A historic Lahaina Catholic church has miraculously remained untouched amid the devastating Maui wildfires that have killed at least 96 people.
“Maria Lanakila is still standing”: In a viral video of the Hawaiian town of Lahaina, the Maria Lanakila Catholic Church stands unscathed amid rubble and fallen branches.
“Basically what we know is the fact that all of Lahaina Town has been consumed by fire. It’s all gone. The church, Maria Lanakila, is still standing, as is the rectory,” Msgr. Terrence Watanabe, pastor of the nearby parish of St. Anthony’s, told The Pillar.
About the church: The church was founded in 1846 after Catholic priests arrived in Maui. The current church was built on the foundation of the original in 1927. In the Hawaiian language, Maria Lanakila means “Victorious Mary,” or “Our Lady of Victory.”
On Sunday, parishioners of the church reportedly gathered about 10 miles from the building to attend a mass, where they prayed for the victims and gave thanks for the church’s survival.
Divine intervention: Many local and international viewers of the viral video expressed their shock, hailing the miracle as an act of divine intervention.
“A def sign from God. He is with you all. Hold on and keep the faith. We are all praying for all of you!” a TikTok user wrote.
“It’s not only saved, it’s UNTOUCHED. So incredible,” another user said.
“Wow. God continues to give signs even during the storm,” another user commented.
Death toll: Over the weekend, the death toll climbed to 96, an uptick from NextShark’s previous reporting of 55. Loss of life is expected to rise further as many residents are still unaccounted for. Search teams continue to look for remains in the areas affected by the wildfires.
“This is the largest natural disaster we’ve ever experienced. It’s going to also be a natural disaster that’s going to take an incredible amount of time to recover from,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said at a news conference on Saturday night, noting that “the losses approach $6 billion.”
The Lahaina wildfire is 85% contained and the Upcountry fire is 60% contained as of Sunday afternoon. The recent wildfires are reportedly the deadliest in the nation in more than a century, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s research.