little Traverse Bay Diving Club proposed an annual winter viewing for the public. The event is held in Late February or early March and is contingent on the ice conditions. According to the web site actionwater.com, some have described the viewing as a “personal, emotional, mystical even religious experience.” In 2015, 2000 people showed up to see it.