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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Centenary celebrations of Catholic Cathedral Church, Lahore. (2007-9)

Built from 1902 to 1907 in the commercial heart of Lahore, the Catholic Cathedral Church stands as one of the most imposing and prominent buildings on the skyline of the city. The word Cathedral comes from the Latin “Cathedra” or “Chair” of the Bishop. It is the Bishop’s Church and considered “the mother church” of Catholic Christians in the northern half of the country. The founder of this majestic Temple was Dr. Godfrey Pelckmans, a Capuchin Bishop from Belgium. The design of this masterpiece was made according to the Roman Byzantine style by a Belgian architect, Dr. Dubbeleere of Antwerp whose original design won him the well known Prize of Rome.The intricate construction work begun in 1902 was supervised by Bro. Joachim, a Belgian Capuchin brother. Sad to say, the founder Bishop Pelckmans did not live to see his dream realized. He passed away on 3rd August 1904. His successor, Bishop Fabian Eestermans completed the Church and dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 19th November 1907 in an impressive four-hour ceremony.The Cathedral is an engineering wonder. The total length is 200 feet and the breadth is 68 feet. The belfry steeple stands 165 feet high. The magnificent dome, 120 feet high, is flanked by four elegant turrets. The main altar and four side altars are made of pure white Carrara marble, imported from Italy. The floor is also covered with shining Italian marble. The doors and comfortable pews are made of solid Burma teak.A noteworthy aspect of the interior is the fine set of stained glass windows high above the High Altar, as well as the coloured glass windows in the side aisles. These masterpieces of art, imported from Europe, depict holy persons and scenes from the life of Holy Mary and St. Anthony. They provide an uplifting and inspiring atmosphere to the house of God.A new addition this year is the “Centenary Museum” which features exhibits about the Cathedral’s construction- and early history as well as valuable objects, including the letter of Pope Clement VIII to Emperor Akbar the great.For one hundred years this cathedral has played a vital and symbolic role in the life and history of the Catholic community of the Punjab. Several generations have worshi~5ped in this sacred space. They experience a powerful sense of the Divine and oneness and fellowship among themselves. Because it is the seat of authority of the spiritual head of the Church, the Archbishop of Lahore, it is a focal point that unites the faithful in bonds of love, faith and peace.With great joy and heartfelt gratitude for this architectural masterpiece, the Christian community will gather to celebrate the centennial jubilee on 19th November 2007. The theme chosen “ A grace remembered, a hope renewed” will make them recognize God’s past blessings and look forward with renewed courage to the years to come.It is our hope and prayer that the centenary celebration will be a source of joy and blessings for the whole nation.To centenary celebration of Catholic Cathedral Church Lahore, a Commemorative Postage Stamp, of Rs. 5/-denomination, issued by Pakistan Post on November 19, 2007.Issued byTHE DIRECTOR GENERAL, PAKISTAN POST, ISLAMABAD.