Religious Oddities Damaged by the Elements

Two Arizona sites listed as oddities have fallen victim to wind, rain and fire.

Mini Taj in Yuma Desert
Mini Taj in the Yuma Desert. Photo Credit: Sam Lowe

The little church that Loren Pratt built to honor his late wife – the Mini Taj – was severely damaged by an Arizona thunderstorm. It stood in the open fields at Dome and welcomed visitors and curious passersby since 1996, but succumbed to the storm in early September. The winds tore the roof off and left only a couple of walls standing.

The church was small on the outside and even smaller on the inside. The pews held only one person comfortably, and the structure measured only 15 feet from ground level to the top of the steeple. The family has announced plans to rebuild on the same site, on U.S. Highway 95 about 15 miles north of Yuma.

Giant Cross Shrine in Hereford
Giant Cross Shrine in Hereford. Photo Credit: Sam Lowe

A forest fire that raged over Cochise County this summer destroyed the chapel at Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine near Hereford. The chapel’s huge wooden beams couldn’t withstand the blaze, but the nearby 30-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a 70-foot Celtic cross survived. The shrine was built by Pat and Gerry Chouinard in the late 1990s.

It is located eight miles south of Sierra Vista just off mile marker 333 on Highway 192.

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