After leaving Lock and Dam No. 12 in Bellevue, we visited the St. Donatus Catholic church, built in 1908. We were just a little too late to crash our second wedding of the day; the bride and groom were being photographed, so we snuck around the other side of the church to visit the cemetery and the way of the cross.
Afterwards, when we were sure the wedding was already over and we wouldn't be in the way, I ventured into the historic church to capture a few photos.
The interior was not as ornate as the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, but it was still strikingly fancier than almost all churches in my area--which surprised me after walking the Way of the Cross.
The Way of the Cross surprised me as well, but in a different way. The trail was rough leading to each of the 14 small red brick stations which were original lithographed prints depicting the sufferings of Jesus on His way to Calvary.
The trail was slightly steep in places, graced not with pavement, handrails, or chair lifts but with exposed tree roots, thistles, and dung from the sheep that graze there. It was quite hot, and annoying flies and mosquitos abounded.
This was a place that could actually start a person thinking about the sufferings of Jesus a lot better than an air conditioned church with soft pews and chandeliers.
Just think, Jesus had to carry a heavy cross, after being severely beaten, to Calvary on a trail that may have been rather like this one; and He wasn't taking a leisurely stroll. Soldiers were guarding and escorting Him to his death, "Move a little faster!" He was in agony and surrounded by crowds who mocked and hated Him. Women's cries added to the clamor as they wept for Him. And He wasn't thinking about His own suffering; He was thinking of them--and of us. "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children..."
When we reached Pieta Chapel it was surrounded by a flock of sheep that quickly scattered as soon as they saw us.
Inside the chapel was surprisingly cool. Built in 1885, it was very small with only two short rows of pews.
"Run for your lives! Here come the tourists!"
Across the valley one can see the Lutheran church standing tall on the other hill. The scenery is majestic. St. Donatus is an interesting place to visit if you would like to enjoy a taste of history and the great outdoors.