Giant Jesus Statue to Be on Display Under Lake Michigan

A crucifix at the bottom of Lake Michigan will be visible on Saturday.
Hundreds have viewed the submerged Jesus on the cross. Emmet County

For those who don't mind standing in line on frozen Lake Michigan, Saturday will offer an extraordinary opportunity to see a marble crucifix buried by water.

Billed as the world's only freshwater-underwater crucifix, the 11-foot sculpture rests at the bottom Little Traverse Bay, under 22 feet of water and 5 feet of ice. 

The public will be able to view it through a circle cut in the lake's frozen surface. If all goes according to plan, Saturday's event will be the first time in four years that weather conditions have permitted what historically had been an annual event.

The rendering of Jesus Christ on the cross ended up in Lake Michigan via a very long story dating back decades.

The saga began in 1956, with the death of s 15-year-old boy in a farm accident near Bad Axe. His grieving family ordered a 1,850-pound marble crucifix from Italy, but refused shipment of the statue because it was damaged in shipment.

The religious symbol was put up for sale and purchased by a member of a local diving club, which arranged for it to be lowered into Lake Michigan in honor of a diver who drowned in nearby Torch Lake. Over time, the statue came to be a shrine for all who perished in water. 

It was moved closer to shore in 1985, when sediment began overtaking the statue. The first public viewing was held a year later. In 2015, a record-number crowd of 2,021 stood in line to catch a glimpse of the underwater icon. Since then, thin ice or bad weather has caused the event to be cancelled.

Saturday's viewing is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Petoskey. A tent will cover the viewing hole, some 1,200 feet from the shore. 

Bad weather conditions could cancel the outdoor function, however. "Look for the tent — no tent, no event," warned the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau on its Facebook page.

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