Much to the dismay of my devout Italian grandmother, I have long given up going to church.
However, I still love places of worship. For me, they are imbued with memories: memories of happy times and sad times, beginnings and farewells.
And, whenever I enter a church, a temple or a mosque, I cannot help but feel that there is something special in the air, a certain sacredness that transcends the religious – as if the building itself retains a lingering awareness of the many prayers and hopes of those who have visited it.
So I have been really saddened by the fact that many of the churches in Christchurch have not fared well in the earthquakes.
Most of us are aware of the severe damage suffered by the iconic Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals, but these unfortunately have not been the only casualties. My quick roll-call includes:
- St Luke’s in the City, on the corner of Manchester and Kilmore Streets;
- Holy Trinity in Avonside;
- Knox Church, on the corner of Victoria Street and Bealey Avenue;
- the Sydenham Church, in Colombo Street;
- St Mary and St Athanasious Coptic Church in Edgeware Road; and
- the Union Parish Church and Holy Trinity Church in Lyttelton.
Luckily the memory of many of these buildings lives on in the library:
- in our books;
- in our local history fact files;
- and in our digitised photographs.
And, even more luckily, many gems have survived, though admittedly some a tad battered.
My personal favourites are St Peter’s at Church Corner in Riccarton – a little island of peace surrounded by busy streets – and St Paul’s in Papanui, which was designed by B. W. Mountfort, and whose cemetery is home to a number of illustrious Cantabrians, including Robert Heaton Rhodes and Charles Upham, V.C.
Do you have a favourite church, or any other places of worship to add to my sad roll-call of earthquake casualties?