Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Schwartz Church & Serfoji Maharajah,Thanjavur

Schwartz church, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.  hotelsinthanjavur.com
vintage confession box?, Schwartz church,Thanjavur Tamilnadu Tourism
 The Schwartz Church, adjacent to the Sivaganga park in the prime area of Thanjavur  city, Tamil Nadu  was built by Raja  Serfoji, the great Maratha King in 1779 AD to show his admiration, gratitude and respect for the Danish Missionary, Rev. Friedrich Christian Schwartz who was born at Sonnenburg, Prussia. Schwartz Church, a Protestant place of worship, is still seen as a sign of open-mindedness and secular attitude of the then  Maratha rulers of Thanjavur kingdom  towards various religious beliefs. Fr. Schwartz was Raja Serfoji's tutor and mentor. His saintly approach and integrity left a good impression on the young Raja. Schwartz was instrumental in getting the kingdom back from the British who were about to take over Thanjavur region as there was no legal heir in the Maratha royal family.  The young ruler was not happy with the British rule and frequently complained about their lack of integrity  and and honest dealings.  The avarice of the British angered the Maratha ruler.
interior. Schwartz-church, Thanjavur Tamilnadu Tourism
In the Church, there is a monument or tablet made by John Flaxman on the orders of the Raja of Thanjavur that shows the King holding the hand of the dying Lutheran missionary-evangelist whilst receiving his blessing. John Flaxman, an Italian sculptor who lived in London,  sculpted this statue in 1807 and was installed in this church in 1811. This was known from the writings of Tanjore Vedanayagam Sastriar a court poet in the palace of Serfoji II. The monument is in white marble and is a popular attraction for  the tourists.  In those colonial days this church was known as big church.
A legacy of Thanjavur’s colonial past, the historical Schwartz Church continues to be cited as an important shrine by believers of the Christian Faith of the God’s work being carried across the seas by those entrusted with it. Rev. Schwartz was an early pioneer in the field of education and was responsible for founding many Christian mission schools in this area to impart education to the natives. He was the first to introduce the English language in St. Peter's school of Thanjavur which is considered  as one  among the oldest schools in India.

Schwartz church,Thanjavur  Thanjavur Information and Local Directory Listing
Schwartz church,Thanjavur  Thanjavur Information and Local Directory Listing

It is said that one  Major Stevens  laid  the foundation stone for the church under nine feet depth. It is fairly a big church measuring   90 feet x 50 feet and is under the control of the Archaeological Society of India as the land on which  the church is built  is part of the Big temple land.  Father Schwartz is believed to have  conducted regular masses in this church from April 1780. He used to live on the church premises in the NW part.of the church and  in his capacity as a Danish priest, he  had a close relationship with the British East India company  and was quite familiar with higher officials at Madras. There is a monument to Rev. Schwarz by John Bacon arranged by  the British East India Company in St Mary's church at Chennai (formerly Madras). There is a well-known school named after Rev. Schwartz  in  Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu and  Dr. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, was an old student of that school.
Ref:
http://www.wmcarey.edu/carey/schwartz/schwartz

https://en.wikipedia.org wiki/Christian_Friedrich_Schwartz

            (Minor modifications made: 11 June 2015)