Saturday, 26 December 2015

St. Patrick's cathedral, Pune, colonial India

Pune, previously  known as Poona, Maharashtra  has the unique  distinction of having  more  than  70  churches  because   of  its  close  proximity  with Mumbai (Bombay),  which  was  once the capital of  Bombay Presidency. Another  factor  was  there  was  a  large  presence  of  British military troops  stationed in  Pune.
   
St. Patrick's  cathedral designed in  impressive Gothic style  was built 1850  primarily  for the  purpose  of  serving  a  large  community  of  Irish  Catholic   soldiers and  others  settled  in  Wanowrie, on the outskirts of  Pune  during the British  East  India  company  rule.  It is an important landmark in the city of Pune  located near the Empress Garden.


St. Patrick's Cathedral,Poona. en.wikipedia.org.
St. Patrick's Cathedral Pune |.www.flickr.com
 The famous church had a humble beginning  and the earlier mass for the British troops  was held for the troops  in  a  single  room  chapel at the end of Right Flank Lines in Wanowrie.  As the place of worship was a small one  and cramped, the church authorities felt that they needed a new and more spacious church to carry on the church services comfortably. Moreover, the population of Christians in that area grew in size as time went by.  Bishop Athanasius Hartmann, O.C., the Apostolic Vicar of Bombay  and  Poona  also realized  the  need  to  have  a better place of worship  and   was in  agreement  with the  urgent requirement of  the  local  Christian  community.  He was instrumental in bringing  in   James  Carry, an Irish Diocesan Priest  from  the  Madras Mission  as a  Chaplain in Poona in 1849. Fr. Carry immediately got down to the task and  drew up plans to erect a new chapel.

St. Patrick's Cathedral,Poona.www.flickr.com

The chapel  was built  on  the land specifically allotted by the government  at the  request of the bishop and the  expenses  were  borne  by  public subscription  and by  the soldiers, who contributed a month's salary. The first mass was celebrated  on December 8,1850 in the new chapel which is now  known as St. Patrick's  Cathedral. Fr. Carry completed the south  (Wanowrie)  side of  the  Church, with  its pinnacled buttresses. The north side (Ghorpuri) was completed later  by Fr. Esseiva, S.J. With the creation of the Diocese of Poona in 1886,  Bernard Beider Linden, S.J. became the first Bishop. Soon in 1887,  St. Patrick's Church became St. Patrick's Cathedral

On account of vagaries of climate and time, the roof of the historical Cathedral collapsed  on July 15, 1984 This time, under the expert guidance of famous  Indian  Architect  and  town  planner  Charles Mark  Correa (September 1930 – June 2015), the Cathedral  was rebuilt  with a  new curved vault  roof  and  better  appearance,  replacing  old  pointed roof. The construction  costs, etc  were  met  with  donations from benefactors and  the re-dedication of St. Patrick's  Cathedral  was  held  on  October 22, 1987.

During  2009 to 2010,  as the old cathedral  needed additional major repairs and decorations, they were carried  out  by  the  church  authorities. Three important  additions are worthy of mention  A new backdrop to the sanctuary wall with a mosaic of the Risen Christ, 16 unique Stained Glass panels  of the life of Jesus and a skylight above the altar depicting the Holy Spirit in stained glass. These newly added features enhanced the beauty and style of this unique church, a reminder of  past colonial era and the vestige of British legacy.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Patrick%27s_Cathedral,_Poona