Holy Trinity parishioner uses woodworking skills to glorify the cross

By Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller
Contributing Writer

LIGONIER –  The woodworking skills of Christopher Maier of Ligonier have come a long way from the first time that he made a crucifix 11 years ago. He was 13. Maier took a scrap of wood salvaged from a burn pile and a corpus that he’d saved from a broken cross. It was no masterpiece, yet he was encouraged by the praise from his family. He knew he could serve the Lord in a unique way.

Over time, Maier’s skills improved as he made about 100 more crucifixes. Then he learned  more efficient techniques working as an apprentice in Sirofchuck Studios near Stahlstown where his father-in-law, Paul Sirofchuck, creates unique and artistic furniture.

Last year Maier started a business that he calls Take Up Your Cross Woodworking. So far,  he has made nearly 300 crucifixes from the maple, black walnut and cherry wood harvested from Sirofchuck’s woods, and from imported mahogany.

   “It has a been a spiritual journey for me,” Maier said.

Originally from  central New York state, Maier came to the area in 2018 to study at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe where he met his future wife Clair Sirofchuck. They married after graduation and welcomed their son Thaddeus in January. They are members of Holy Trinity Parish in Ligonier.

Maier married into a talented family. His wife is an artist and her father, Paul, is a potter as well as an artist and sculptor who works in wood. Paul’s wife, Mandy works with stained glass, and Main Exhibit Gallery & Art Center in Ligonier is their family business. Maier sells his crucifixes there and online in his Etsy store.

“Working with my hands, I really feel in touch with St. Joseph the woodworker,” he said. “Then making crucifixes is this idea that there’s something greater than what I am doing, knowing that I am making the most iconic symbol of Catholicism and Christianity, as well as it being the symbol of the means by which we are saved. The whole meaning of the crucifix is astronomical.”

  The crucifixes  range in size from the most popular one that is 5 inches, to ones that are  24 inches tall.

 “People love the small ones that they can give as gifts or purchase for themselves,” he said.

The scraps and cutoffs from Sirofchuck’s projects are just the right sizes for the crosses that Maier shapes, joins, sands and finishes to highlight the beautiful grains and tones of the wood. The cast metal or resin cast plated with silver corpuses are from a supplier in Italy. In the near future, he’ll be purchasing wooden corpuses carved by Italian craftsmen.

 While he creates the crucifixes, he’s mindful of their intent and of the people who will have them.

  “When I am attaching the corpuses, I say a little prayer for whoever will have them,”  he said. “I pray for the Lord to safeguard whoever uses this crucifix, and to protect them in mind, body and soul.”


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