|Christ Church, Tiruchirapalli. thehindu.com|
Schwartz came to India in 1750 as part of the Danish Mission to spread Christianity in India and finally moved over to Tiruchirapalli for good. Schwartz (1726–1798), founder of Christ Church, was a German Lutheran Protestant missionary to India and was a mentor of the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur Raja Serfoji with whom he had a lasting relationship. Here, he acted as chaplain to the garrison being maintained by the East India Company, and upon taking residence he had a church built and also a home on the same premises where Christ Church stands now.
|Rev. Heger buried here. Christ Church, Tiruchirapalli, TN|
Surprisingly, this church, like most other old churches, has quite a few architectural features that have survived the passage of time and vagaries of weather. Behind the altar lies a curved wall of gilded inscriptions of sacred texts in English, Tamil, Portuguese, and Aramaic. An interesting fact that emerges from the Church records is in the early periods services at the church used to be conducted in English, Tamil, and Portuguese.
The belfry in the church has a bell imported from England at the time of the church’s construction and is still in use. Belfry can be accessed through a wooden staircase which is in good shape. The Mission House located out side the church used to serve as an overnight shelter for travelers and in local parlance (Tamil) it is called Chatram. Now this name covers the entire area.
Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826), was a well-known English missionary belonged to the Church of England. Despite his preoccupation with his compelling pastoral duties and church work, he had set aside his time for hymn-writing and other work in which he excelled. His church hymns are popular and his work - the critical study of the complete work of the 17th century Cleric Jeremy Taylor was well received and gave him recognition as a writer. Heber was formally consecrated on 1 June 1823 as Bishop of Calcutta at Lambeth Palace, by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bishop Heber and his family arrived in Calcutta on 10 October 1823 to carry on his evangelical work. After his formal ceremonial installation by the then Governor General, Lord Amherst, Heber gave his first sermon as bishop on Sunday 12 October, in St John's Cathedral Church, still a famous church even to day.
Though an evangelist by calling, he was well remembered for his interesting and attention-grabbing travelogues related to India. He was very much impressed by the diversity of culture, languages, etc., when he was on tour across India. He undertook the tour of India during 1824 to 1826, visiting churches from Calcutta to the Deccan in the south within his Anglican Diocese of Calcutta.
|Bishop of Calcutta. Reginald Heber.jWikipedia|
In the church graveyard there are 12 graves dating from 1766 to 1797. The concrete ceiling was laid in 1978-79, replacing the original bomb-proof roof dome. Until Nov. 1980, oil lamps were widely used inside the church.