One of the true jewels of Christchurch, New Zealand's architectural heritage is the Catholic Cathedral on Barbadoes Street about fifteen minutes walk out of the CBD. Reading the tourist literature in this very Protestant inspired city - whose central square is Cathedral Square and another Latimer Square- you wouldn't guess it, for our Cathedral is hardly mentioned. Rather all the talk is of THE Cathedral, the Anglican Cathedral on Cathedral Square which in the media parlance of the day is "iconic"for the City.When a City has a Latimer Square and a not far distant Cranmer Street, Catholics should not expect too much I suppose.

The tragic earthquake which struck the City at lunchtime yesterday has produced an appalling loss of life with 65 confirmed dead (38 identified) and at least 150 missing and perhaps more hidden under mountains of rubble.

Interior of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Christchurch
Media coverage in Australia has been exhaustive and much has been made of the collapse of the spire of "THE"Cathedral (Anglican)in the centre of town. No mention has been made of the collapse of the facade and two front towers of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral (shown above). In fact one would not be aware of it save for brief helicopter overflight pictures of Barbadoes Street, in which the damage could very clearly be seen. No commentary was made. The great Cupola appeared intact, as did the nave.But some local contact suggests more extensive damage, perhaps inside. The Cathedral is very beautiful, and it is a shame it is not better known. An unusual feature is the location of the Cupola over the Sanctuary rather than at the Crossing.

The people of Christchurch deserve our continuing prayers - for the dead, the bereaved, those still trapped/missing , those anxiously waiting news of loved ones and friends who are missing, and for all the survivors traumatised by this violent event, following so closely on the earthquake of 4th September last year. Their future holds a great deal of uncertainty in more ways than one as strong aftershocks continued through the night and Government officials are too immediately pre-occupied to consider the issue of future reconstuction or development. The City's sea port of Littleton has evidently also suffered serious damage and loss of life - it was much closer to the epi -centre of the quake.


Anonymous said…
As a Christchurch person, currently overseas (and a Catholic) I think this is not the time to start making complaints of this sort. The Anglican Cathedral was in the central square - it was a landmark, and (as you correctly say, Christchurch is an Anglican-founded city) it was where public services of the official occasion sort were held. The Catholic Cathedral, although a greater work of architecture, was sort of isolated - an easy walk but through a rather downmarket area some sleazy places even and as I recall no-one went there except worshippers and hard-core architecture lovers. A pity but it did make it so peaceful, holiness of a peaceful kind, very good to be in.

Let's pray for everyone in the city and those who have died and the rebuilding of all the churches.
vexilla regis said…
I respect your point of view , but do not agree. The time for the truth in these matters is when the issues are live and not months or even years later when these matters will have disappeared into the margins of the mental wallpaper of most folk.I have expressed my opinion and my prayerful concern for the deceased, the bereaved and the survivors simultaneously as I felt appropriate. Thank you again for your comment.
Anonymous said…
Aside from the huge loss of life here in Christchurch, the thought of losing the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament breaks my heart. It is the most magnificent, beautiful building in our city ( in my opinion). I attend the Polytech across the road from the cathedral and always park my car facing so I can admire her. One would have to travel to Europe to see such a beauty such as this. I don't know if she can be fixed but I truly hope so. Please don't let Christchurch become a modern city of glass and steel.

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