The Churches of Antarctica

In an article in Vice, Brian Merchant argues that the first structure that humans will probably build on Moon after they have completed building a base there will be a church. Indeed, Christian missionaries and clergymen have built churches in the most harshest of climes, whether they be the tropical jungles of Africa or the sun-drenched deserts of Australia. When the Ross Sea Party of Shackleton's Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917 landed in Antarctica, among the men was an Anglican priest named Arnold Spencer-Smith. Spencer-Smith set up a small chapel in a darkroom in Scott's Hut at Cape Evans. He built an altar with cross and candlesticks and an aumbry where he reserved the Blessed Sacrament. Spencer-Smith recorded in his diary that he celebrated Eucharist and also heard confession on the continent.

Since the 1950s several churches have been erected in Antarctica. Extended stays in the region can be an extremely stressful experience for the researchers who often stay separated from their families for months at a time, which is one of the reasons why churches exist in this remote continent. Today, there are eight churches in Antarctica.

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Chapel of the Snows at McMurdo Station. Photo: Tsy1980/Wikimedia


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