EXHIBITS OF ST. THOMAS CATHEDRAL

An exhibition to commemorate 300 years of ST. Thomas Cathedral is organised at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – CSMVS (Formerly called as Prince of Wales Museum). Marking the Tercentenary celebrations of ‘The Living Cathedral’, a month long exhibition digs into the archives of the cathedral and brings out the lesser know artefacts to the people.

The exhibition on the first floor of the Museum at the Premchand Roychand Gallery, is open for public view from 15th December 2018 to 15th January 2019. I was informed about this exhibition by Reverend Avinash Rangayya during my visit to the church on 23rd December. My new year began with a Museum tour to personally witness the rich legacy of the city’s glorious past and appreciate the collection dating over hundreds of years.

There are about 41 objects for public display amongst which are a silver ware, seals, maps, letters, photographs, emblems, birth and death registers and the holy bible. The most fascinating archival record is the Baptism Register. The record book bears details about the son of John Lockwood and Alice born in St. Thomas Cathedral on 30th December 1865. Baptised on 22nd January 1866, the boy was named Rudyard Kipling who went onto to become a writer and his most famous writing work was ‘The Jungle Book’

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A close up view of the Baptism register. The register is opened at the page where Rudyard Kipling’s baptism day is recorded – St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai

The exhibits goes beyond objects and takes you through the historic facts of Mumbai and how it transcended from a small town to a city. The ‘Sanctum Sanatorium’ and the ‘Zero Marker’ of the cathedral reveals the unknown treasures it has managed to preserve over the years. The ancient maps uncovers the love and obsession of the British for cartography. Some of these maps are put for public disclosure for the first time.

A look back in History:

Earlier between 1700-1800, The East India Company wanted to ensure that they carried out all that was required for the safety of Bombay (now Mumbai), thereafter reinforcing the work of fortification that continued for many years. The boundaries of Bombay town were mainly defined by landmarks and the fort walls.  The fortification led the creation of three gates – Bazaar Gate, Apollo Gate and Church Gate, the last being named after the church. 

The inauguration of the church took place on Christmas day, 1718. This auspicious date was chosen by Charles Boone, the Governor of bombay and was attended by various members of the community. As the fortification further strengthened the crucial location of the church managed to secure its iconic status within the town. It stood shining like a beacon in the city, rising above the generality of buildings.  

Photographs of crucial exhibits from St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai:

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English merchants gradually gained command of the Trade in the Island city while Portuguese control simultaneously began to diminish. In 1662, Bombay changed hands as it was presented to King Charles II of England as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal. 
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A silver chalice at the centre was presented to the church by the Honorable Gerald Aungier, Governor of Bombay  – St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai
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The seal of John Harding, the second Bishop of Bombay. Document with King’s seal which are attached to one another with red and yellow threads. 
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Holy Bible, leather bond and paper – 1870 
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Left to right: Bishop Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta and the first Bishop of Metropolitan of India 1832-1858; Bishop Richard Dyke-Acland, Bishop of Bombay 1929-1942; Bishop Walter Ruthven Pym, Bishop of Bombay 1903-1908. 
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1. Silver bowl for washing hands at the altar before serving the host at Holy Communion. 2. Silver box used for storing host which is served at Holy Communion, symbolic of the Bread served at the Last Supper. 3. Silver plates used for collecting offerings during service at the Cathedral. 
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Map from the 1800’s period outlining the extent of the Diocese of Bombay. 
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Letters patent constituting the Bishopric of Bombay and appointing Bishop Thomas carr, 1828 
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The Cathedral photographed by Johnson and Henderson in 1855, seen from the Bombay Green. To the right behind the tree part of the Churchgate can be seen.
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Wood and Metal, Emblem of the Registrar of the Diocese – Bombay

 

Author: Vijay Malhotra. Mumbai

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