Staring out to sea from the coast of Cape Fiolent on the Crimean peninsula, the most stunning thing that stands out across the picturesque seascape is a single giant cross, jutting up from a small rock island.
Known as Cross Rock or alternately the Rock of the Saint Image, this otherwise unremarkable oceanic feature is a lonely and stunning tribute to local faith. As the story of the rock goes, a ship carrying hundreds of Greek sailors was caught in a storm in 890 that threatened to kill them all, so they began to pray to St. George for help. The kindly saint went ahead and appeared on the rock and told the storm to chill out, which it did. As thanks for pulling them out of harm’s way, the sailors created a monastery on the shore near where they were saved.
Over time the monastery fell into disrepair, but the story was not lost. On the 1,000 year anniversary of the sailors’ miraculous rescue and the founding of their church, a restoration effort began that brought the monastery back to life. In addition to returning the monastery to good working condition, a cross was installed on the rock where the saint is said to have appeared. Standing over 20 feet tall and weighing over a ton and a half, the rock cross is hard to miss, and the story is hard to forget.
While it is not the largest monumental cross in the world, and the story that inspired it may seem a bit hard to swallow, even by early Christian allegorical standards, Cross Rock makes an unforgettably beautiful sight.