May 4th, 2010
09:14 AM ET

In Haiti, much was shattered - but not faith

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) - At 72, Estenio Coutois is frail and almost blind, but he travels from northern Port-au-Prince  to the central city each Sunday to pray at the cathedral.

Without fail.

“I have been coming here since I was a little boy,” he says.

On this Sunday, the sun beats down on him outside the shockingly damaged Cathedral Notre Dame. It was one of the many historic landmarks that crumbled when a massive earthquake struck on January 12.

Since then, the faithful have gathered on its grounds for Sunday mass.

“It is so painful to stand before this cathedral,” Coutois says.

He can’t see it well anymore, but he knows it is gone.

When he first heard the news of its destruction, he felt that the little life he had left in him vanished.

It was like the despair felt from losing a mother or father.

He explains that his sisters died in the quake. So did a niece. He lost much of what he had.

Except his faith in God.

So he makes the arduous trek from his home every Sunday to stand here before the devastated church. It is his recharge for the week ahead.

In the small park, women sit with their babies wrapped in white linen to guard against the heat. Older women hold umbrellas with one hand, the other extended skyward. Some people carry plastic chairs on their heads so they can sit comfortably under a shady tree.

Yvrose Simon was baptized here, sat in a pew every Sunday, celebrated Christmas and Easter. She says she is one of thousands who still show up to pray in front of the carcass of their beloved cathedral.

It’s as though the roof never caved in, the walls never disintegrated.

Their faith was not shattered.

- CNN's Enterprise Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith • Houses of worship

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