Bikeway Of The Crosses

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This is a guest blog post from Mike Minardi, husband of Laurie and brother to all the rest. Last Sunday, our daughter Rebecca and I, went on a wonderful bike pilgrimage through the "Land of the Cross Tipped Churches". This is the area just north of Dayton that was settled by German Catholics in the late 1800's. Nearly every hamlet and village had its own Catholic church and many are within a mile of each other. There is even a crossroad where you can see seven churches at once!

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What made this trip extra special for us is that many of the churches up north, including three of the seven that we toured, were built by our great-great-grandfather Anton DeCurtins. He and his wife Mary had ten children and some of his sons became builders of churches as well. It was awesome and moving to see these beautiful structures among the cornfields of Auglaize County and to realize they were built by hand by our ancestors.

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For Rebecca, actually touching the stones of the churches made her feel connected to her heritage in a way that she never had before. Our family tree is a mix of people of many different nationalities and combine that with the fact that Laurie and I moved often during Rebecca's childhood, Rebecca sometimes felt a lack of "roots". Rebecca said she felt the passion and the love that Anton and Mary poured into the buildings and she felt grounded in her family history.

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A wonderful highlight of the trip was the final stop at the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics . This holy place contains the second largest collection of relics in the Western Hemisphere. How many of you knew this treasure is located in west-central Ohio? At the end of our tour, the guide asked us if we would like to hold a relic of the True Cross. We all thought about it for a millisecond and exclaimed "YES!" It was truly inspiring to hold in our hands a tiny splinter from the Cross upon which our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed our souls.

This pilgrimage ride was organized and led by my friend, the indefatigable Brent Devitt, who has marked out four different bike rides that go from church to church in the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches. You can learn more about these rides, which Brent calls the "Kreuzwegs "German for "Way of the Cross" at this site:

https://sites.google.com/site/kreuzwegpilgrim/,

God bless you all!

Mike

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