“It’s standing.” tweeted a local regarding the Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in LaHaina, Maui,. The tweet was at 8:22pm, Wednesday evening, August 9, after a horrific fast-moving wildfire had literally wiped out the whole town around the parish. “See the steeple and cross rising above Lahaina in the background here…” (see Tweet photo to right, Church steeple seen in left 1/3 of photo)
By Friday, August 11, with the Island’s wildfire death toll now at a very sad 55 (so far) and the shock of what had just happened in the last 36 hours still fresh, “The Miracle in LaHaina” was confirmed: LaHaina’s beloved parish church is still standing strong—against all odds—amid the utter devastation surrounding it; a much-needed miracle testimony of HOPE and endurance.
History Highlights of Maria Lanakila parish
Maria Lanakila, which means Our Lady of Victory, is located in downtown Lahaina, which is the Cradle of Faith on the island of Maui. The Church was established in 1846 by Father Aubert of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus. It was officially dedicated on September 8, 1858.
On May 4, 1873, the stone church that stands today was completed under Father Leonore. This structure replaced the old adobe building and grass hut chapels that originally served the community of Maria Lanakila.
In 1918, Fr. Bruno renewed the original walls of Maria Lanakila Church, making improvements and enlargements to the original stone structure. Under Father Rudolph, it was renovated further, including the cleaning and rehanging of the Church’s paintings. These paintings bear some mystery, and are thought to be the gift of some Alii, but no one knows for sure. They were possibly gifts from King Kalakaua or his sister, Queen Liliuokalani.
The bells of Maria Lanakila have a story of their own. The original set of bells never made it to Lahaina, as they were lost in South America on their way from France. The second set of bells, which were inscribed with the name of Maria Lanakila, made it as far as Hilo, and remained there. The third set of bells finally made it, and are the ones that call parishioners to Mass today.
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