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<!---##CCI#[Text Tag=head Group=All]---><headfit>Church of Steps seeks donations <P> </headfit> <!---##CCI#[/Text]---> Church of Steps seeks donations

By Kevin Eigelbach
Post staff writer

Emergency repairs to one of Cincinnati's oldest and most famous churches are almost finished. Now parish leaders are mobilizing to cover the cost of the job.

The parish of Holy Cross-Immaculata in Mount Adams is asking the community to help cover the cost of the project at the Church of the Immaculata, popularly known as the Church of the Steps for its Good Friday tradition of "praying the steps."

How to offer help
• Contributions for repairs to the Church of the Immaculata may be sent to the Immaculata Building Fund, 30 Guido St., Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202.

•  For more information, call the church office at (513) 721-6544.

A large chunk of the $500,000 the parish wants to raise will go for support columns and a support structure in the undercroft of the church. They were put in place when a routine roof inspection showed that a wall and the roof had shifted over time.

But some of the money will pay for new asphalt shingles for the roof, said the parish pastor, the Rev. Stan Neiheisel.

The roof normally gets new shingles every 20 years, he said, but "we want to put a 40-year roof on it this time."

The church is widely known for the pilgrimage an average of 10,000 people make there every Good Friday, praying on each of the 150 steps that lead up the steep hill to the church.

"That's why we feel the whole city would like to help us out, probably, so we're going to ask for contributions if they want to preserve the church," Neiheisel said.

The parish will also seek grants from organizations, not necessarily religious ones, that preserve historic structures, Neiheisel said.

The tradition of praying the steps started even before the church was built in 1859-1860.

Archbishop John Purcell decided to build the church while praying during a severe storm at sea. He promised God that if he survived, he would build a church on the city's highest point, Neiheisel said.

Purcell put up a cross on the site where he planned to build the church, and asked for prayers for the new building. People prayed as they walked up the hillside.

First wooden steps were put up, and then in 1911, the city of Cincinnati helped the church build concrete steps.

During Purcell's day, the church was popularly known as the Archbishop's Church, Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said. It was formally known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, he said, and Purcell was the first to call it Immaculata.

It was one of seven churches in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati that the archdiocese asked local Catholics to make a pilgrimage to in 2000, in honor of what Pope John Paul II called the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.


Publication Date: 09-25-2002




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