St Alphonse Church in Luxembourg City is closed until further notice following structural concerns
Photo: Jess Bauldry
A popular English language Catholic church in the capital has been forced to close its doors because of structural subsidence, thought to have been caused by the recent heatwave.
A day after the mercury rose to 40°C for the first time in the grand duchy, a cleaner at St Alphonse church found the tiles had been pushed up in a ridge across the centre of the floor. Police came to the church followed by engineers.
“Our main priority is the safety of the building which is why insurance said close the building. It’s going to be closed at least some weeks, maybe months,” English language priest Father Ed Hone told Delano on Monday, adding: “It’s the extreme heat.”
Father Ed and the other priests now face the challenge of finding alternative locations large enough for their services, no easy feat considering the church can accommodate up to 2,000 people over any given weekend.
“A lot of people are affected,” Father Ed said, adding: “The English-speaking community alone is 1,000 people a weekend when we have three services. There’s also the French-speaking and German-speaking communities and there are different things like concerts and different groups that meet.”
Raised floor tiles show where the floor has been pushed up. Photo: Jess Bauldry
Last weekend, the services were temporarily hosted at the Church of Marie in Bonnevoie and weekday masses, which attract smaller crowds, were held in the convent. One service was held in the garden courtyard of the church.
St Alphonse was constructed in 1843 by Redemptorist Fathers on land that previously belonged the Capucins order. They constructed the church, a convent and stables. According to Father Ed, the church was last refurbished during the 1960s. Work was recently completed on the convent and the church was next on the list for renovations. St Alphonse is today part of the Redemptorists order within the Luxembourg City diocese.
Father Ed Hone is pictured outside St Alphonse Church on 29 July 2019. Photo: Jess Bauldry
In addition to disrupting services, Father Ed added that the closure would impact people who are not necessarily members of the congregation. “It’s always open which is why it’s such a significant loss,” he said. “All day people come in just to sit in the quiet. If they’ve problems they come in to light candles. There are always hundreds of candles in the church, morning until night.”
For further updates on locations of services, check the website www.catholic.lu