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Saturday, 09 September 2023 15:06

Summit crosses

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by Don Bruno Capparoni

CWhat is more beautiful than a summer walk in the high mountains? The body and spirit benefit from it. Sometimes on the paths and on the mountain tops we encounter the "peak crosses" which become the destination of our walking and remain almost inseparably linked to the panorama we contemplate. Sometimes they are crosses placed in memory of a mournful event, of a misfortune in the mountains or of a war event, and then they recall the traveler to sad thoughts and prayer.

Earlier this summer it appeared on some media a controversy, however short-lived and quite calm: whether the so-called "peak crosses", as they are linked to a specific religion which is Christianity, can constitute a "non-identifying" or even "divisive" element, while the mountains should maintain a "neutral" character. 

I pass on to the readers of The Holy Crusade my reflection on the matter. 

First of all, the cross does not want (and cannot) be a divisive symbol. It is intrinsically a sign of love, of a gift of self out of love until death. The word that accompanies it is from Jesus in the Gospel: «Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends» (Jn 15, 13). Whoever plants a cross or whoever looks at it cannot miss this first reference.

Sometimes the crosses in the mountains recall an accident, a very serious and unexpected pain, a death. In this case the "peak cross" contains a cry of pain and at the same time an invocation. There is therefore nothing further from "divisive" intentions; these crosses are a sign of human tears and divine consolation.

Often the "peak crosses" are placed near stupendous panoramas, almost as if to symbolize an imposing amazement. A young mountaineer recounted this amazement in a letter to a friend: «Every day I fall more and more in love with the mountains and I would like, if my studies allowed me, to spend entire days in the mountains contemplating the greatness of the Creator in that pure air. ». Words of the blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, in search of what the crosses indicate with their silent language: a Presence. 

Of course, discussions and even controversies, like the one I mentioned, shouldn't surprise us too much today. It is not uncommon to meet those who are convinced that, out of respect for freedom or even justice, the external signs of a religious identity, such as crosses, should be erased. This thinking could become mainstream in the future and therefore we should see the removal of crosses and other symbols of faith in the name of respect for others. Of course, it would be a big pain! But no one will ever be able to tear the cross from our minds and hearts. Ultimately, the mind and heart of the believer are the true "peak" on which the cross is planted. If it remains firmly fixed in that place, its function and its truth will never be cancelled, ever! 

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