By David Ramos
Lava from the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands destroyed the church of Saint Pius X in the Todoque neighborhood in the town of Llanos de Aridane on the afternoon of Sept. 26.
Firefighters were hoping to divert the flow of the lava from away from the church, but were unsuccessful.
The volcano began erupting Sept.19. The previous eruption on the island was in 1971.
According to the local press, the lava, which had stopped its flow in the area, resumed its advance towards the sea, about a mile and a quarter away, engulfing the Catholic church and other buildings in its path. You watch the destruction unfold in the video below.
Thousands of people have been evacuated and there have been no human casualties so far. The eruption is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage
Anticipating the possible destruction of the church which lay in the path of the lava flow, a few days ago the pastor of St. Pius X, Father Alberto Hernández, with the help of workers, removed everything possible from the interior of the church including statues, paintings, crucifixes, and the tabernacle.
In a recent statement to the Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa & Omega, Fr. Hernández said that in the face of the misfortune in the region he can only “weep with those who weep” over so much destruction.
Those affected by the lava flow, he said, “are humble, simple, hard-working people, including farmers and some officials. People who had built their own houses and who made their living from the land. Let us trust that the authorities will respond and aid will arrive.”
However, he stressed, the residents “are people of faith,” adding that “when I called the neighbor closest to the volcano – 200 meters (650 ft) – to check on him, he told me: ‘The house will be lost, but we’re alive and it’s a miracle we’re alive.’
“Faith,” the pastor said, “is fundamental.”