The new cross atop St. Boniface Hospital — a familiar landmark on Winnipeg's skyline — received the blessing from Archbishop Albert LeGatt on the windy rooftop Monday morning.
The blessing of the cross, also livestreamed to a small crowd inside the hospital's chapel, completed the installation of the illuminated beacon. The replacement process began in November when the old cross, in place since 1954, was taken down after it was determined its time had come to an end.
The cross harkens back to the roots and identity of the Catholic hospital, founded in 1871 by the Grey Nuns. The new cross is expected to last 50 years.
"I'm very happy that they put up a cross, because when they took it down, it just hurt me. When they said they were going to get a new one because the other one wasn't working, I said it was necessary because it's a sign of love, it's a sign of health, for the people that are sick," Sister Juliette Thévenot said.
"I've heard so many people say, every evening they look up and they see the cross and it gives them peace. It fills them with energy to want to keep on.
"I think it shows also the compassion, the care that is given in the hospital. This is what is really behind the mission, is to give compassionate care to everyone who comes through the door."
The cross, back-lit in LED lighting, stands 5.2-metres high and 2.7-m wide.
"That cross is seen both day and night, and I hope it gives people the opportunity to stop and pause and think about all the men and women who get up every day and come through the (hospital) doors to offer some support," said Daniel Lussier, chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba, which helped pay for the new cross.
"It's a symbol of hope for those who are marginalized, disenfranchised and in need of support in some way, and St. Boniface and other organizations are going to be there for them."
St. Boniface president and CEO Martine Bouchard said the cross is also a symbol for the hospital, which uses it in its logo.
"We are transmitting our symbol and we are making it shine for the whole population. It embodies who we are and how we want to be projected. To have a new cross is an absolute must, because our cross before wasn't shining on one side," Bouchard said, noting the old cross could not be fixed as it was welded in place.
"My wish, the executive, the board and hopefully all the personnel at St. Boniface can proclaim and continue to share the Catholic faith-based values of humanity and how we heal patients as compassionately as possible."
On the rooftop just below the cross, LeGatt held a large blue Bible and sprinkled holy water during the ceremony, with the sun on his right shoulder and the wind whipping up snowflakes around him.
"We ask that all who come here, beneath its shadow, receive love and compassion," he said during the blessing.
LeGatt later said mass, to honour the World Day of the Sick.