Man crushed by giant crucifix dedicated to Pope John Paul II

Tragedy strikes days before the canonization.

Published 25 April 2014  |  
BBC Video Screenshot

An Italian man was killed in Cevo on Thursday after a giant crucifix dedicated to the late Pope John Paul II fell on him.

Marco Gusmini was taking pictures with his friends near the crucifix when it collapsed. Gusmini was crushed instantly, and another man was taken to the hospital. A group of children reportedly witnessed the tragedy.

The 100 feet tall, curved, wooden cross had a 20 feet tall, stone corpus attached. The statue of Jesus alone weighed over 1,300 pounds.

The sculpture was designed by Enrico Job, and dedicated to Pope John Paul II in Brescia, Italy in 1998. In 2005, the crucifix was moved to Cevo.

Unfortunately, Thursday's accident is not the first falling crucifix death. In 2004, a 72-year old woman was killed when a seven feet tall, metal crucifix fell on her in Sant'Onofrio, Italy.

The most recent crucifix death comes just days before Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII are to be canonized in Rome.

Coincidentally, Gusmini reportedly lived on a street named after Pope John XXIII.

This Sunday will be the first time that two living popes, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict, will be present at a canonization ceremony.

Pope Francis waived the second miracle requirement in order to secure Pope John XXIII's sainthood.

Pope John Paul II led the Roman Catholic Church for 27 years, from 1978-2005. He is credited with two miracles - curing a French nun of Parkinson's disease, and curing a Costa Rican woman of a brain aneurysm.

Millions of people are expected to descend upon Rome to witness the canonization this weekend. In addition to the millions in attendance, there are expected to be over a dozen heads of state and two dozen prime ministers present for the momentous occasion.

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