Church prepares for dawn masses

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Sunday, December 15, 2013


THE Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño prepares for a huge number of churchgoers for the nine-day Misa de Gallo that will start tomorrow.

This, as the area near the church facade and belfry were still off-limits to the public yesterday.

The belfry was destroyed during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol last Oct. 15.

Basilica Rector Fr. Jonas Mijares said that this is for the safety of the public.

But for the dawn masses, Fr. Mijares said, a portion of the cordoned area will be open.

“As expected in different churches, the first day of the dawn mass will be attended by a huge number of church goers. That is why we need bigger space,” said Fr. Mijares in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Tomorrow’s mass at the basilica will start at 4:30 a.m. with Mijares as celebrant.

Heritage preservation and restoration experts are still studying the damaged facade and belfry of the church.

Mijares said Japanese heritage restoration experts will examine the foundation of the belfry.

The restoration phase of the damaged church has yet to start.

Collapse

“What was seen was just securing the damaged structure. We need to make sure that it will not collapse,” said Mijares.

The National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA), Skwela Talyer (a group of architects), and church administrators will meet today to discuss the restoration project.

“The workers must be skilled and trained to handle the restoration,” said Mijares.

Aside from the facade and belfry, the church’s stone fence along Osmeña Blvd. will also be restored.

Fr. Mijares said the top portion of the belfry will no longer be restored.

He said they plan to display it inside the church compound for the public to see the destruction caused by the Oct. 15 earthquake.

Too heavy

“It is too heavy and we cannot assure that the old structure that experts will restore can hold it,” said Fr. Mijares.

It weighs an estimated seven tons.

Mijares said the damage has attracted local and foreign tourists.

“According to our security personnel, they noted an increase in the number of people coming in,” Fr. Mijares said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 15, 2013.

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