During the early 1800s, the first Catholics in Columbus were visited only occasionally by traveling priests of the Dominican order. When Father Thomas Martin, OP visited Columbus in May 1833, a group of five local landowners (Samuel and Margaret Crosby, Nathaniel and Caroline Medbury, and Phoebe Otis) met with him and proposed to gift property at Fifth and Walnut streets to the Catholic Church provided that a church building be constructed and in use within five years’ time. That building, Saint Remigius Church, was dedicated on April 29, 1838.
Measuring at just 55 feet long and 30 feet wide, Saint Remigius Church was planned as a temporary place of worship that would later be turned into a school. The pastors at Saint Remigius also served the Catholics in neighboring cities in addition to the parish’s own primarily German congregation.
Father William Schonat became the first resident priest in 1843. By then, the growing Catholic population in Columbus necessitated a larger church building. At Father Schonat’s request, the parish was renamed “Holy Cross”. The present structure was completed in 1848, just as Irish immigrants began to arrive in Columbus to escape the Great Famine. This influx of migrants eventually split off to form Saint Patrick Church, though they continued to share Holy Cross while the new church was being built.
The property is located on 0.165 acres at the corner of South 5th and East Rich Streets in Columbus. The church is constructed of over 800,000 bricks. It features a prominent statue of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa with the inscription “Follow Me”, and clock tower with a steeple and belfry. The “Follow Me” statue covers an inscription that reads “God forbid that I should glory, but in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world”, a quote from the Epistle to the Galatians.