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Christchurch: Treasures arise from the ruins of the cathedral, 10 years after the earthquake | New Zealand




Ten years after the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, the Catholic parish has discovered that it is missing a pair of angels.

As work continues to dismantle the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbados Street – which was severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake, along with most of the city center – many treasures believed to have been lost have been recovered.

Triona Dossi, a archivist at the Catholic Archdiocese of Christchurch, documents the discoveries on Facebook – including decades-old capsules, a charity box full of old coins, and a birth scene with the heads of the characters “removed.”

But two bronze angels – in round panels placed at the end of each altar in the Church of the Holy Spirits dating back to the time the cathedral first opened in 1905 – were found missing from the site when the altar was removed last month. “Obviously at some point over the past ten years, someone thought they were going to show up and take the angels out of the bronze,” Duce said.

She intends to announce the loss on social media: “I hope someone goes” so and so in his room. “

The decision to demolish the heritage-listed basilica was made in 2019, with then-Bishop Paul Martin indicating the incurring of several million dollars and the risk of restoration. The demolition finally began in October of last year, with an archaeologist on site to help recover the sacred or surprising things.

A huge platform was recovered from a safe room inside the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, New Zealand Photo: Triuna Dossi / Christchurch Catholic Parish

“The things they don’t know what to do with them, they bring it to me,” Dossi said. One of them was a collection box for St Vincent de Paul, which could finally be handed over to the charity a decade later – even though the coins are no longer in circulation.

Dossi said, “Weird things like this, it was fun to be able to pull it out and say, ‘This is for you.'”

Many precious items in the cathedral have been removed for preservation prior to the February 2011 earthquake, including the temple doors and the cross by artist Rhea Bancroft.

Dossi said the figure found was remarkable given the damage to the church and how long the site had been in poor condition. It’s been said all along that it’s a bailout of my opportunist. It was really touch and go due to construction breakdown, asbestos, and all kinds of issues like that. “

One of the fourteen Cross Stations by sculptor Leo Summers, which was commissioned to the cathedral in 2000, was vandalized while another painting was damaged during removal, but the others were safely in storage. Plaques commemorating the philanthropists and the centenary of the diocese were also recovered.

Doocey said that, wherever possible, items of liturgical use – such as the ornate beast stand recovered from a safe room within the church, along with crosses and decorative objects – would be cleaned or restored and used. “It makes more sense for them to be outside and in use – they don’t belong far away.”

Items on a time capsule commemorating events and activities from the Cathedral’s centenary celebrations in 1987 Photo: Triona Dossi / Christchurch Catholic Parish

Items that were too damaged or too expensive to be repaired, or not worth keeping, will be handed over to the Canterbury Museum or parish parishioners in consultation with the bishop, or displayed in the new cathedral to honor the old – considered the best work of architect Francis Peter.

1980s time capsules have been discovered containing messages about Christchurch residents’ personal attachment to the church, which Doce plans to digitally convert for an exhibition later this year.

She also hopes to be able to restore the nativity scene – which was found with her heads beheaded, apparently by vandals – using the Japanese kintsugi technique, in which broken pottery is returned with notches marked with gold.

“I thought it would be a great way to tell the story on every birthday without needing to be explicit … the cracks will show the damage done by both the earthquakes and humanity.”

The three bishops buried under the floor of a side church will be separated in May, while the demolition work is expected to be completed by the middle of the year. A site has been designated for a new cathedral on Avenue Armagh (although construction was delayed due to the rare seagulls that established a colony there).

Meanwhile, Doocey is still hoping for the lost angels to return to the congregation: “It’d be really nice to know what happened to them.”

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