A man was crushed to death by a giant cross dedicated to John Paul II just days before the former Pope is declared a saint. The 100 foot cross collapsed suddenly during a ceremony in northern Italy, killing 21-year-old Marco Gusmini instantly.
The Daily Mail reports that Gusmini was on a pilgrimage with other young Catholics in the Alpine village of Cevo, in the Lombardy region of Italy, when the tragedy happened.
Mayor Silvio Citroni said that Gusmini and his friends were having a picnic beneath the cross when they heard creaking noises coming from the monument. They ran in different directions, and unfortunately, Gusimi ran right beneath the cross as it fell.
The cross was curved and contained a statue of Jesus weighing 1,320 lbs. It was designed by sculptor Enrico Job to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s visit to the region in 1998, and it was anchored to the ground with cables representing the scars of the Second World War.
The cross after its collapse
Mayor Citroni described the accident as “an unexplainable tragedy”, and added: “A young life, so many hopes destroyed.”
“The young people were making a snack for lunch and when they heard the crunching noises coming from the cross they fled in all directions. Unfortunately Marco ran in the wrong direction.
“This is a place for pilgrimages and family visits. We never imagined that something like this could happen.”
The tragedy comes just days before Pope John Paul II is to be canonised as a saint in Rome, along with Pope John XXIII. Nearly a million Catholics from around the world are expected to travel to the city on Sunday to witness and celebrate the double canonisation.