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With Saint Patrick’s Day being celebrated today, it is fitting to pay a tribute to one of the most beautiful and prominent churches of Karachi – the gorgeous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which lies on Shahrah-e-Iraq, formerly known as Clarke Street, near Empress Market.

Interestingly enough, the first church in Sindh (except for possibly the one in Thatta) was built on the grounds of this very cathedral in 1845 and was called St. Patrick’s church.

It was in April 1881 that the present cathedral was opened when the Christian community grew in number, and the need for a larger place of worship became apparent. Even though a new building was constructed to house the cathedral, the little church continued to function until it was eradicated by a storm in 1885.

The impressive looking present-day cathedral is built in Gothic style, it measures 170 by75 feet, and has the capacity to accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at one time. It was designed by three members of the Society of Jesus, Father Wagner, Brother Kluver and Brother Lau.

The Gazetteer of the Province of Sindh provides an interesting description of the cathedral:

“Its 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 by its additional height, while the noble contours of the aspiring altar are seen to the best advantage. The whole interior is painted in oil and the windows are all of stained glass, the gifts of the members of the congregation.”

Today, the cathedral’s grounds are adorned with a magnificent marble Christ the King monument, which was constructed in 1931 to commemorate the memory of the Jesuit Mission in Sindh.

– Mamun M Adil

First published in the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 16, 2006.

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