& # 39; The people here are heartbroken & # 39 ;: the church in Texas, which would celebrate its 125th birthday, has been DESTROYED in a fast-moving flame
- The Monday fire-flooded church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas
- It is said that the Catholic church house served 500 parishioners
- Wooden structure completely destroyed by eruption, visible for miles
- The tabernacle and a statue of the Virgin Mary were saved by the locals
Heartache parishioners floated through the ashes of a 125-year-old church that was burned down Monday by a rapidly spreading fire in central Texas.
The Church of Visitation in Westphalia, which had about 500 members and was believed to be the largest wooden structure west of the Mississippi River, was destroyed by the fire on Monday morning.
Locals could save the tabernacle, but almost everything else was lost, KWTX TV reported.
A statue of the Virgin Mary with rosary also survived the fire, KXXV TV reported.
The Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas goes up in flames on Monday morning
According to witnesses, smoke from the fire was reportedly visible for miles
The wooden structure was completely destroyed in the fast-moving fire (as seen in the image above)
"(It is) extremely difficult and painful to be here," said Joe Vasquez, bishop of the diocese of Austin.
"I was very touched by this and I know that people here are deeply saddened," he said.
Vasquez said the historic church had both religious and symbolic significance.
"This architectural beauty is now a loss and that is what all of us here mourn," he said.
The fire took place when church members were busy planning events on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the church.
Firefighters are seen extinguishing the flames after the church was burned to the ground on Monday
One of the church bells is seen among the rubble left behind by the fire on Monday
The inhabitant of Westphalia, Marvin Meyer, looks over the remains of the church on Monday
The church served around 500 parishioners, according to the diocese of Austin
Firefighters responded early on Monday morning, but it was too late.
The sanctuary was flooded with flames and smoke was visible at a distance.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal & # 39; s Office started collecting evidence from the scene. So far there is no word about what caused the fire.
Westfalen, a city about 35 miles south of Waco, was inhabited by German and Catholic migrants in the early 19th century.
The construction of the church began for the first time in 1894. The building had a symmetrical facade with two twin 80-foot bell towers covered with copper-clad domes and Maltese crosses.
The construction of the church began for the first time in 1894. The building had a symmetrical façade with two twin 80-foot bell towers covered with copper clad domes and Maltese crosses
The building also had 20 gothic stained glass windows and shingles on a fish scale. The largest window, behind the main altar, depicted the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin
The building also had 20 gothic stained glass windows and shingles on a fish scale.
The largest window, behind the main altar, depicted the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin.
The church was designed to remind the locals of the architecture that was popular in the Westphalia region of Germany.
In recent decades, both the state and federal governments have recognized the church as a historic monument.
In the Christian tradition, the Visitation is the visit of St. Mary to St. Elizabeth, while the first was pregnant with Jesus and the last would have the birth of John the Baptist.
The event is described in the gospel of Luke, one of the four canonical gospels of the New Testament.
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