150-year-old cathedral damaged in New Zealand quake

February 22nd, 2011 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Christchurch (New Zealand), Feb 22 (IANS) A cathedral that dates back to 1860 was damaged in the massive earthquake that struck this New Zealand city, a media report said.New Zealand Herald reported that Christchurch’s historic cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street had half collapsed. The remaining part of the building had also filled with cracks.

The spire on the Christchurch Cathedral has also collapsed, the media report said.

The first church at the site was a wooden building erected in 1860 on land granted to the Roman Catholic Church. This was replaced by a larger church, which became the Catholic pro-cathedral in 1887, historic.org.nz said.

To accommodate the growing Catholic population, a new building was needed and Francis William Petre was contracted to design it.

Petre persuaded then Bishop, John Joseph Grimes, that a cathedral based on the rectangular plan of the early Christian basilicas, and neo-classical in style, was more appropriate and more affordable than the Gothic style that the Bishop initially favoured, the website said.

The foundation stone was laid in 1901 and its construction needed over 120,000 cubic feet of steel, 4,000 cubic feet of concrete and 90 tonnes of steel. The building was completed by 1905.

The cathedral has been described as one of the finest examples of church architecture in Australasia.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, when he toured New Zealand in 1934, compared the cathedral to the work of the Italian Renaissance architect, Filippo Brunelleschi.

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