Parents of fans of the movie Frozen, you might not want to show this post to your children, unless you want them to beg the priest to say Mass in the snow on Sunday.

The Snow Altars of Wyoming

At the beginning of the second semester, freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College are required go on a winter expedition in the Grand Tetons near Jacksonville. They learn to make their peace with the wintery world for a week, creating shelters and structures out of the snow that surrounds them. This year, the director of the Outdoor Adventure program took things one step further by challenging the groups of students to construct the best snow altar for the outdoor Masses being celebrated at each site by the college chaplains.

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The students took him up on the challenge, and created altars complete with Latin phrases, communion rails, and crosses constructed out of tools or sticks.

Here are some of our favorites:

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

snow altar three

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

The students cross-country ski to get around, and spend a full seven days roughing it in the winter wilderness! Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College.

The students cross-country ski to get around, and spend a full seven days roughing it in the winter wilderness! Photo courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College.

Wyoming Catholic College strongly believes in using outdoor programs as a means of building leadership and problem-solving skills. They are the only college to require their freshman to participate in both the winter expedition and a 21-day fall expedition at the start of the year. For even more snow altar photos, click here.

The Ice Church

These Wyoming students are not the only ones constructing things out of snow for the Lord, however. On a remote mountain in Romania, there is a church made entirely of ice that  is only reachable by cable car, at an altitude of 6,600 feet. Catholic priests bless the waters of Balea Lake, northwest of Bucharest, from which chunks of ice are then cut and welded together with water and snow to create the chapel. In a country with a history of religious suppression by the government and tensions between denominations, the Ice Church is an ecumenical place where Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic services are held. The Church is reconstructed and blessed every winter.

The Ice Church in Romania in 2008. Credit: János Rusiczki via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The Ice Church in Romania in 2008. Credit: János Rusiczki via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

 

Inside the Ice Church in 2008. Credit: János Rusiczki via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Inside the Ice Church in 2008. Credit: János Rusiczki via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

For photos of the Church from this year, click here.  There was a similar Ice Church constructed in Bavaria in 2011, celebrating the 100th anniversary of an ice church build in 1911 as a sign of defiance from the faithful who had no place to worship. For photos of the Bavarian Ice Church, click here. 

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