12 January 2010




An extraordinary earthquake has destroyed much of central Haiti (see below).

Though the full story of loss of life can never be known, nor the many individual

stories of the people there, all who have experienced Haiti in some way,

whether resident or visitor, are immensely distressed that its strong

but impoverished people have suffered yet another horrible tragedy.


As a surgeon,  I visited Haiti annually from 1981 to 1996, primarily

at Hopital Sainte Croix, Leogane, a few kilometers west of the epicenter.

(Its inpatient services had been closed before the disaster).


All of my visits brought me into contact with outreach programs of the

Episcopal Church of Haiti -- It is for that reason that here I have focused

on facilities I then knew well, and regularly visited. Yet,  this is

only a small sample of the effects on the people and the country

at large, in all walks of life, of many faith groups, 
and on many types of helping programs.


The very strong lingering impression and continuing influence

on my own life is what I learned there of the power of spirit in
the lives of the people,  whose resilience and inner strength must now
carry them through yet another crisis.


One of the most striking expressions of that spirit was contained in the

artwork of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity,  now destroyed. It is already

evident in the news coverage that the spirit of Haiti has not been destroyed,

but will prevail. Hopefully that spirit will come to be recognized by many

other people,  too,  as helping visitors pour into the country to assist

in many ways to meet the desperate need.


 About a dozen years ago I posted some material related to HaitiÕs personal

contributions to my own spirit, as I sought to understand the often

paradoxical relationships between spirit and Ņreal-worldÓ life.


The Art of Sainte Trinite

 and related articles are re-posted now as a tribute to the Haitian spirit, and as

a reminder that all of us on the planet need inner resources as well as

physical ones,  as we continue to contend with the many forces which

daily threaten destruction.



The main Art of Sainte Trinite site, linked above, contains a large number
of high-quality images in a PDF file, divided into three parts.  It will load slowly,
even on some high-speed connections. I hope you will find the experience worth the wait.

Notes re downloading and preview

A low-resolution preview version.



Donivan Bessinger, 14 Jan 2010




Scriptorium Articles about Haiti

Spirit and Shadow , Haitian Mythology , Haitian History
The Episcopal Church in Haiti , The Art of Sainte Trinite






Preliminary report of damage, Episcopal Church facilities, Haiti Earthquake 2010


An earthquake of magnitude 7 struck the capital of Haiti and surrounds on 12 January 2010, leaving stunning devastation over a very wide region, with heavy loss of life. The epicenter was about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, in the heavily congested Carrefour area, at 4:53 p.m. local time, and was followed immediately by aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude, and many smaller ones. A week later, an aftershock of 6.1 was recorded.


The earthquake destroyed Cathˇdrale Sainte Trinitˇ (Holy Trinity Cathedral), the Episcopal diocesan cathedral in Port-au-Prince [which was about halfway between the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the National Palace in central Port-au-Prince, both of which were also destroyed.] 


The Holy Trinity School complex adjacent to the cathedral was destroyed as was the diocese's Couvent Sainte Marguerite and College Saint Pierre. An early report said that the sisters at the convent were not hurt.


St. VincentÕs School for the Handicapped (in central Port-au-Prince, unique in the country) suffered significant damage, and students are being relocated. [see Childrens Medical Missions for Haiti ]


The main building of Hopital Sainte Croix of Leogane (a few km. west of Carrefour) sustained major damage.  A visitor residence survived and is serving as a medical clinic [see CMMH link above] A subsequent report indicated that 90% of buildings in Leogane are collapsed.


Ecole Le Bon Samaritan, in Carrefour, was destroyed, but the children were not at the school when the quake hit.


Four people were killed by the earthquake during an Episcopal church service in Trouin, about 23 miles southwest of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. Episcopal churches were also destroyed in Grand Colline (a mountainous region between Leogane and Grand-Goave) and St. Etienne (another mountainous region about 45 miles from Port-au-Prince)


Haiti Bishop Jean Zachˇ Duracin's home was destroyed in the earthquake and his wife sustained a foot injury. Duracin was not injured in the earthquake.


- - - -


Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States,  Katharine Jefferts Schori, called for prayers and contributions to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD).


The Episcopal Church in Haiti relates to the Anglican Communion as one of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church's 12 overseas dioceses, a part of Province II. It has partnerships with many U.S. Episcopal Church dioceses and congregations. The diocese of Haiti serves between 100,000 and 150,000 people in 168 congregations. There are less than 40 active clergy, most of whom serve multiple congregations in urban and rural areas.


In addition to the churches, the diocese's ministry has included 254 schools; medical clinics; a renowned philharmonic orchestra and children's choir based at the cathedral; agricultural, reforestation and other development projects and micro-financing efforts run in part with help from ERD; peace and reconciliation work, including the Desmond Tutu Center for Reconciliation and Peace and non-violence training provided by Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF).



[ Information extracted from the Episcopal News Service post of 21:30,  13 January 2010,

supplemented by broadcast and other web sources. ]