The 10-foot, cast concrete cross on Pensacola Beach commemorates the first Christian mass held in the United States in 1559 when Dominican friars with the Luna expedition performed a mass on Santa Rosa Island celebrating the Assumption of Mary. The Knights of Columbus first placed it on the north side of Fort Pickens Road in 1959 as part of the quadricentennial celebration of Don Tristan de Luna’s landing in Pensacola, establishing America’s first European settlement. Some time later, the cross was moved to its current home on the south side of Fort Pickens Road.
The cross has stood firm through many bouts with Mother Nature, including, most recently, Hurricane Ivan, which flattened most gulf-front dunes for several miles east and west. So far, there is no scientific explanation as to why the dune and the cross have been spared so many times. According to several residents, the answer will never come from science but instead can be found from within.
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