Holy Cross Catholic Church in San Jose, California, was founded as a mission of St. Patrick’s Church in 1906 to serve the many Italian immigrants of the north side neighborhood. At that time, it was known as the “Mission of the Holy Crucifix”.
In 1911, it was identified as an Italian National Parish, and at the same time its name was changed to Most Precious Blood.
Every Sunday there was a mass in Italian and one in English. The Sisters of the Holy Family helped the people of the parish for sixty-six years, from 1907 until 1973.
1906 Parish named Latin as SS Crucifixi, Most Holy Crucifix. Church built for the for the Italian Community living in St. Patrick’s parish by the St. Patrick’s pastor Father J. Lally. Since San José was at that time part of the San Francisco archdiocese, Bishop Montgomery, coadjutor of San Francisco Archbishop Riordan, formally blessed the new church on December 8, 1906. Father Lally’s completion of the Holy Crucifix Church on Jackson Street is especially noteworthy considering that his own St. Patrick’s Church was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake two months earlier in September. (St. Patrick’s was replaced by a wooden structure dedicated in April of 1907 by Archbishop Riordan.) * The Sisters of the Holy Family helped the people of the parish for sixty-six years, from 1907 until 1973.
1912 – 1914 Parish renamed, Pretiosissimi Sanguinis, Most Precious Blood. Fr. Egisto Tozzi served for one year as the first pastor, who celebrated two Masses every Sunday, one in English and one in Italian.. Afterwards the parish was given over to the Jesuit Fathers.
1921 Fr. A. Diomede, S.J. was pastor of the parish until 1921, at which time the care of the parish was again turned over to the diocesan clergy. A larger stucco church was dedicated in 1920 (during the pastorate of Father A. Bruno), the old church was used for catechism classes and parish offices
1928 The Parish had its final name, Holy Cross Parish as still part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
1953 first rectory was located on North 12th Street and the present rectory was built
1958 parish hall was constructed.
1961 the Archdiocese of San Francisco entrusted Holy Cross Italian National Parish to the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians); their charisma was to serve the Italian Immigrants.
1970 a catechetical center was built in back of the parish hall.
1973 the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo assumed charge of the Religious Education program, and continued to do so until 1997.
1974 Additional classrooms were added to the center
1977 parish hall was remodeled, Italian Festival and Parish Carnival took place in the summer. It was during the late seventies and early eighties that the neighborhood and the parish went through major demographic changes. Holy Cross parish opened its doors to welcome the local residents and immigrants of several countries. For some time, a mass in Vietnamese was celebrated on our premises and the Philippine community started a novena in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Since many Spanish people moved into the area and a great percentage of our children in the religious education program were from Spanish speaking families,
1982 The Scalabrini Fathers started the first mass in Spanish
1985 our church building went through some major interior renovations.
1994 more rooms were added to the catechetical center
1997 the Religious Education Program was placed in charge of the Scalabrini Missionaries
2006 during the celebration of Holy Cross Centennial Anniversary, a new floor covering was placed in the church and the original crucifix was refurbished and reinstalled behind the altar.
2009 In December a new shrine in honor of Our Lady of Grace was built at the entrance of the rectory.
2010 In the second part of the year, the Parish Pastoral Council, along with the parish community, updated the Parish Mission Statement.
A Special Crucifix
A precious crucifix from Italy that once hung behind the altar was almost thrown away, then rescued, stored in a garage, and finally returned to the church almost forty years later. In 1966, then-pastor Father Joseph Bolzon C.S. installed a new altar to face the congregation. During the remodeling, the 10 foot painted and gilded wooden crucifix that had formerly hung from the half-dome behind the altar was removed along with a Pieta and fourteen painted stations of the cross.
The crucifix in use after the remodeling was a much-smaller one that topped a gold tabernacle. The tabernacle was kept on a table behind the altar in front of a black marble backdrop with a gold-embossed depiction of the Last Supper.
Pastor, Father Mario Rauzi C.S., did another renovation that removed the black marble piece some time in the 1970s. The walls behind the altar were now made up of lighter marble, and a much-simpler smaller crucifix from the 70s, occupying the center panel. A mural was painted in the half dome in 1977 by a local artist.
By the time the first crucifix was removed, it had faded from the parish memory that the installation of the crucifix and the stations of the cross had been an important event. An item in the “Church News of the Week” section of The Monitor on 9/21/1907 reported about the erection of a large crucifix over the main altar on Sunday 9/17, and it lauded the stations of the cross as “beautiful oil paintings, imported from Italy.” (The Monitor was the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Holy Cross was part of the San Francisco archdiocese at the time.)
In 1966 the church caretaker rescued the crucifix, stations, and statues and took them home. A few years ago the caretaker died. The family kept the stations and statues but circumstances led them to contact Brother Charles Muscat, C.S., to ask if Holy Cross would want the crucifix back. By that time the crucifix was in broken in pieces. Brother Charles’s accepted the offer and with the help of A family member, put the pieces back together and the patched-together crucifix was hung in one of the CCD classrooms.
The current pastor Father Clair Antonio Orso, C.S., hired an art restoration expert, to restore the crucifix, which as it turns out is an irreplaceable piece of art that was originally crafted in Italy. The expert stated that the crucifix was crafted of close-grained, knot-free joined wood that was skillfully aged beforehand to prevent shrinkage, a quality of wood that would be impossible to obtain today. The body of Christ, the corpus, is painted, and the wood of the cross is gilded. A small painting of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is at the head of the cross, and another small painting of Our Lady with John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalen is at the foot. The arms have silvered representations of the symbols of the four Gospel writers, the lion, the eagle, the ox, and the man.
The restoration was complete in time to be unveiled during the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross on September 14, 2005. It was reinstalled in a place of honor behind the alter after almost 40 years of absence.
2014 Church Fire
May 2018 the newly rebuilt Church openned its doors to the parishioners. The new church designed by Topa Architecture now has a modern incorporating some of the original Italian design.