Baraga’s Cross // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

Frederic Baraga was a pioneering Catholic priest who served the Native Americans by the shores of Gitchigumi (Lake Superior.)  During an eight year stint at the mission at La Pointe (Madeline Island), he had the privilege of baptizing 981 people.  Dubbed the snowshoe priest, for an adventurous 700 mile journey on snowshoes, he invested his entire life in serving others.

One day, in 1846, upon receiving news of a terrible epidemic at Grand Portage, the priest and a friend, headed out in a small boat on a merciful mission of kindness.  Unfortunately, a terrible storm overtook them. Howling winds and driving rain nearly capsized their tiny vessel. Angry waves threatened to smash them into the rocks along the shoreline.

“Help us! Jesus! Help us!” Baraga cried — and then came a miracle!  Somehow, the wind blew them into the mouth of a calm, protected river at the point where it emptied into the lake. Instantly, they were sheltered from the storm.

Father Baraga and his friend got out of the boat, onto their knees, and tearfully thanked the good Lord for sparing their lives.  Then, they erected a wooden cross at the spot, to remind other travelers of God’s gracious protection and care.

The first cross is gone now, but another, made of granite, presently stands at the same spot, near Bluefin, Minnesota, on Lake Superior’s north shore.

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