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‘Hand of God’ in woman’s art work

‘Hand of God’ in woman’s art work
‘Hand of God’ in woman’s art work
Jean Schettler of Lanesville, left, shows Nina Schettler a Blue Cross replica she modeled after a cross portraying Christ's crucifixion that hangs in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy. She was commissioned to do the piece for a church in California. (Photo by Lindsey Corley)

It is serendipitous.
That’s how Jean Schettler describes the events that led her to, from her home studio in Lanesville, create a replica Blue Cross like the one hanging in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, that was boxed up and sent to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
It starts with the fact that Schettler and her husband, Karl, moved seven years ago to Lanesville from Torrance Beach, Calif., just a few miles from Hermosa Beach. In fact, she said she passed the church where the cross will hang daily on her drive to work.
Once in Harrison County, she began working out of her home studio, teaching and producing her own art, as well as becoming involved with Harrison County Arts!, where she met David Kocka, a former Catholic priest and current bishop. Incidentally, he spent time, in the 1970s, in Hermosa Beach, and when representatives from the church were struggling to find someone to commission to do the piece, a cross painted with the scene of Christ’s crucifixion, they called on Kocka and asked if he knew someone.
Turns out, he did. He asked Schettler and, once she found out the church where the cross would be hanging, she said she nearly ‘fell out of her chair’ at the coincidence.
The project officially began for her when Larry Rol of Greenville carved the piece, which was completed and given to Schettler by July 22. Then Schettler began the process of sealing, sanding and sealing the wood again. The cross had to be painted with red iron oxide water-based paint and then finished with sizing, a type of glue. After letting the sizing age, Schettler began hand applying 5×5-inch squares of gold leaf to the 5-foot wide, 7-foot tall crucifix, which weighs some 400 pounds.
‘It was a lot of work,’ she said.
Finally, Schettler had to burnish the wood and seal it again, all before she could begin painting the replica of the crucifixion onto the cross.
‘It’s a wonderful project,’ she said. ‘I feel honored to have been able to work on it.’
Despite the long hours she put into the piece, she said Sunday afternoon that she would be ready to see it leave the following day for its journey to its new home. It was scheduled to be picked up by a parishioner from Our Lady of Guadalupe who owns a trucking company.
With the different connections linking Schettler to the church in California, including the fact that her daughter and grandchildren live very close and can view the crucifix once it arrives, Schettler, a member of the Baptist faith, said she knows the project came together with divine intervention.
‘We all think the hand of God is in there some place, directing this,’ she said.
Schettler, who has four children and seven grandchildren, said she is planning to travel to Hermosa Beach Oct. 28 to see the cross in the church.

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