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Holy Cross
Church

Pfeifer, Kansas


The town of Pfeifer is located 10 miles south of Victoria on the south bank of the Smoky Hill River. The inhabitants of this town are for the most part descendants of the German-Russians who emigrated here in the years of 1876-77-78 from the towns of Pfeifer, Kamenka, semenoka and Rothamel in Russia.

As you travel south on Pfeifer road and come down onto the river you will behold the breathtaking sight of a majestic gothic spire rising above the wheat fields. Also known as "The Cross in the' Valley" , the Holy Cross Church in Pfeifer, Kansas stands and will stand for years as a lasting monument to the strong and lively people whose generosity and self denial made its erection possible.

The church was built of native limestone at a cost of $56,000 and was solemnly blessed and dedicated on May 3, 1918. The church is sometimes referred to as the "Two Cent" church because each family was assessed two cents on every bushel of wheat sold. This beautiful church is a most artistic example of the gothic style of architecture. It was built under the able direction of Father Peter Burkard.

The church plan is laid out in the form of a cross. The sanctuary is the head, the transepts are the arms, and the nave is the body of the cross. This structure with its imposing limestone buttressed walls of Romanesque Gothic architecture is indescribable. This classical Basilica dedicated to the Holy Cross of Christ is a perpetual and evident monument to the settlers, the pioneers, and the present members and benefactors.

Over the main entrance is a magnificent mosaic of the Last Judgement Day designed by the Venetian artist Bianchi. The interior of the church is massive. The vaulted Gothic ceiling rests on tall quadrille columns, and is surrounded by the red oak ornamented transept balconies and the rear Choir balcony. The interior design was patterned after thc church in Father Burkard's homeland in Germany. The transept balconies do not have a stair case. However, in the European churches they were built to accommodate the orchestra that played the music for the Mass.

Due to World War I, stained glass was impossible to get so the windows were frosted glass and the walls were not painted. The church stood this way until 1962 when under the guidance of Father Emil Sinner the interior of the church was decorated. Father Sinner also began the program to install stained glass windows. It was through his devotion, inspiration and drive that these "almost impossible tasks" were accomplished. The main alter, which was in the old church, was built by John Schlitter and contains in its foundation the cornerstone of the old church. He also constructed two side alters which feature matching carved ornamental gothic spires. In 1922 life size statues of carved native wood from Munich, Germany were procured.

 

On July I, 1993 the decision was made by the Diocese of Salina to dissolve the parish. However the church itself remains open to the public on a daily basis. In order to maintain the upkeep of the church and cemetery the remaining few parishioners formed Holy Cross Charities, Inc., a non-profit corporation that depends solely upon donations. Contributions can be mailed to P. 0. Box 5, Pfeifer, KS 67660.

“This was a great day of joy and jubilation, in the midst of war chaos, for the people of Pfeifer, as well as all Ellis County Catholics and the surrounding areas in which all of them heartily participated.”

 

 

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Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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