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Fire destroys 125-year-old Texas church known for stunning towers and stained glass

A 125-year-old church in central Texas burned to the ground on Monday.

The Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas, completed in 1895, caught fire Monday morning, KBTX reported. A pillar of smoke could be seen from five miles away.

Members of the community were able to rescue the tabernacle, home to the Blessed Sacrament, as the Catholic church burned, KWTX reported.

Crews from more than 10 area fire departments were on the scene to fight the blaze, KXXV reported.

The Austin Diocese called the church a “total loss,” KEYE reported.

The church boasted a Latin-cross design, with two bell towers flanking a nine-foot cross, according to the church’s website. During its construction, 20 stained glass windows were shipped in from Germany depicting important biblical persons and scenes such as the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin and the Archangel Michael.

A dome was added in 1914 along with a pipe organ in 1921, which was still used during services, according to the website. The church, among the largest wooden churches in Texas, received a Texas Historic Marker in 1978.

“This architectural beauty is now a loss and that’s what saddens all of us here,” Joe Vasquez, Bishop of the Austin Diocese, said, according to KWTX.

The Texas State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, KWKT reported.

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Dawson covers goings-on across the central region, from breaking to bizarre. She is an MSt candidate at the University of Cambridge and lives in Kansas City.
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