Long before its ground started heaving, Haiti was already a byword for a damaged place. Its leaders were considered kleptocrats; its people were jaw-droppingly poor. But there was still a pride that burst forth from the people here, linked both to the country’s heroic struggle to break the bonds of slavery and to the vibrant cultural life that united them and enabled them to endure.

Now many of the symbols of that proud history lie in ruins. The National Palace, the National Cathedral, the Supreme Court — all are in various states of collapse. Also devastated is the Episcopal Church’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, known for its murals of Bible stories with all black figures.

The earthquake has caused untold suffering and taken tens of thousands of lives — more than 111,000 bodies have been registered, the government said Saturday. The pain of the cultural loss cannot compare. But in stealing symbols that gave Haitians their hope and grandeur and a reminder of a common purpose, the earthquake also cast a different kind of cloud over their future.

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