Aftershocks cost Christ Church Cathedral its rose window

Part of the destruction caused by the Feb. 22 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Darrenp
Part of the destruction caused by the Feb. 22 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Darrenp
Published June 14, 2011

A series of aftershocks that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, on June 13 has left about 50,000 people without water and electricity and caused the total collapse of some buildings.

Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, already damaged from the devastating Feb. 22 earthquake, lost its rose window and more of its masonry.

The bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, has asked Anglicans to be aware and to distribute the guidelines issued by Civil Defence officials on how to keep safe during aftershocks.

“With the continuing aftershocks in the Canterbury region it is especially important the ‘drop, cover and hold’ advice continues to be followed,” said Civil Defence Control Peter Mitchell in a press release.  Running to get outside increases the risk of being injured, he said, adding that most earthquake-related deaths and injuries result from flying glass, collapsing walls and falling objects.

Bishop Matthews also advised clergy and parishioners to take care of each other.

“I am aware of the deep exhaustion in the ranks of hardworking Anglicans…If you do not have someone to replace you when you get tired and need a break, ask for such a volunteer,” said Bishop Matthews, in a message posted on the diocese’s website. “…We are in this for a long haul and we are all vulnerable to an extent. ”

Bishop Matthews also reminded them that they are not alone. “It is the Body of Christ making the response to the needs of the people of God,” she said.

Christ Church Cathedral parish said the rose window shattered from the magnitude 5.5 and 6.0 aftershocks that hit at 1 p.m. and 2: 20 p.m., 10 km. south of Christchurch and a short distance from the fault that resulted in the Feb. 22 earthquake. More than 180 people were killed in that earthquake.

“Over recent years the window has come to personify the Cathedral’s life and presence in the city. Sadly, its image is all that now remains,” the parish said on its website. “The stained glass panels and ornate surrounding stonework lie shattered and broken at the foot of the steel bracing, placed in hope, to be its saviour.”

The west wall, a tourist destination that offers a spectacular view of the city’s Cathedral Square, is almost gone. “Only 25% remains.”

The diocese has determined that as a result of the February earthquake and those in September and December 2010 at least 23 churches can no longer be occupied. According to an update from the church’s property trustees, two have already been deconsecrated by Bishop Matthews so they can be demolished.

There are still no updates on whether the recent aftershocks exacerbated the situation in the previously damaged parishes.

New Zealand’s government research institute, GNS Science, has warned of more jolts in the coming days and weeks.

Christchurch Cathedral is accepting donations online to support its ongoing operations. For more information, click here.


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