All images are copyright © 2008-2013 Russ Martin,
(unless otherwise indicated). All rights reserved.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Conflict of Interest

It was a late Friday evening and I was in Maria Stein taking pictures. I had just left Saint John where I got a great shot of the church from the back with the cemetery. (See Description of Byway for pic) I had moved on to the Shrine of the Holy Relics and hadn’t been there long when a very nasty storm started moving in. As you can see from this picture with the flag the clouds were almost black. The wind was picking up and I wanted to get some pictures of the 50 foot cross from the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein so I packed up the van and drove down rather than walk.

This is just one of the few pictures I was able to snap before the sirens sounded. I am not a storm chaser, besides it looked like it could rain buckets at anytime, plus my 15 year old son was home alone and I did not have my cell to check on him. So I booked it. I was worried about my son and didn’t want him worrying about me. Of course there was a very good chance that he would be oblivious to anything that was happening outside of his laptop screen.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it."
John 1:5

Surprisingly the buckets of rain never came. The sun dropped under the storm clouds and then OH MY JOSH, the storm clouds lit up like fire. The sky was ablaze with orange, purple, red…it was awesome. And here I am trucking down 119 in the middle of no-where and no place to stop and take a decent picture. I could turn back. Visions of what the sky was doing and all the possible foreground elements I had just left behind haunted me, calling me to return.

As much as I wanted to go back, I did not. I needed to be a father not a photographer. I stopped just before the light show ended and took some pictures. Somewhere in the process my camera had got set to an ISO of 1600, just not my night. (High ISO means Noise/Grain). When I got home, I found Tyler not oblivious but amused that I rushed home to his rescue.

I may have missed a great photo opportunity, but regardless of how my son felt, I know in my heart I did the right thing.

Thank You Susan K. for the Scripture Suggestion for the Cross and Storm

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stations of the Cross

I am not Catholic but I have had the good fortune to attend a Catholic wedding or two, allowing me to get a glimpse into the Catholic way of worship. One of the the things I could not help but noticed and found truly fascinating was the Stations of the Cross. I have seen these in stain glass, mosaic, carved, relief and many types of sculpture from classic to modern. The stations cover Christ's journey to the cross starting with Him being condemned to His death and burial. What I have been photographing and referring to as a memorial to Calvary is in reality Station 12 (Jesus Death on the Cross).

You can imagine my joy when I found these statuary's of the Stations of the Cross at the Shrine of the Holy Relics in Maria Stein. First off, I have not seen these in the day time. I took these at night using my flash. They are not lit up at night. I stopped down my flash by a stop and did some finagling in PhotoShop to achieve the affect I wanted. I entered this one in the Edison Photo Society Summer Show.

Click either of the images above to read what the Wikipedia has to say about the Stations of the Cross. To see all 14 stations check out the right bottom margin of this web page.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This church looks almost plain compared to the others that I've been taking pictures of but its simplicity is what I find so compelling. It was easy for me to capture that Post Card look I was striving for. I am looking forward to coming back and explore further the inside and its history. All in all I made two trips to this church and am glad I did. I completely missed the Cemetery located just west of the church on my first visit.

As I make my way along the byway its hard not to stop at churches I've already completed to take a moment and look for shots I missed or a chance to get a picture with a better sky, or just to admire the cross tipped spire reaching for the heavens. When was the last time you took time to reflect, to savor a moment, to look about and say WOW? Finding God is easy when you look for him.

(Click on the Crucifix for a full size picture to see the detail)

(Go to Description of the Byway to see full picture of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Whats Inside?

When I started this I had no intention of trying to take pictures inside and out. I knew there would be some really nice pictures to be had by arranging and going inside these churches but there is just only so much time. Not too mention the overwhelming number of pictures it would produce. That changed when I was invited in to the St. Rose church by the secretary.

From the stain glass windows to the ornate altar, and wood carvings, one could not help but marvel at the craftsmanship. That's when it dawned on me that the outside was truly just scratching the surface of these wonderful old churches. And I am sure if I were to dig deeper some wonderful stories as well. I still plan to focus on the outside for this first round but I am convinced a second round of inside pictures will follow shortly. This stained glass window is just one of many in St. Rose.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saint Augustine

You can see the twin spires of the St. Augustine church and water tower long before you reach Minster. This church is large, impressive and was a challenge for me to photograph. The light never seemed right no mater what time of day I would stop by. It was so big I was having problems fitting it all in and doing it justice. My goal for all the churches was to have a Post Card quality picture for each church. I had found several nice pictures of St. Augustine on the Internet and was looking for my own shot to add. You can see my picture in the Description of the Byway Post.

The frosted glass at the top is found on all the front entry doors. I am not sure if they are three of the Apostles or some other Saints. I thought it was a rather modern and unique feature. The above is a close up of one of the towers featuring the clock.

This close up of one of the spires gives you a good look at the cross tip and detail in the roof. While not so apparent to the naked eye, the cross gives off a wonderful golden glow when the setting sun hits it. Check out the cross tipped spire at the top of the Description of the Byway post to see what I mean.

On more than one occasion while taking pictures people would stop and share a comment about the church I was photographing. I was impressed with the sense of pride echoed in their remarks. From the young to the elderly and everything in-between, the people I met clearly felt connected. Their pride was one of ownership not just the beauty of the brick and mortar.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On The Web

I am not the only person who has taken noticed of these wonderful churches. Check out the German Egyptian or the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches in the Associated Links for more pictures, historical narratives and perspectives on these churches and others in the area. All the links listed are the ones I found as I searched the Internet for information on the byway. If you have a link you would like to see added, post it in a comment or E-Mail it to me.

Cross Tipped Spire with Clock (St. Augustine)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in McCartyville and was the first church I visited. The church was recently renovated by adding a major addition. They did an excellent job of combining the new and old parts of the church. I could not readily tell where the old left off and the new started. One unique feature that struck me was that the church was faced with flatstone and not brick. (See Description of the Byway for pictures) This gave it a more modern look and probably is why the addition fitted in so well.

When I take pictures this close to home I usually plan to make several trips. It never ceases to amaze me what a difference a change in day/light can make. In my photo class they taught us the rule that it’s best to take outdoor pictures in the morning and evening. I am really starting to appreciate and understand that rule as I return to find new beauty in the same subject under new light. Sometimes you discover something new like this old iron cross.

I tend to think of my first visit like a meet and greet. You exchange names, some pleasantries and move on. The second is more relaxed and takes more time. You talk about each others work and wife and kids. You leave with a little more understanding and knowledge of your new acquaintance. Further visits and you become friends, sharing feelings and dreams. This is the point for me where I go from taking pictures to capturing the moment.

The church had many elements that I wanted to capture not just photograph so I knew I would be spending some time here. It took several trips before I was happy with any of them. I think I visited the church no less than 5 times to take pictures. One of those was after a spring day rain and the other at night. Finding the Calvary monument lit up at night was a nice surprise.

The Calvary memorial in the cemetery tucked behind the church has proven to be most photogenic. It has grown to be one my favorite subjects. It became one of my “Where did you see Jesus” moments when I caught it with the sun setting. I was so taken by the sight that I almost forgot to take a picture.

More Pictures Coming Soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Plan Develops

As the pictures started to accumulate, I began to wonder what to do with them. It seemed such a shame to just let them sit on my hard-drive. A friend of mine suggested to create a blog. I thought it was a great idea so I'm giving it a try. The first couple of post are going to be playing catch-up with where I am at currently in the process. Once caught up I am hoping to have weekly to bi-weekly post with updates on my progress. The plan is to have photographed all 10 locations by late fall.

The plan has further expanded to possibly an exhibit at the local library and maybe a few other locations. It's one thing to upload and post pictures on the Internet. It is completely another to print, frame and hang a large number of pictures. I am still working on the logistics. Cost is becoming a real factor.

The purpose for the blog and possibly upcoming exhibit is to not just showcase my work but to raise the awareness of this Ohio Scenic byway and the beauty it offers. Of course finding that beauty can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but if you look hard enough and take the time you will find it.

All the pictures in this blog were taken by me. I did not take a journalistic approach. The pictures have been edited. Power lines and other distractions have been removed. In this picture of Rachel the light for the memorial and cherubim to hide the light have been removed.

Cross Tipped Spire (Top) and Rachel Memorial taken at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church.

The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches Byway

The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches Byway going from east to west starts in McCartyville with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. The route then follows SR 119 to Fort Recovery and then goes north on SR 49 terminating at SR 29 just west of Walbash ending with the church of St. Anthony. The route runs through 3 counties; Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer for a total of 38.4 miles. Along the way you will be able to visit eight churches and two other points of interest; the Shrine of Holy Relics and Fort Recovery as well as several communities. These churches were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The following points of interest can be found along the byway. I will add more pictures as they become available. If you are just looking for a nice pleasant drive this would be an okay way to spend an hour, but to truly appreciate and find the beauty you have to park, explore and take your time.

The above Cross Tipped Spire taken at St. Augustine
Sacred Heart Of Jesus

Saint Augustine

Saint John the Baptist

Shrine of the Holy Relics

Saint Rose

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saint Henry

Saint Joseph

Fort Recovery

Saint Anthony

Monday, June 2, 2008

About This Blog

A Brief History

The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches is located in the northwestern part of Ohio. The name comes from the large number of Catholic churches with cross-tipped-spires that dominated the skyline and region.  This large collection of churches started popping up in the late 18th and early 19th century as the growing immigrant population mostly of German decent desired to grow their faith like their crops closer to home.  The Society of the Most Precious Blood under the leadership of Father Brunner was instrumental in the construction and founding of many of these churches. Today many of the buildings still stand with some so close together you can literally travel from steeple to steeple. In 1979 many of the churches were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

As part of the Ohio Scenic Byway program a route-designated The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches was created to honor these historic monuments. The route follows State Route 119 West - starting with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in McCartyville and then continues all the way to Fort Recovery. From there you go north along State Route 49 ending at the Saint Anthony church.

The Blog

I discovered the byway while doing some online research in June of 2008 and have been taking and posting pictures of these beautiful churches ever since.  Over the years the blog has gone through a few changes. The biggest change was going from one large post with many pictures to many posts with one or two pictures.  The last major change was 2012, when I changed from a two-column format to three. The header, footer and background graphics have changed also over the years. I am very pleased with this latest incarnation and do not foresee any major changes in the near future.


The Churches – A small slide show of The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches.

Search This Blog – Added in 2012. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the Categories section try the search function. It will search and list any post that matches your entered search criteria.

Email Me – Added in 2012.  I love hearing from folks. Feel free to drop me a line or two.

New Year Resolutions – May state of the union for the New Year.

Featured Post – Added in 2012.  I created this side bar list to highlight some of the post that I really liked or that had a special theme or meaning to me.

About This Blog – Overview and Site Map for the Blog

How It All Started – My story on how this all started.

Diary Of A Steeple Chaser – Formally called the Weekly Journal. This is simply a way for me to provide information that doesn’t fit the Picture Post format.

Land of the Cross Tipped Churches Byway – A pectoral tour of the churches and sites you will encounter on this beautiful Ohio Scenic Byway.

Postcard Series – This series will feature postcard style pictures of the Churches.  I started this in 2012 with a dozen Black and White postcards.  The series will continue in 2013 with a vintage photochrom look and feel. These will get posted the first Monday of every month.

The Way of the Cross Series - When active this series gets posted every Sunday until complete.  I usually use a set of the Stations of the Cross from one church that I have photographed.  Each Sunday is a different station and my include scripture and devotions.

Weekly Scripture – I started this in 2012 as a way to breath new life in some the pictures that I had taken and posted previously. A sort of Mini Best Of with added scripture to complement it. These get posted every Saturday.

Selected Poetry – Every now and then I find a poem that goes well with one of my pictures. These are the ones that I feel picture and poem both work extremely well together.

Selected Prayer – Like the Selected Poetry above these are the ones that I believe worked out the best.

A Prayer Before The Relics – I had the good fortune of being able to take pictures of the Relic Chapel at the Shrine of the Holy Relics at night. This post features those pictures along with the “A Prayer Before The Relics” found on a prayer card provided by the shrine.

Cross Tipped Church Poem – This poem was written by my cousin Dave while touring with me on one of my photo-outings.

Top Ten Pictures – Every January I go through and try and come up with the 10 Best Pictures from the previous year.  It can be hard sometimes on which ones make it and which ones don’t

Poster Series – Sometimes I look at a picture and say gee that would make a great poster.  I am hoping to add steadily to this new collection in the upcoming year.

Associated Links – Web Links to related content concerning The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.

Join This Site – If you like the blog please join and you will get updated when new posts arrive.

Stats – Stats for the blog can be found by clicking on the sitemeter link.


Artist Statement – A blurb about my work and me.

Blog Archive – An archive of post from the beginning of the blog by year.

Categories – All post have tags/labels that correspond to places and or events that the picture was taken making it easy to find pictures of a particular church.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How It All Started

The Beginning Of My Journey In 
The Land Of The Cross Tipped Churches

I was searching the Internet looking for photo opportunities in the area when I came across the Ohio Scenic Byway -- The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches in my own back yard.  It's hard not to notice the large number of cross tipped spires that dot the landscape when driving the countryside in my part of Ohio.  I always wondered what was the story behind all these churches and never dreamed that finding the answer would lead to me taking pictures and blogging my journey along the way.

The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches is a large group of Catholic Churches most of which are of Roman Gothic structure within a 25 mile radius of The Shrine of the Holy Relics. Their history and how they all came into being is a fascinating story of faith and human determination.  You can go to the Marion Community "Land of the Cross Tipped Churches" for a detailed description of each church and their history.

The churches and their related buildings and rectories were put on the National Registry of Historical Places in the 1970's due to the the dedicated work of Mary Ann Brown and Mary Niekamp.  See - National Register Of Historic Places Nomination Form for more information. Thanks to these two women and their hard work this unique Ohio treasure is now a recognized historical landmark.

I started my journey with the intent of just getting a postcard image of the churches along State Route 119. That all changed when the church secretary for St. Rose invited me inside for a closer look. Once inside I was struck with awe at the beauty in architecture and decor. I knew then that I had found what I was looking for.

As I began touring and taking pictures of the churches, I started accumulating a lot of images. It seemed like such a waste to have all these pictures and not share them. When I discussed this with a coworker they suggested that it might make for an interesting blog. I had never blogged before so it was a new concept for me. I took his advice and created this blog to document my journey and photos.

Welcome to The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches. 
I hope you enjoy your visit.
Russ Martin (AKA Steeple Chaser) 

List of Cross Tipped Churches

Holy Family Church (1866)
14 E. Wood St. Frenchtown (Darke)

Holy Trinity Church (1899)
116 E. Main St. Coldwater (Mercer)

Holy Trinity Church (1885)
State Route 67, Trinity (IN. Jay)

Immaculate Conception Church (1903)
229 W. Anthony St. Celina (Mercer)

National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics (1892)
2291 St. Johns Rd. Maria Stein (Mercer)

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (1858)
6524 State Rt. 119, Cassella (Mercer)

Sacred Heart of Jesus (1882)
9333 State Rt. 119, McCartyville (Shelby)

St. Aloysius Church (1877)
State Rt. 274, Carthagena (Mercer)

St. Anthony Church (1869)
471 St. Anthony Rd. St. Anthony (Mercer)

St. Augustine Church (1849)
48 N. Hanover, Minster (Auglaze)

St. Bernard Church (1924)
75 W. Main St. Burkettsville (Mercer)

St. Charles Seminary and Chapel (1906)
U.S. Route 127, Carthagena (Mercer)

St. Francis Church (1906)
1509 Cranberry Rd. Cranberry Prairie (Mercer)

St. Henry Church (1897)
272 E. Main St. St. Henry (Mercer)

St. John Church (1850)
Schemel and Van Buren Sts. Fryburg (Auglaze)

St. John the Baptist Church (1889)
8533 State Route 119, Maria Stein (Mercer)

St. Joseph Church (1887)
State Route 364, Egypt (Auglaize)

St. Joseph Church (1866)
1689 St. Joseph Rd. St. Joseph (Mercer)

St. Joseph Church (1911)
101 W. Pearl St. Wapakoneta (Auglaize)

St. Louis Church (1914)
15 Star Rd. North Star (Darke)

St. Mary Church (1871)
3821 Philocthea Rd. Philothea (Mercer)

St. Michael Church (1881)
33 Elm St. Ft. Loramie (Shelby)

St. Nicholas Church (1908)
128 Church St. Osgood (Darke)

St. Patrick Church (1884)
Glynwood Rd. Glynwood (Auglaize)

St. Paul Church (1888)
Sharpsburg Rd. Sharpsburg (Mercer)

St. Peter Church (1904)
1477 Philothea Rd. St. Peter (Mercer)

St. Remy Church (1946)
108 E. Main St. Russia (Shelby)

St. Rose Church (1911)
7428 State Route 119, St. Rose (Mercer)

St. Sebastian Church (1903)
3280 County Rd. 716A, St. Sebastian (Mercer)

St. Wendelin Church (1870)
2980 Ft. Recovery-Minster Rd. Wendelin (Mercer)