The 1,800-pound marble statue has been submerged for decades under 22 feet of water in Little Traverse Bay, a small bay off of Lake Michigan in the northern area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It is put on display yearly, weather permitting. This year, some 600 people came to view the statue through a hole carved in the five feet of ice covering the surface of the lake, WPBN reported.
According to Inside Edition, the statue was first ordered from Italy by members of the family of 15-year-old Gerald Schapinski, who'd died in a farm accident in the town of Bad Axe in 1956. The $2,500 statue was intended to memorialize him.
However, the family reportedly refused to accept the statue upon its delivery because one of the arms broke off in transit. The statue was not returned to Italy due to its weight and was instead auctioned by an insurance agency, WZZM13 reported.
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The statue was eventually purchased by a member of a Michigan diving club, the Little Traverse Bay Dive Club, which requested that the crucifix and statue be placed in Lake Michigan to honor a diver who drowned in Torch Lake, Michigan's second largest inland lake. The religious symbol, which was repaired before it was submerged, came to memorialize all those who lost their lives at sea.
Since 1986, the Little Traverse Bay Dive Club has held viewings of the cross each year in February or March, if weather permits, WZZM13 reports. The club typically makes a hole in the ice and places lights in the water to make the white marble statue more visible as people pay their respects.