Like many areas of the world, my area of Michigan has a road known for its 'Tunnel of Trees' . . . local road M119, north of Harbor Springs. It is a scenic drive, but I find the tree tunnel to be secondary to the other things to be seen along the way. The St. Ignatius of Loyola Church and Cemetery is one of those things. There is quite a story behind this church and cemetery that is told in the next paragraph. Here it is shown as an Impressionist painter might have presented it centuries ago.
By the 1740s, French Catholic missionaries had come to this area of Michigan known to the local Native American Odawa people as Waganakising. The missionaries were here to stay. Other missionaries followed including Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868), who dedicated a church at this site on August 1, 1833, The present St. Ignatius Church was constructed in 1889 to replace the one destroyed by fire that same year. The cemetery next to the church contains the graves of generations of area Odawa and dates to before the present church. In the 1970s, an Odawa caretaker of the cemetery placed the white wooden crosses to denote the many unmarked graves.
December 11th, 2020
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