town of Pfeifer is located 10 miles south of Victoria on the south
bank of the Smoky Hill River. The inhabitants of this town are for
the most part descendants of the German-Russians who emigrated here
in the years of 1876-77-78 from the towns of Pfeifer, Kamenka, semenoka
and Rothamel in Russia.
As you travel south on Pfeifer road and come down onto the river
you will behold the breathtaking sight of a majestic gothic spire
rising above the wheat fields. Also known as "The Cross in
the' Valley" , the Holy Cross Church in Pfeifer, Kansas stands
and will stand for years as a lasting monument to the strong and
lively people whose generosity and self denial made its erection
church was built of native limestone at a cost of $56,000 and was
solemnly blessed and dedicated on May 3, 1918. The church is sometimes
referred to as the "Two Cent" church because each family
was assessed two cents on every bushel of wheat sold. This beautiful
church is a most artistic example of the gothic style of architecture.
It was built under the able direction of Father Peter Burkard.
The church plan is laid out in the form of a cross. The sanctuary
is the head, the transepts are the arms, and the nave is the body
of the cross. This structure with its imposing limestone buttressed
walls of Romanesque Gothic architecture is indescribable. This classical
Basilica dedicated to the Holy Cross of Christ is a perpetual and
evident monument to the settlers, the pioneers, and the present
members and benefactors.
the main entrance is a magnificent mosaic of the Last Judgement
Day designed by the Venetian artist Bianchi. The interior of the
church is massive. The vaulted Gothic ceiling rests on tall quadrille
columns, and is surrounded by the red oak ornamented transept balconies
and the rear Choir balcony. The interior design was patterned after
thc church in Father Burkard's homeland in Germany. The transept
balconies do not have a stair case. However, in the European churches
they were built to accommodate the orchestra that played the music
for the Mass.
to World War I, stained glass was impossible to get so the windows
were frosted glass and the walls were not painted. The church stood
this way until 1962 when under the guidance of Father Emil Sinner
the interior of the church was decorated. Father Sinner also began
the program to install stained glass windows. It was through his
devotion, inspiration and drive that these "almost impossible
tasks" were accomplished. The main alter, which was in the
old church, was built by John Schlitter and contains in its foundation
the cornerstone of the old church. He also constructed two side
alters which feature matching carved ornamental gothic spires. In
1922 life size statues of carved native wood from Munich, Germany
July I, 1993 the decision was made by the Diocese of Salina to dissolve
the parish. However the church itself remains open to the public
on a daily basis. In order to maintain the upkeep of the church
and cemetery the remaining few parishioners formed Holy Cross Charities,
Inc., a non-profit corporation that depends solely upon donations.
Contributions can be mailed to P. 0. Box 5, Pfeifer, KS 67660.
“This was a great
day of joy and jubilation, in the midst of war chaos, for the
people of Pfeifer, as well as all Ellis County Catholics and the
surrounding areas in which all of them heartily participated.”