Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 25 February |
Saint of the Day: St. Toribio Romo González
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Fire leaves historic Texas church in ashes, deemed “total loss”

CHURCH OF VISITATION

Vern Six | YouTube | Fair Use

J-P Mauro - published on 07/31/19

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin Diocese has already vowed to rebuild.

The 500 members of the congregation of the Church of Visitation in Westphalia, Texas, are mourning the loss of their 124-year-old house of worship, after a devastating fire leveled the building early Monday morning.

shows gigantic plumes of fire rising from the center of the building, which caused the bell towers to crumble. Statesman reports that fire marshals have begun an investigation into the origin of the fire, but as of yet have not indicated what caused the blaze.

While visiting the site of the catastrophe, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of the Austin Diocese said:

“I am saddened for the people of Westphalia who have suffered this tremendous loss. I am grateful for all the firefighters and departments that responded to the fire. Please join me in keeping the people of this historic parish in your prayers today as they try to piece together this tragedy.”

KWTX reports that parishioners were able to run into the building and save the tabernacle, along with the Blessed Sacrament, before the fire grew too intense. Unfortunately, they were unable to take anything else out of the building which was once considered one of the largest wooden structures west of the Mississippi River.

The fire came about 7 months before the parish was to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Church of Visitation. According to their website, the building contained 20 stained glass windows, which were brought over with German settlers in the 1800s. These pieces of the community’s history are forever lost.

Before the smoke had stopped rising from the ruined church, Bishop Vásquez vowed to rebuild the Church of Visitation. He said:

“I think, yes, we have to rebuild. With the great tradition of this place, there is too much that we can’t abandon. This is a place that means so much to people. People brought their children to be baptized here. They were married here. They celebrated the sacraments here. They were buried from this church. There is a great love and tradition at this church.”
Tags:
CatholicChurchHistory
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
3
500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY
J-P Mauro
A song to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines
4
MADONNA
V. M. Traverso
The 9 oldest images of Mary
5
RECONSTRUCTED CHRIST
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
6
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Padre Pio says this is a sin that’s difficult to forgive &#...
7
Palm Sunday
Philip Kosloski
10 Lenten traditions you might see at Mass
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.