A new discovery of evidence of the first church at a time of crisis is prompting a rethinking of the Catholic church.
The church is now on a “recovery” path, with new and renewed churches emerging in places that once were abandoned, says Francis Martens, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Church History.
In this image provided by the National Geographic Society, the St. Peters Church in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Martens says the new church, built in the mid-1700s, may be the first to be “relocated” from a former location.
The church, which stands in the middle of Canterbury’s historic town, was built on an abandoned site and had its main church tower torn down, which made way for a new one.
Martins, who is also a researcher for the Institute for Archaeological Research, says this church was built in a “post-Christian era.”
It was founded in the 1780s by a Christian minister, John Walsingham, and a former Anglican priest, Peter Whitaker, both of whom had recently converted to Catholicism.
In the 18th century, the town was the home of the New Zealand First Church, which preached an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, anti–anti-British ideology.
The New Zealand branch of the Anglican Church was formed by a merger between the Anglicans and the Anglicareans.
Martensen says the church’s early history is a “historical record” that “shows us that the church is always evolving, adapting and changing.”
The Canterbury church, the first in the region, was founded by Walsham and Whitaker in 1780 and was the first Catholic church in New Zealand, Martens says.
Martents team is using the church as an example to show that Christianity in the 1800s was not the religion of a particular group of people.
He says this story is a window into the history of Christianity in New England, but it is not representative of the history that the majority of New Zealanders will be familiar with.
Martains team is working with a new team of researchers, led by researcher Andrew Wills, who specializes in archaeology at the Canterbury Museum, to reconstruct a church from a site that is now part of a new archaeological park.
Martends team is building the church from scratch, including the original timber and brick buildings, and will then use this new building as a template for the construction of other churches.
This image provided to National Geographic by the Canterbury Archaeological Project shows a view of the St Peters Church from the side.
Martens said the church had been built from the ground up and was one of only two buildings from the early 1800s that had its roof and top of the church removed.
The new church will be an important part of the project, which includes reconstructing other buildings from around the city that will then be transported to a new site in the Canterbury area, Martins says.
The project is funded by a grant from the Department of Conservation.
Martuns team is also working with the Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to research and document other local churches.
This includes a church in St Peters, built during the period between 1720 and 1740, that was the only Catholic church that still stands in Canterbury today.
The team hopes to reconstruct the original structure and the new one will serve as a valuable resource for future church restoration efforts.
Martines team has also published a book, “Reopening Canterbury,” to celebrate the church.