The cathedral of St. John the Baptist has stood in the historic district of Savannah for more than a century, offering thousands a grand but solemn sanctuary in which to worship. During today's standoff, the cathedral did sustain some damage.
In 2000, the cathedral reopened its doors after a multimillion dollar restoration. The pews were filled with parishioners, and the choir full of song as Bishop Kevin Boland entered the church, preparing to give the first mass after the reopening.
And now just three years later, church members spent the afternoon cleaning where Bishop Boland has stood so many times.
"It's tragic to think, the building is so beautiful," said Bishop Boland. "People made sacrifices to put it in the beautiful shape it's in."
The beautiful building was filled with smoke today, possibly ruining the recolored murals, and the pulpit where the bishop relayed his message of God to thousands is now gone. "It had symbols of evangelists that were carved in Italy in 2000," said Father Douglas Clark. "It's just ruined."
And that might not be the only damage. The sound system and lights were tied into the pulpit and may also be ruined.
Despite the fire, the church held its noon mass downstairs, thankful that no one was hurt. "All the damage was done to newly crafted materials, but it can be replaced," said the bishop.
Father Clark adds they will have mass on Sunday, but they have not decided yet whether it will be in the main cathedral or the downstairs.