Philippines quake damages Church treasures

Major building damage

Catholics wept in the Philippines after a deadly earthquake yesterday rocked the birthplace of Catholicism in the country, badly damaging the country's oldest church and leaving other historic places of worship in ruins, reports AFP on Yahoo7.

Ten churches, some of which have crucial links to the earliest moments of the Spanish colonial and Catholic conquest in the 1500s, were damaged as the 7.1-magnitude quake struck the central islands of Cebu and Bohol.

"It is like part of the body of our country has been destroyed," Michael Charleston "Xiao" Chua, a history lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP.

He said the damage was particularly painful because the Philippines had already lost so many of its cultural treasures to war, typhoons, earthquakes and poverty-driven neglect.

In Cebu, shocked devotees said prayers as they gathered in front of the Basilica Minore de Santo Nino (Basilica of the Child Jesus), the oldest church in the Philippines and home to one of the country's most important religious icons.

The limestone bell tower of the church, the latest version of which was built in 1735, was destroyed in the quake. "I wanted to seek sanctuary here but it turns out the church was damaged," Fraulein Muntag, 32, a mother of two, told AFP as she wept and prayed the rosary at the site.

Photo: Damage to the facade of the Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu City

FULL COVERAGE

Devotees weep after quake damages Philippine treasures (Yahoo7)

Quake kills at least 68 in Philippines (Ucanews)

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