There are many stories about the mysterious cross from Colombia, passed down from generation to generation and preserved in several historical and ecclesiastical records.
They all say the same thing. In the middle of the 18th century, on the beach in Cartagena de Indias (a city in northern Colombia, on the Caribbean Sea), Dominican monks found a large piece of wood. They took it to the monastery because they thought that the figure of Christ could be carved in it.
The monks showed the piece of wood to an elderly man who was in the monastery at the time and who claimed to be a sculptor from Florence.
But the artist reportedly concluded that the dimensions of the tree were inappropriate. He instructed the novices to throw that part back into the sea and look for another, more suitable one, to carve a life-size crucifix.
A few days later, the young monks found the same piece of wood on the beach, but inexplicably enlarged. This time the man considered it suitable for sculpture. However, he set two conditions. First, he wanted to work in solitude, in a certain place (one of the cells in the monastery). Second, he wanted his meals served through a tiny window in the cell door.
For several days the brothers and novices heard nothing but the sounds of saws cutting wood, chisels and other tools. They saw nothing but the hands of the nameless artist as they served him food and water through the window. No one spoke to him, no one saw his face (he came to the monastery hungry and only in rags).
Author of the cross: Angel?
Two weeks later, the sound of the work tools stopped, and the window through which the sculptor was fed with food did not open again.
The expectation of the monastic brothers turned into anxiety. According to Atilio Oter, cultural researcher, “the monks must have been nervous because after a few hours of silence in the sculptor’s cell, they decided to knock on his door to see if he was alive.”
What they found, according to Otero, was incredible: an almost two-meter tall sculpture of Christ at the moment of the crucifixion. Neither the tools nor the sculptor were found with the statue. The food they brought to the artist for two weeks remained untouched.
According to some publications, the artist’s disappearance (as mysterious as his arrival at the monastery) has given rise to legends that he is an angel sent by God with the task of creating this miraculous sculpture.
A beautiful cross
The sculpture, which has become one of the symbols of the city, is inscribed on the World Heritage List. It attracts both Colombians and tourists from other countries who visit the Santo Domingo church to see if the mysterious cross is really worth admiring.
The mysterious sculpture of Christ shows something that many works of art have failed to convey: the exact moment of death, the final tension of muscles and tendons, the last spasm of the body, the last look, the last breath…