Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrates a 2009 outdoor Mass on the shores of the Manatee River in front of the Holy Eucharistic Memorial at Riverview Pointe Preserve and the DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton. (FC FILE PHOTO)

Bishop to celebrate Mass on Manatee River

Bradenton  |  For boaters who cruise up and down the Manatee River, a 60-foot cross on the south shore, at Riverview Pointe Preserve and the DeSoto National Memorial, serves as an important navigational aide.

The cross is part of a larger Holy Eucharistic Memorial, which was placed in its current location in the late 1960s. Several Diocesan Masses have taken place there. Most recently in 2009 when Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass to coincide with both the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese and the “Year for Priests.”

Therefore, it is natural that 10 years later, to mark the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Dewane will again be celebrating the Mass on the shores of the Manatee River.

The public is invited to attend this celebration at 10 a.m., Oct. 25 at Riverview Pointe Preserve. The preserve is adjacent to DeSoto National Memorial and located a half-mile north of State Road 64. Coming from downtown Bradenton, guests would make a right at the intersection of State Road 64 and 75th Street West, which becomes DeSoto Memorial Highway. All are encouraged to wear sunscreen and a hat. Personal chairs are welcome.

Bishop Dewane will be dedicating the Mass to the people of the Diocese of Venice to mark its founding 35 years ago by St. John Paul II Oct. 25, 1984, and in honor of the 12 priests and friars who accompanied a 1539 Spanish Expedition and the Native Americans who inhabited the shores.

“We are celebrating not just an anniversary, but the history of all that came before us; a connection to our past that unites the Catholic Faith,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Holy Eucharistic Memorial was commissioned in 1960, by the Diocese of St. Augustine, which was the only Catholic Diocese in Florida at the time. The memorial was first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, and was at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York. It was later placed at its current location on the shores of the Manatee River.

The memorial includes two carved relief’s depicting a Mass and a Baptism, and a 20-foot obelisk which is figured with carved symbols of the Holy Trinity. A statue of Hernando de Soto was removed after being damaged. Replicas of the statue also stand at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The nearby 60-foot Memorial Cross was dedicated by then-Bishop John J. Nevins in 1996.