(The Press) Parallels between Christchurch and U.S. cathedrals

The Loma Prieta earthquake tore through northern California in 1989, shaking the ground for 10 to 15 seconds, killing 63 people and doing extensive damage to bridges, roads and buildings. Much of the worst damage was in built-up areas around San Francisco Bay, including Oakland.

This could be sounding like a familiar story by now. One of the casualties was a 96-year-old Gothic brick church, the Catholic diocese of Oakland’s Cathedral of St Francis De Sales. Rather than simply rebuild, the diocese opted to be even more radical: it built a new cathedral on an entirely new site. In 2008, the Cathedral of Christ the Light opened on the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt and it is already regarded as one of the greatest of contemporary church buildings.

It has been called the first cathedral to be built in the 21st century, and that has become a symbolic value as well as a chronological fact. It says to others that this is the future of church buildings.

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