The history of the churches in Pakistan is part of the history of Christianity in the Indian sub-continent. Their beginnings can be traced to the work of several Christian missions from the 16th century onwards.
The Church of Pakistan is the result of the union of four denominations: Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian (Scottish), which took place in 1970. Here are some of the country's most beautifully constructed cathedrals and churches.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral Seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi, near Empress Market, Saddar, Karachi, was completed in 1881. At the front of the cathedral, there is the Monument to Christ the King. The magnificent cathedral can accommodate up to 1,500 worshipers at a time.
Murree and its surrounding Galiyat were a favourite getaway for the Britishers from the heart and home to many imperial military installations.
The St Matthews Church was built to cater to their needs. The cedarwood structure saw no more worshippers after the colonisers left, for the locals did not adopt Christianity. However, it remains under the care of a Muslim family for the past three generations.
Fatima Church, Islamabad The catholic church takes its name after the village of Fátima, Portugal. An interesting case of etymology; the village of Fátima was named after a Moorish princess, who was in turn named after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The village of Fatima in Partugal is where in 1917, the Virgin Mary in one of her six appearances. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognized the Fátima events as worthy of belief in 1930.
St John's Cathedral, was constructed in the 1850s, and it is the oldest church in the city of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Like Rawalpindi, it was a cantonment church, full of memorials to those killed on the British frontier with Afghanistan.
The St Mary’s Cathedral in Multan is a 165-year-old historical edifice.
It had fallen into a state of ruin and disrepair before the civil society, and the Pakistani military took up a much-needed joint effort to renovate and conserve the building.
The Sialkot Cathedral, is lso known as The Holy Trinity Cathedral Church. It was constructed over a period of five years between 1852 and 1857.
When the cathedral was consecrated, Sialkot was a part of the Diocese of Calcutta.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral was consecrated in 1907.
It was designed by the Belgian architect Edouard Dobbeleers. It is now the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore. The Government of Pakistan released a commemorative stamp on the Centenary Day of the Cathedral.
Inspired by the Roman Basillica, Gothic and local Muslim architecture, the Epiphany Church in Narowar is 15km away from Kartarpur, the final resting place of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
Interestingly, not only does the Church use the Celtic Pagan Triquetra to represent the trinity, the entrance also says “Bait Allah” – House of Allah. Although Allah is the specific name Muslims use for God, it signifies how foreign religions merge with local languages and cultures, thereby making “Allah”, synonymous to “God” for Christians and Muslims alike.
The St. Mary Magdalene Church in Lahore was established in 1857.
Its beautiful whitewashed façade is why it stands out. It was intended to cater to the British troops flowing into the region to crush the fight against British Imperialism by the Sikhs, who later settled there.
It was built at the site of a wooden chapel, which burnt down during the fighting between the British and the Punjabis, Today, Holy Mass, known as “Pak Shiraakat” in Urdu, is carried out in both English and Urdu at the Church.
The St Andrew's Church in Lahore is a Presbyterian church which stands tucked away behind The Empress Market, winding down the Empress Road, both named after Queen Victoria.
Built down the lines of Gothic Revival architecture, it uses red bricks rather than stone, for the former were available locally in nearby Jehlum.
A quiet little church, standing behind a fence at the back of a schoolyard in Mardan.
In the North west frontier of sub-continent propagation of Christianity started in the year 1906, when a lady, Lutheran by faith, came here and opened a school and Medical Centre. The centre later came to be known as "Miss Poppy Hospital", named after the lady doctor.
It is said by the generation of grandparents and great-grandparents that the nurses who read the Bible in Pashto, out to invite locals to Christianity, translated "God" as "Allah".
The St. Paul's Church in Rawalpindi, which was established in 1908 by The Church of Scotland and is currently run by the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan.
The Holy Rosary Church, Quetta, Pakistan is the main church of the Apostolic Prefecture of the city. From 1937-1939 the parish had as Assistant Parish Priest Fr. Liberius Pieterse, who translated the Bible into Urdu.
The St Luke's Church, tucked away in Abbottabad's picturesque lanscape is an Anglican church dedicated to Saint Luke, now under the jurisdiction of the Peshawar Diocese of the Church of Pakistan. It was founded in the town of Abbottabad, British India, in 1864.
This blog has been written by Komal Salman.