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Published On: Fri, Apr 25th, 2014

Marco Gusmini, Italian crushed by giant crucifix

A giant crucifix honoring Pope John Paul II collapsed onto an Italian man, crushing him to death. The incidient occurred just days before the pontiff is to be canonized.

Marco Gusmini, 21, died on the spot when a 98-foot wooden cross collapsed onto the man while he posed for a picture. The Jesus Christ statue on the cross is six meters high and weighs 600 kilogrammes and the crucifix was curved and fixed to the ground with cables.

Agence France-Presse notes Gusmini had a minor motor disability which may have slowed his reaction to the falling cross. The accident happened just three days before John Paul II is declared a saint in the Vatican, along with Italian-born pope John XXIII.

“It is an inexplicable tragedy. A young life, so many hopes, destroyed this way,” Cevo mayor Silvio Citroni said.

“The boys ran in every direction when they heard the sound of the wood splintering. Unfortunately, that poor boy went the wrong way,” he said, adding that further celebrations to mark the pope’s elevation to sainthood had been cancelled.

According to the Corriere della Sera daily, Gusmini coincidentally lived with his family on a street named after John XXIII.

 The cross was designed by sculptor Enrico Job and was created for John Paul II’s visit to Brescia in the Lombardy region in northern Italy in 1998. It was installed in a picturesque spot near the village of Cevo in 2005.

“The news has really shaken me. My thoughts go to the poor boy and his family,” Job’s widow, film director Lina Wertmuller, told Ansa news agency.

“That cross was a great symbol for Italy, a symbol of protection. But all that seems silly in the face of this terrible tragedy,” she said.

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