|Christ Church Built : 1792 Thiruchirapalli. .www.trichy.com|
|Christian_Friedrich_Schwarz St. Mary's church,chennai. Madras musings.com.|
Christ Church, built by the Rev. Christian Frederick Schwartz in 1766 in Trichirapalli , it is believed, is the second oldest Anglican church, built east of the Suez, after St. Mary’s in Fort St George, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Located on Nandi Koil Street, near Teppakulam (built by the Nayak king), exactly opposite to Naganatha Swami Temple, it is an historical church mainly built to cater to the services of Christian community that lived here centuries ago.
Schwartz came to India in 1750 as part of the Danish Mission to spread Christinity in India. He arrived at Tiruchirapalli on 30 July, 1750 via Tranquebar, a small coastal village on the east coast of Tamil Nadu. Though Tranquebar was for some time his headquarters, he paid frequent visits to Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli, and in 1766 moved over to Tiruchirapalli. Here he acted as chaplain to the garrison, and upon taking residence he had a church built and also a home on the same premises where Christ Church stands now. This home was meant for orphaned or affected children of military officers killed in an accidental explosion of some military arsenal. He had a single story house built on a higher basement with an underground chambers From 1766, the school functioned from the vestry of Christ Church and later came to be known as the Vestry School. In 1812, it moved over to St John’s Church in the cantonment area of Trichy where in 2013 it successfully completed 250 years. Christ Church has a marble plaque that records its date of consecration and also states that the land for the church was donated by the Nawobs of the Carnatic
It is really unfortunate that this historical church, has not received any due attention whatsoever and its maintenance is inadequate.It is also quite true of the Scwartz Church of Thanjavur built by Raja Serfoji. The heritage aspect of this old church is not taken into account and neglected. Memorial stones with inscriptons, stained glass fan lights, doors, vaulted ceiling, the altar, etc need careful restoration without obliterating the original historical works.
Schwartz (1726–1798), founder of Christ Church, was a German Lutheran Protestant missionary to India. Born on 8 October, 1726 at Sonnenburg, in the electorate of Brandenburg, Prussia, when he grew up, he took keen interest in missionary and charitable work. Having learned the Tamil language(widely spoken in Tamil Nadu, India) to assist in a translation of the Bible into that language, he was keen to become a missionary in India. He received ordination at Copenhagen on 8 August,1749, and, spent some time in England to acquire the English language,
A genial person as he was, besides being a polyglot, he had good relationship with local Indian rulers in particular Rajah Serfoji II, a Maratha ruler of Tanjore, to whom he was a mentor right from the early stage. Raja Serfoji was a direct descendant of Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha warrior. Fr. Schwartz also had good relationship with Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore. As a Protestant missionary in India, he won the esteem of people of other religious faiths. After twelve years in Tiruchirapalli,he moved to Thanjavur, where he spent the remainder of his life. He died on 13 February 1798. The Raja of Tanjore - Serfoji had a monument erected and executed by John Flaxman, in the mission church, in which he is represented as grasping the hand of the dying missionary and receiving his benediction.
A monument to Schwartz by John Bacon was placed by the British East India Company in St. Mary's church at Chennai. Schwartz High School in Ramanathapuram has produced notable students, among them Dr. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India and a ballistic missile scientist of international repute.
The following is the message in the Memorial commissioned by Raja Serfoji at Thanjavur CSI Schwartz church (1779):
To the memory of the Reverend Christian Frederic Swartz. Born at Sonnenburg of Neumark in the Kingdom of Prussia, the 26th of October 1726, and died at Tanjore the 13th of February 1798, in the 72d Year of his age. Devoted from his Early Manhood to the Office of Missionary in the East, the similarity of his situation to that of the first preachers of the gospel, produced in him a peculiar resemblance to the simple sanctity of the apostolic character. His natural vivacity won the affection as his unspotted probity and purity of life alike commanded the reverence of the Christian, Mahomedan and Hindu. For sovereign princes, Hindu, and Mahomeden selected this humble pastor as the medium of political negotiations with the British Government Maha Raja Serfojee