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St. Mary, Star of the Sea’s cross taken down after being left dangling from steeple during storm in South Baltimore

The cross atop a steeple of a South Baltimore Roman Catholic church was left dangling Monday afternoon after a series of thunderstorms that swept through the area.

The Baltimore City Fire Department was called to St. Mary, Star of the Sea in the Riverside neighborhood around 3 p.m., spokeswoman Blair Adams said. It was just minutes before the National Weather Service lifted a tornado warning for most of Central Maryland.

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When firefighters arrived at 1400 Riverside Ave., which is nestled among rowhouses, they found the cross on top of the church dangling from above. No injuries were reported.

The damage was likely caused by the 68 mph winds, accompanied by 2 inches of rainfall over the past 24 hours, Adams said, that were recorded in South Baltimore on Monday.

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Fr. Josh Laws, a priest at the church, said he was watching a movie when a parishioner texted him a photo of the dangling cross. He immediately got up and ran to the site.

“My first thought was well, 'Happy Easter, God!" he said. “[Second was] really just gratitude that nobody was hurt and everything else looks fine.”

Laws said he just went inside the church with building inspectors and the church and steeple were deemed safe and structurally sound. Around 7 p.m. a crane helped lower the cross to safety to “start working on fixing it and getting it back up and shining,” Laws said.

After the cross was lowered, Laws said, he found a time capsule inside. He said he’s not sure when he will open it.

The church’s steeple partially collapsed in 1903 after a tornado swept through the area. And in 1999, the roof collapsed and caused St. Mary, Star of the Sea to close its doors for what was believed the first time its then-130-year history, according to a Baltimore Sun story. According to the story, the church steeple is one of the highest points between the Outer and Inner harbors.

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