Monday, 18 June 2018

St. Matthias, the second oldest Anglican Church in India where Robert Clive got married!!

St. Matthias' Church, Vepery, Chennai. hurchwilliam.blogspot.com
During the British rule under the English company, a few churches came up in Madras, the then capital city of madras Presidency to serve the European community. 

St. Matthias' Church, Vepery is 195 years old and Since St. Matthias died a martyr, the Patronal festival is not celebrated here. However, the festivities are held on the day's eve, March 23, every year.
St.Matthias'Church,Vepery, Chennai.hurchwilliam.blogspot.com
St.Matthias is the second oldest Anglican Church in this side of the Suez after St.Mary's Church which is in Fort St.George on the Marina, Chennai. Built in 1828, it was consecrated by the  officiating Bishop of Madras Spencer on St. Matthias day in 1842.  The ownership of this church changed  a few times in the past - earlier it was  referred to as  - the English Church because  it had passed hands from the French to the Portuguese and finally to the English (Protestants). In 1821 Major De Havilland of the Madras Engineers was asked to expand the church  to allow more people to sit and to carry on necessary repair work in the church; however, it was beyond resoration, The church was  called  the "High Anglican" for the reason that the communion was kept in the Tabernacles, a tradition not  common in the protestant churches. And it was  kept there for 24 hours for the healing of the sick.
St.Matthias'Church,Vepery, Chennai.hurchwilliam.blogspot.com
It was decided to have new church built at a reasonable cost and one John Law, an Anglo-Indian  came up with a design that could cost Rs.31,600, for which the SPCK offered to provide Rs.20,000. The Madras Government under the English Company was willing to meet the difference, on condition that church would offer religious services and worship according to the rites of the Church of England. 

A generous Armenian merchant, Coja Petrus Uscan, gave lots of funds and helped finish  the church between 1730 and 1740. Uscan also had  the  stone steps built to access St. Thomas Mount. He died in 1751 and his tombstone is in front of the porch of St. Matthias' bearing his epitaph in Armenian and Latin.

When the construction of the church was on wife of Gov. Thomas Munro, lady Munro took a personal interest in the church work.  It was the congregation of St.Matthias which helped build St.Pauls which is  close to this church. During the French occupation, Roman catholic services were held by the French priests when the church was repossessed by the English it became popularly known as  the English Church. While under the French, Hyder Ali gave a donation of Rs. 300 in the year 1779 for building a chapel.
It is quite interesting to note the wedding ceremony of Robert Clive and Margaret Maskelyne was solemnized here officiated by the Danish missionary, John Fabricius.  St. Matthias was brought under the management of CSI and still the Angelo Indian tradition of worship is being strictly followed here, besides, holy Communion is served everyday at 7 a.m.

http://churchwilliam.blogspot.com/2011/09/stmatthias-church-hunters-road-vepery.html
http://www.thehindu.com/2000/03/17/stories/13170791.html