Fate of Christchurch’s Catholic cathedral slowly becomes clearer

While still awaiting several engineering reports, and with new ones being requested, work on finalising the future of the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament continues.

The Cathedral Management Board has met with Don Miskell, principal of Boffa Miskell, the lead company in a consortium of businesses that will design the central city rebuild, and discussed the place of the Basilica in the new plan, the church’s strong links with the city and the future of the area surrounding the Basilica.

With 20,000 people expected to be living within the four avenues over the next 30 years, and the close proximity of the eastern green belt, it is important to understand the face of the new city.

One option that is gaining traction is the retention of the north and western walls of the Basilica as a memorial.

These can be braced and made safe and stand as a reminder of the magnificent building that stood on the site for over a century. The diocese could then talk to the owners of the adjacent former convent site about building a new Cathedral in that area. This is only an option, as there is still need to understand the soil and underlying status of the possible site.

If, in the end, the advice received is that it is impossible to rebuild the Basilica on the present site, the Board has agreed to recommend to Bishop Jones that a relic of the Cathedral will be left, which will be protected and preserved, as a memory of the earthquakes. Honorary Cathedral Architect Simon Pascoe is preparing a report, with the Bishop having the final decision.


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