Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Holy Place

Photo: Ross Becker https://picasaweb.google.com/RossBeckerNZ

The announcement was made last week by Bishop Victoria Matthews that the earthquake damaged Christchurch Cathedral would need to be “deconstructed” to a safe height of 2-3 metres. 

Photo: Ross Becker https://picasaweb.google.com/RossBeckerNZ

Since then, there has been a strong public backlash, especially in the letters to our local newspaper.  Most of the negative comments appear to be from those that consider the Cathedral to be not so much a Church, but a heritage building, a city icon, a tourist draw card.  Most of the comments I’ve seen from Christians, both Anglican and otherwise, tend to be more supportive of the Anglican Church’s decision.  They perceive the Cathedral as being less important than the people that make up the Church, and the ministry of the churches throughout the city that have been supporting and helping each local community.  The little things you don’t see much of in the media like running community food banks.

Photo: Ross Becker https://picasaweb.google.com/RossBeckerNZ

It’s taken me a few days to unravel what I feel about it. 

When I journalled about this over the weekend, I remembered another Holy place I’d visited.  This was a temple that had been demolished by a roman army nearly 2000 years before I visited, and only one wall remained.  Yet that wall remained a place of remembrance and prayer.  I approached respectfully, and placed my hand on the stone blocks.  The stone was cool to touch, even though the climate was hotter than what I’m used to .  There was a sense of a powerful, Holy presence. 

Assorted photos taken by myself, and postcards purchased in 1998.

I’m grieving for the Cathedral.  But in my own opinion, it was more than just the building that made it special.  It had been a place of prayer and worship for several generations, and the spiritual atmosphere reflected that.  I don’t think a deconsecrating ceremony, or even deconstruction of the building will actually take that away.  And I can imagine that a new Cathedral, that perhaps echoes the old without being an exact replica, would also become a special place to pray and reflect.

In the meantime, I choose to remember the best of what was.

I’m wearing one of these


to remember this
Photos from http://www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz/About/Inside-the-Cathedral/The-Nave-Southern-Side

(For more information about the Christchurch Cathedral, and its rebuild, see http://www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz/)


  1. Great post Claudia...

    I notice the noise is currently all about the loss of the Anglican Cathedral because it is an icon, central, and tourists love it. WIll there be the same response when the Basilica is taken away too? I see it daily from my office window and recognise it is a huge loss to the community too. They both act as places of worship for their religions but although equally splendid, the Barbadoes St area doesn't seem to hold as much significance.

    Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether they will build a new Anglican Cathedral on the same area - as it is their land. Or is it too unsuitable to build on again... will they go cardboard, or rebuild offsite somewhere such as Hagley Park, Latimer square( St Johns site) . Will something else be put in the square.. so many decisions, all sad.

    If we do rebuild these huge stone buildings, how will they ensure they meet the new earthquake codes - unless they use wood/ tilt slab/ stone facades to replace them. I am not sure I ever want to return to a large solid stone church, along with tall parking buildings, shop parapets, old high rises, maybe even new high rises!

    I do like the idea of a wall to remember it being retained - somewhere to preserve some of the memory and history of the people who came here and built it. To pause, reflect, acknowledge.

    The Rose Window pendant is lovely - my friend has one too. I have a number of earthquake charms but might have to go shopping again.

    Take care

  2. Thanks Fi.
    You're so right about the Basilica.
    My wish for the rebuilt Cathedrals would be something completely new, yet retaining the flavour of the old (perhaps one wall, or a restored Rose Window?). I'll have to wait and see like the rest of us - and pray for wisdom for those making the decisions, and a gifted architect. Hopefully it won't take 40 years to rebuild like it did for the original.