What matters more, of course, are the lives lost. But it's always symbolic when an earthquake destroys -- or in this case, half destroys -- a cathedral, because there are few buildings more solid. Reports suggest that the 150-year-old Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch has been severely damaged in Tuesday's earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, which have killed at least 65.
According to the Christian Science Monitor:
The New Zealand earthquake leveled a number of central offices, wiped out iconic landmarks, and destroyed many homes, leaving parts of the picturesque cityscape – now swathed in dust and gas vapors – "unlivable." Local media is full of accounts of people trapped in damaged buildings, and residents of Christchurch have been told to evacuate, as no area is considered safe at this time.
Among the multiple casualties were an unknown number of foreign nationals, staying a city hostel that caters to the younger cohort of the hundreds of thousands of international visitors who arrive each year in the country's distinctly Anglican locale. The centrally-located Christchurch Cathedral has long served as the city's most visible icon.
Today, that 110-year-old cathedral's looming spire, too, collapsed.