The incident occurred in the Alpine village of Cevo in northern Italy, days before Pope John Paul II's canonization.
Marco Gusmini, 21, had accompanied his church group to the religious site. "The young people were making a snack for lunch and when they heard the crunching noises coming from the cross they fled in all directions," Mayor Silvio Citroni said. "Unfortunately Marco ran in the wrong direction."
The pilgrim died instantly.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera noted that Gusmini, ironically, resided on a street named after Pope John XXIII in Bergamo.
It is unclear what caused the 1,320 lb. crucifix, anchored by cables, to collapse.