Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Barbadoes Street, Christchurch.
Sydenham, Canterbury
The masterpiece of F W Petre, this is regarded as the finest High Renaissance building in New Zealand. It features a great dome, centred over the sanctuary.
It was begun in 1901 after an international fundraising effort in the 1890s by Bishop Grimes, Christchurch's first Catholic Bishop. Petre was commissioned as he was the architect of Wellington's new Sacred Heart Basilica. It is believed he took inspiration from Cathedrals in London and Paris.

Its grand proportions were for some time under appreciated due to the small size of the Catholic congregation in Christchurch and its location near the Railway yards and Gasworks in Sydenham.

The Cathedral was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake. It's ingenious construction, of lightweight concrete overlaid with Oamaru Stone, proved to be the undoing of the structure.
The bell towers fell, most of the facade and the sanctuary disintegrated and and only the central rectangular nave remained damaged but standing after all the earthquakes. The Italianate Copper dome was removed and set aside while, Bishop Cuneen announcing it appeared as if the entire Cathedral was fit for demolition.

In May 2015 the diocese announced that, following several years of testing and modelling, it believed it could save the nave of the Cathedral including it's ceiling. Other parts of the Cathedral which have been badly damaged will be demolished. The process was set to take at least four years with the first year and $1-2m dedicated to removing the parts of the cathedral which were now rubble. The argument for starting the process at this point was that weather and plant growth were starting to further compromise what was left.


F W Petre
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