KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has approved the release of Rs250 million for the restoration of St Patrick's Cathedral's interior. The cathedral's interior, dating back to 1845, comprises glass, stone and woodwork.
The CM approved the release of funds on Saturday, during a meeting with a delegation of the St Patrick's Cathedral, led by Rev. Fr. Mario Rodrigues, at the CM House.
In the meeting, the CM was informed that St. Patrick's Church was the first church built in Gothic Revival style in Sindh, in 1845. The church can accommodate up to 1,500 people at a time.
The CM said that a detailed description of the Cathedral is available in the Gazetteer of Sindh, which he read out aloud to the participants of the meeting.
"Church exterior is not ornamental, though striking from a distance, but money and art have been lavished on the interior. The chancel, itself spacious, acquires a special impressiveness but its additional height, while the noble contours of the aspiring altar are seen to be the best advantage. The whole interior is painted in oil and the windows are of stained glass, donated by the members of the congregation," he read.
During the meeting, it was pointed out that the stained-glass windows, produced by the Mayer of Germany, depict different scenes including the sacrifice of Isaac, the Paschal lamb, the miraculous Manna, the annunciation, the visitation, the Nativity of Jesus, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the flight into the Egypt, the agony of the Jesus, etc. The CM remarked that stained windows, depicting these scenes painted in oil, need to be restored.
He said that the heritage committee and other experts should be involved in the restoration of the church's old interior so that its original glory is revived. He asked the Rodrigues to begin the restoration work, assuring him that the government will release Rs250 million for this purpose over a period of three years.
"We will give you Rs50 million as soon as you will complete all documentary requirements for starting the restoration work," he said.
Rodrigues informed the CM that the Christian community will also contribute to the expenses of the restoration.
The CM acknowledged that the Christian community has made a considerable contribution to development in Pakistan, particularly Sindh.
"Your [Christian community's] contribution in the education sector is worth mentioning," he said, adding that he himself studied at St Patrick's school.
He said that the standard of education in the public sector has declined steeply and the provincial government needs to hire dedicated and devoted teachers as those teaching at St Patrick's school.
During the meeting, both the parties also agreed to work together for improving the education system in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2019.