The Roman Catholic Basilica in Christchurch is at present just a shadow of it’s former self…
…although who knows what will happen even though the building has joined a select few on a short-list of historic buildings that many Christchurch residents have indicated that they would like to see saved at any cost.
The others are the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, Canterbury Provincial Buildings, and the Arts Centre and they are on this short-list because these buildings are so tied up in the identity of the city that their loss should be considered only as a very last resort .
The financial feasibility of saving them is of course a totally different issue and every large aftershock that continues amongst the multitude of small tremors, adds additional damage millimetre by millimetre to the already weakened structures.
These aftershocks have proved to be the fatal nails in the coffin for many historic buildings around the city so it remains to be seen if the Roman Catholic Basilica and the other top historic buildings can withstand the shaking until the tremors subside to pre-September 201o levels.
One strange thing happened during the February 2011 earthquake, there was a large statue of the Virgin Mary in the bell tower that usually faced the bell-ringers but during the earthquake she turned a full 180 degrees to look instead out of the window behind her, amazingly the statue remained upright during the entire process although she did get a little chipped by falling masonry.
(Local Carmelite nuns have since repaired her).
The angels above the main entrance to the nave survived the quakes, the stone cross that once stood on the parapet just above them did break off and was hanging precariously over the edge, so was quickly removed for safety reasons.
It’s nice to see that the angels survived, no mean feat considering that each of the tall towers either side of them plunged past during the shaking.
Hopefully it can all be restored… of course it’s still too early to tell, but I will hopefully be back in Christchurch in a few years time and will continue to document the decisions and events that will decide the future of this stunning building.