Minneapolis church struck by lightning, destroying cross

St. Helena Catholic Church in south Minneapolis was struck by lightning early Wednesday morning, destroying the limestone cross that sat atop the church for 75 years. The force was so intense, the 3-foot high, several hundred pound cross came crashing down, taking out beautiful rooftop tile, granite steps and a nearby walking path as it fell to the ground.

"I drove up, shell-shocked. It looked like a bomb had gone off," business manager Mike Petruconis said. "It just blew the cross apart and took out part of the rooftop."

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in lightning strike, which happened at about 4 a.m. Upon initial inspection, it appeared no damage was done to the church's gorgeous interior. In fact, 8 a.m. mass was held and school continued as scheduled while crews cleaned up around the grounds.

"People came through side doors," Petruconis said. "We are pretty resourceful. We figured out ways to get in and do it safely. We said a few prayers of thanks."

It is still too early to know how much the damage will cost, although church officials believe insurance will cover the repairs. The congregation is also vowing to rebuild the church's iconic cross.

St. Helena Church is located at E. 43rd Street and S. 32nd Avenue, a few blocks east of Lake Hiawatha.