Jesus Nazareth universally known as Jesus Christ was born on traditional date, 25 December, 1 BC and divided the history of world into two parts. Time that passed before the birth of Jesus Christ is BC (Before Christ), and the time after the Christ left the ordinary world is known as AD. Jesus Christ is a messiah and son of God in Christianity.
Christianity being one of the major religions of world, Christians are also found in large numbers in India, especially Southern parts of it. In Udaipur, Rajasthan the first Christian missionary to settle down was Dr. James Shepherd, Scottish Presbyterian. He came in 1877 which is also marked as a start of Christianity in Udaipur.
In this piece of writing, I am featuring some of the most historic, old and beautiful Churches in Udaipur city. However, there are more than 10 churches in Udaipur but 5 of them are well known, other are operating from private residences.
Shepherd Memorial Church
Shepherd Memorial is the oldest church of the Udaipur, constructed in 1877 after the name of Dr. James Shepherd.
Because Dr. Shepherd’s medical skills and personal qualities found favor with the royal house hold and some British engineers helped in the construction of lake Fateh Sagar it is said that the land of church have been gifted by the Maharana of Udaipur to Dr. James Shepherd.
Then, India was under the British rule which also helped church to develop and gained popularity among the Christians of the time.
The church is located near Chetak Circle, now called Church of North India.
Construction of church is highly influenced with British style of architecture. Old stones used in building and high pointed pillars make it look like churches in Rome and its small windows explain in detail the story and period of the construction of church.
Around 300 people can pray together in this church.
Church of North India or Shepherd Memorial is a protestant and an independent church. In its earlier days prayers were conducted by Dr. James Shepherd only, which changed gradually and these days’ prayers are being conducted by Rev. Emmanuel Damor.
The church follows the DIOCESE of Ajmer which again follows government norms for appointing Pastor for the church.
Rajasthan Pentecostal Church
Pentecostal Church was established by Late Dr. Thomas Matthew, an Apostle of North India who helped figuring out a proper building of it in around 1987 at Rani Road.
Initially, the church was under the Shepherd Memorial, and it was only after 1987 it got its own building and management with their pastor, since then the daily meetings of the church are being conducted at this church located at Rani Road. Now the church is Independent for its own practice.
Till 2005, Late Dr. Thomas Matthew was pastor of the church but after his death the position transferred to Dr. Paul Matthew.
Late Dr. Thomas Matthew is also the founder of the Pentecostal Church.
The church is provided with all the modern amenities. A huge garden space outside building, number of curved pointed windows and well designed wooden chairs gives an attractive look to this church; there is no statue in the church building till now. Almost 500 devotees can pray at a time.
Rajasthan Pentecostal is one among the protestant church of the city also running education institutions and hospitals under them. St. Anthony’s School at Rani Road is one of such educational institutes carried under the church management.
Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral
There is an interesting story attached with this only catholic church of Udaipur.
A devotee of Our Lady in Germany sent a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to India. The Statue arrived in Bombay at the time of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress in 1964. Soon after, that statue was dispatched to Ajmer where it remained unopened from 1964 to 1967in the Bishop’s House.
The Tridium management of Udaipur wanted to have a life- size statue. But due to their limited number of parishioners they could not hope for the same, so bishop of Ajmer was approached for help. His Lordship said that there is a statue of Our Lady of Fatima for quite some time with him which is never opened from its cover. Management welcomed to take it.
Late Rev. Fr. Avito Coutinho said in his letter that “When the cover of the case was opened I stood there spell-bound by its beauty and grace, I immediately said – I would take it as if to say beggars have no choice . For want of a decent place, it had to be kept under purdha, except during pilgrimage days”.
In its initial days the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was kept in a newly constructed block in St. Paul’s school campus, and now it has taken its complete shape of church opposite to school building where the statue is permanently installed with a huge hall for prayers in which 500 devotees can pray.
Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral has beautiful interiors and free large spaces on all sides of church.
There are many institutions which comes under the management of church like St Paul’s Senior Secondary school and St Mary’s Convent school.
St. Gregorios Orthodox Church
In January 1987 foundation of the church was made in Udaipur as a parish (a sub branch) of Malankara Orthodox Church but the Church was named after St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala. As St. Gregorios is the Patron Saint of the church therefore his Statue is also installed inside the prayer hall. It is an orthodox church which resembles construction style from churches in Syria.
Orthodox Church traces its origin in A.D 52 when St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ came and established Christianity in the South Western parts of India.
St. Thomas Christians or Malankara Syrian Christians exist today in different churches and denominations. But a major section of the parent body of St. Thomas Christians which has maintained its independent nature constitutes the Orthodox Church under the Catholicate of the East with headquarters at Devalokam, Kottayam.
St. Gregorios Orthodox Church can occupy as much as 200 devotees at a time. Diocese of Delhi Malankara Orthodox Church is a governing body according to which a Father can serve church till the age of 60 yrs and not more than that.
In the interior areas of Hiran Magri Sector 12, is located Believer’s church which is a newly proposed church. As of now meetings and masses are carried on from residence of Pastor Prabhakar.M in a rented house, a big Hall has been kept for prayers from past 5- 6 years. Management of church is working on land required for the proper construction of church and it is expected to be completely constructed as church from the infrastructure viewpoint.