The wildfires that have devastated the Hawaiian island of Maui are among the deadliest in over a century, with 96 confirmed deaths and an expected increase in the death toll.
The fires have destroyed thousands of acres of land and caused an estimated $5.5 billion worth of damage to Lahaina, KHON-TV reported.
Despite this tragedy, one historic structure remains standing defiantly amidst the ash and ruin in downtown Lahaina.
It appears that Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, established by Fr. Aubert of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus in 1846, has been spared from the worst destruction caused by the smoke and flames.
Viral footage taken out front shows that while its surroundings have been reduced to smoldering verges, collapsed buildings, and immolated trees, the church remains largely untouched.
USA Today reported that this modern stone structure was completed in 1873 after its original adobe building with grass hut chapels had been constructed some 27 years earlier.
Msgr. Terrence Watanabe, pastor of St. Anthony’s, reported to the Pillar that the historic church Maria Lanakila (Our Lady of Victory) in Lahaina Town was spared from a destructive fire that consumed the rest of the town.
Serving between 700 and 800 families, this church is rumored to have artwork gifted by King Kalakaua or his sister Queen Liliuokalani.
While the rectory appears to have sustained some damage, Sacred Hearts School had its roof torn off.
“For us, it’s like a miracle,” Watanabe told the Star Advertiser. “When we saw the news and saw the church steeple rise above the town, it was a great sight to see.”
“May She be the beacon of hope…to help the rest of the community,” said parishioner Jeffrey Chang, reported the New York Post.
The pastor of the Waiola Church, Fr. Kuriakose Nadooparambil, has indicated that all of his staff have been able to escape the fire unscathed and find a temporary residence with members of the Catholic community in Central Maui.
Sadly, the church itself was not so fortunate, having been completely destroyed in the fire.
Anela Rosa, a lay minister of Waiola Church, shared with USA Today the devastating news that the church has been completely destroyed.
The church, which celebrated its 200th anniversary in May and is the final resting place of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s royal family, as noted on their website, lost its social hall, sanctuary and annex.
Here is an image of the incredible scene: