The church of Our Lady and St Wilfrid, at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Crispian Hollis, sent the following message to ICN last night. 'I was, of course, shocked and upset to hear of the fire at Our Lady and St Wilfrid's Church in Ventnor. On hearing of the fire, my first reaction was to enquire if there were any casualties. Fortunately, it appears that the church was empty when the fire broke out, and none of the fire fighters were injured. This is more important than the loss of a church. My heart goes out to Fr Claro and the Ventnor Catholic community. They have lost the church which for over 130 years has been their place of worship and the hub of Catholic activity in the Ventnor area. It is too soon yet to comment on the exact details of the loss, or on the cause of the fire. We will have to await the outcome of the Fire Service investigation. We will be making alternative arrangements for services and parish activities in the near future. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service for dealing with the fire. I am sure that the Catholic Community of Ventnor will cope with the sad loss of their Church. They will not have to deal with this on their own, they will have the support of the Diocese and of the Isle of Wight Pastoral Area team.' The church of Our Lady & St Wilfrid, Trinity Road, Ventnor was a Grade ii listed building, opened in 1871.
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