DES MOINES, Iowa — A 9-year-old girl killed in last weekend's mass shooting in Arizona will be buried in a hand-crafted casket donated by a group of Roman Catholic monks in Iowa.
Trappist Caskets, which is owned and operated by monks of the New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque, was contacted by the Bring Funeral Home in Tucson, Ariz., on behalf of Christina Taylor Green's family.
It's a comfort to the family "to know that it was made by monks and blessed by the monks," said Belinda Motzkin Brauer, a representative for the funeral home.
The casket is made of red oak grown in the monastery's forest, said Sam Mulgrew, the general manager of Trappist Caskets. It was engraved with Christina's name, date of birth and date of death before it was shipped to Arizona on Tuesday, Mulgrew said.
Christina's visitation is on Wednesday and her funeral is Thursday in Tucson. The girl, born Sept. 11, 2001, was among six people killed in the shootings that seriously wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was meeting with constituents outside a grocery store. In total, 19 people were shot.
The New Melleray Abbey, which was founded in 1849, started Trappist Caskets in 1999 when the monks began selling caskets and urns to families at wholesale costs.
"Our caskets are made by hand. They're very slowly made. They're made by monks," Mulgrew said. "They don't make caskets the way we make them anymore."
The monks also made special keepsake crosses for Christina's family. In the spring, they will plant a red oak tree in Christina's honor.
Trappist Caskets donates many children's caskets. Mulgrew said the monks have established a fund for that purpose that people can donate to.
"They are opposed to profiting from it so they prefer to donate the caskets," Mulgrew said.
The monks belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, known as Trappists. They farmed in Iowa for 160 years, but gave that up last year, said Mulgrew, who is not a member of monks' community. Caskets are now their main business.
"This is good work. They are cloistered monks. It's a work of mercy for them and it's meaningful for them," Mulgrew said.