Italy quake destroys four ancient churches

April 7th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by ANI  

Rome, Apr.7 (ANI): The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on Monday morning has damaged at least four old churches.

The Italian Culture Ministry said the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, a striking pink-and-white stone-faced structure, was among the buildings severely damaged.

It is known for its architecture and for an annual pilgrimage to honor 13th-century Pope Celestine V, a former hermit who was both crowned and buried there.

One nave wall in the church, which is also celebrated for its 14th-century frescoes and lavish Gothic interior, collapsed in the quake, while the bell tower of another church, the lavish Renaissance-era Basilica of San Bernardino, collapsed, reports The Guardian.

Also damaged was a castle renowned as one of Italy’s best-preserved 16th-century fortresses.

The Forte Spagnolo, or Spanish Fort, is so called because it was built under the orders of Spain’s then king, Charles V, whose forces had defeated local rebels.

The quake was powerful enough to be felt in Rome, around 60 miles from the epicentre.

Heritage officials in the capital said the tremor had been strong enough to damage the third-century Baths of Caracalla, the Roman public baths popular with tourists. (ANI)

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