Churches of La Asunción and San Francisco de Borja nearly destroyed.
Newsdesk (October 19, 2020, Gaudium Press) — For the Church in Chile, yesterday’s events are shocking and threatening. Demonstrators burned two historical churches in Santiago’s downtown.
Around 6 pm, firemen took emergency calls alerting them on a fire inside Assumption Church. They were already attempting to quench another arson taking place in the nearby Church of San Francisco de Borja, a chapel of the Chilean Carabineros corps.
When Firemen were approaching the area, the firetrucks were attacked with stones: “We had to withdraw because the conditions were not safe for the firemen. Being insight of the fire, we could not do our job, we had to withdraw until the area was safe,” said a Fire Department spokesman.
At the Church of the Assumption, demonstrators prevented the action of the firemen. Half an hour was enough time for the flames to do their devastating work. Since then, some dramatic images have traveled around the world: the tower of this historical temple, falling in flames; a video of one of the attacking women, inside the temple, shouting: ‘The only church that illuminates is the one that burns’; a protestor tearing down a large image of the church’s front.
Attacked churches: nearly destroyed
In addition to the destruction of the tower of the Assumption Church, the entire ceiling with its paintings has been lost; the state of the bells under the rubble has not yet been assessed; most of the stained glass windows have been destroyed. Part of the furniture was looted to establish barricades. The front of the temple was stained with graffiti. This temple, inaugurated in 1876, had already undergone damages during last year’s demonstrations when the statues had been vandalized; but the damages had been minor or minimall compared to yesterday’s attack.
San Francisco de Borja church had “the oldest stained glass windows in Chile, and that was lost yesterday”, said the Undersecretary of Patrimony, Emilio de la Cerda. They were of French origin, signed in 1875, in the Bordeaux workshop of Gustave-Pierre Dagrant. Attackers took pictures while burning religious images.