Monks make, donate casket for youngest victim in Arizona shooting
January 12th, 2011
11:01 PM ET

Monks make, donate casket for youngest victim in Arizona shooting

By Eric Marrapodi and Kara Devlin

A group of Trappist monks in Iowa have donated a handmade casket to bury 9-year-old Christina Green, the youngest victim in the Saturday attack that killed six and wounded 13 others in Arizona.

Sam Mulgrew, the general manager of Trappist Caskets in Peosta, Iowa, told CNN a family representative of the Greens reached out to the monks at New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque after her death. The custom-made casket arrived in Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday morning.

"We didn't want to send an adult coffin that would be too big, we wanted something just for her," said Mulgrew, who is not a monk but who manages the 11-year-old casket business that is part of the abbey.

The casket, crafted from red oak, was made especially for 9-year-old Christina, Mulgrew said. She died after a gunman opened fire at a constituents event held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in the shooting.

Christina's funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Tucson.

The lid of the casket was inscribed with her name, date of birth and death, and a cross. The family also will receive five small keepsake crosses hewn from the same wood as the casket, Mulgrew said.

Before the casket was sent from the monastery in Iowa to Arizona, the monks gave the casket a special blessing inside their chapel on Tuesday.

The monks are Roman Catholic and are part of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. They make and sell custom caskets with "reverence for nature," according to the Trappist Caskets website.

"Along with prayer and study, our casket ministry is an extension of our sacred work. We labor quietly with our hands in support of our life of simplicity," says a statement on the website.

Mulgrew said when a child dies it hits the monks particularly hard. He said they don't like to sell childrens caskets; instead, a "child casket fund" they started often covers the costs.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Arizona • Catholic Church • Death • United States

soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. cindym

    Now, you'd think that other so called "religous order" that likes to spew hatered for attention would read something like and get the message. This is what life and unfortunatly death is about, finding beauty & love in everything. To bad they can't find a construtive way to help others. concerned with the self isn't Jesus m.o. hate to tell ya.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  2. fordman84

    CNN, is there any way you can post info about this "child casket fund"? Sounds like the perfect place to make a small donation, but have it make a large impact.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Annie

      It's easy. Just Google "Trappist Caskets" and you can find them.
      Or, go straight to their website (www.trappistcaskets.com) for more information about what they do there.
      To go directly to information about the Child Casket Fund, go to http://www.trappistcaskets.com/about/child-casket-fund/

      January 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  3. shere

    What a loving and moving article! Even if there is a commercial element for this group of Trappist monks, so be it. They need to make a living too. My tears dropped down last night while I was watching an interview of Christina Green's parents and her brother. Her spirit encourages me to vote and care for the political processes again.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  4. KF

    Beautiful to read an such uplifting story amid tragedy.

    I never comment because of the negative, rude nature of most comments. When I first read this story I held my breath as I got to the comments, sure I would read sarcastic diatribes... Thank you to all who have made such kind and respectful comments!

    January 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  5. Fareed Ansari

    None of us leaves this World, except to be followed by us all. The Hereafter, Unknown and Unseen have a way of explaining the Here and Now, Known and Seen; when, for a brief moment, Death and Life stand side by side.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  6. H C

    God bless them. I love this country. I'll send a donation to these monks.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  7. Amber R

    This makes me proud to be an Iowan. Bless this child, and bless the monks who take it into their hearts to provide for families grieving for their lost children. Let us all follow their example.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Denise Harman

    At least there is a point of light in this tragic story. How kind of these men to give from their hearts.

    In Louisiana we have a group of monks that make caskets and the State is SUING them!

    January 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • nightwalker571

      What are they suing for?

      January 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bret Thoman

      They don't have a funeral's license, required by state to sell coffins. CNN did a story on it a year or so ago. The monks were challenging it in court. Do you know if there has been an outcome?

      January 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Magnificent Minimalist

    I don't know if that's a wonderful gesture or a flagrant act of advertising.

    January 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • JP

      If only you had actually RTFA. They were contacted by a representative of the Green family. They don't like to sell children's coffins. They have a fund that often covers or defrays the cost for families. Now you may consider yourself enlightened. Dick.

      January 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Beadles

      Feel free to ensure it is a wonderful gesture by donating to the fund.http://www.trappistcaskets.com/about/child-casket-fund/

      January 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Annie

      They've been doing this quietly for years, for many people and families all over the country. This made the news because everything about what happened around Saturday's events in Arizona has made the news. There is no self-promotion, or even promotion here.
      They are quiet men quietly doing the work that they have been called to, this is not advertising...It is simply a note about a wonderful act of love and generosity in the midst of tragedy.

      January 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Elizabeth Whitmore

      The monks are engaged in a ministry of charity and love. It might be helpful .. for you ... to read about them.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Ned

      I wonder if you're cynical by nature, or just making a flagrant attempt to be hateful.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  10. Ruth

    Oops, typo on skepticism, but I am relieved we are right back on track, immediately turning to support one another. God bless.

    January 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Ruth

    Stop – before a beautiful, loving thread go astray. Let us enjoy our collective goodness and remain in our grief, beginning to heal, not turn to sarcasm or sceptisism to brush off the hope we need to heal.

    January 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  12. Chelsea

    A truly generous gesture.

    January 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Marc Crotty

    I made a donation to the Monks to defray the cost of their gift of a casket. If you wish to do likewise, call them at 563-585-0793. You can donate with your credit card.

    January 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • MCArmstrong

      I will make a donation to them as well... and for those who would do the same and would rather do it online, check out:


      January 13, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • larvadog

      Thank you both for this information. I will also donate.

      January 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  14. questiony

    This is sooooo beautiful!

    Of course, a child was gunned down in Michigan, and another in Florida recently. Will these monks donate to those families too? Or is this a pitch to the consumers of CNN and Fox?

    January 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Denise Harman

      It does say that the family contacted the Monks.

      January 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Beadles

      Feel free to donate to the cause so the monks can continue to provide a free casket to a child when asked to do so.http://www.trappistcaskets.com/about/child-casket-fund/

      January 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Anglican

      Fail to see the positive questiony? Why so negative?

      January 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Annie

      They've been doing this quietly for years, for many people and families all over the country. This made the news because everything about what happened around Saturday's events in Arizona has made the news. There is no self-promotion, or even promotion here.
      It is simply a note about a wonderful act of love and generosity in the midst of tragedy.

      January 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Blakstarn

      You can help too by sending funds to cover the cost. My friend you are an example of the ills that fill this country. When you question< give a solution as well. It might make a better person of yourself.

      January 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ned

      What, exactly, did YOU do for any of these dead children?

      January 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • FlangeSqueal

      All a greiving family has to do is contact the monks with the child's age and height.

      They take care of EACH request just like this.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • allen

      Allow the gift to go untarnished with your negativity.
      I am not religious but my hat is off to these monks and I am humbled by their gesture.
      Rest in peace Christina

      January 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • JackieInDallas

      All it takes is a request to the monks, and yes, the families of those other children killed would also receive a casket. Why must you try and make this a consumer issue? The monks are a non-profit business, probably turning out far more caskets than they get paid for. The fund set up helps to defray the costs, but I'd be willing to bet it doesn't match their output.

      BTW, I'm not Catholic, and have no personal stake in this except to see that a truly spiritually healing act gets the recognition it deserves.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Those that have seen my posts know what I think about certain things, and those that have not, it does not matter what I think at this time, other than to say to "questiony": "What an absolutely stupid comment/question? Why couldn't you have just left it alone? At times like these, if you cannot be supportive, it is infinitely better to say nothing. I'd like to tell you want I *really* think in much stronger words, but I will take my own advice, to some extent, and close with you should be ashamed..."

      January 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • ktoey

      Why so negative ?. I am very sure parents of children in the states you mentioned would gladly trade " Obama, CNN and FREE COFFIN " to have their precious ones back !. No, there is no collusion between the monks and CNN.
      CNN is not = Catholic News Network !.

      January 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • questiony

      No, I guess my point is, and ALL OF YOU made it beautifully for me.....is that there are many many tragic deaths of children and otherwise. For some reason this seems more important to you emotionally brittle types and the only reason seems to be that it is playing non-stop on news channels. Grow up and get control of your tiny minded emotions!

      This is similar to getting prayer requests for some unknown kid in Brazil who is suffering from disease. These are people we don't know and will never know. But all you arrogant do-gooder types think so much of yourselves for emoting all over the place here. Your behavior is pointless. Pray right now for that poor child somewhere in China who is being killed. happens all the time. Try to inform yourselves.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  15. KT

    What a bittersweet story. Bless those monks for making that casket for the family. The crosses are an amazing idea and a great way to honor her memory.

    January 13, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  16. Denise Morency Gannon

    I know the work that these monks do and the quality of. The casket. To someM caskets may seem like a trivial part of death, but when it hlds your loved, particularly someome like this innocent child, a handmade casket can seem like the final protective 'blanket' that a parent places as last loving sign. God bless the monks for sending that family such a healing gift.

    January 13, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  17. Mary Ann

    Simply, what a beautiful, kind, loving gesture!

    January 13, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  18. Donna May Evans

    Please as many as can, donate to these wonderful human beings.

    January 13, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  19. Clint

    God Bless Christina and all the innocent victims of this senseless tragedy. What we saw last night in Tuscon give me hope for America. The young people of the United States can perhaps heal this nation. Tuscon has all the reason in the world to be very proud of it's citizens and it's fine college.

    January 13, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  20. Simon

    Wow, Michael.

    Way to take a moving story with a very lovely collection of comments, and turn it into your version of the failed Jim Carrey thriller, The Number 23.


    January 13, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Bill

      Simon, I agree with you 100%

      January 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.