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Earthquake damages National Cathedral

August 23, 2011 |  3:10 pm

National_cathedral_damaged

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Coast today also damaged one of Washington's architectural treasures, the National Cathedral.

The cathedral,  a popular stop for visitors to the nation's capital, is closed while authorities inspect the damage.

The damage occurred at the cathedral's "Gloria in Excelsis" central tower. Three of four pinnacles, or corner spires, on the central tower suffered damages, according to a statement released to the media, and three finials (capstones shaped like fleurs-de-lys) snapped off. 

"Similar decorative elements on the cathedral's exterior also appear to be damaged. Cracks have appeared in the flying buttresses around the apse at the cathedral's east end, the first portion of the building to be constructed, but the buttresses supporting the central tower seem to be sound," says the statement.

There has been no damage reported to the stained-glass windows.

PHOTOS: Earthquake hits the East Coast

"The cathedral structure was damaged in today's earthquake," Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III said in the statement to the media, "but we are thankful that no injuries have occurred. Our prayers go out now for all those up and down the East Coast who have been similarly affected by this rare event."

The cathedral is a landmark both for its spiritual symbolism and its architecture. Constructed in 14th century English "perpendicular" Gothic style, it is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second largest such church in the United States. It was constructed between 1907 and 1990, and underwent a restoration after completion to address lightning damage.

It sits on Mount St. Alban, which gives it greater height on the horizon than the Washington Monument.

"We urge all friends of this spiritual home for the nation to visit our website, www.nationalcathedral.org, to learn more about the damage and upcoming efforts to make repairs," the press statement also said.

RELATED:

5.9 earthquake jolts East Coast

Wha?!? East Coast reacts with shock to earthquake

Earthquake may be strongest in central Virginia history

-- Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo: Police tape keeps the public away from the National Cathedral after an earthquake damaged and snapped off several of the cathedral's decorative elements. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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