The White-Stoned Church Before The Bloodbath

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PESHAWAR: Within minutes blood and gore swept the 129 years old White-Stone Church.

All Saints Church Peshawar
All Saints Church Peshawar

The All Saints’ Church was built in 1883, located inside the Kohati Gate of the old walled north western city of Pakistan and is a parish of the Church of Pakistan. It is only one of its kinds in terms of its architecture when it comes to Churches in Pakistan bearing a surprising resemblance to an Islamic saracenic mosque with minarets and a dome.

The Church was inaugurated on 27th of December 1883. The cornerstone was laid by Captain Graves whose widow presented the brass desk on the Lord’s Table. Peculiarly, a commemorative inscription on a wall records: “This Church is erected to the Glory of God and dedicated to the memory of All Saints in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1883.”

This exceptional mosque-like architecture fitted magnificently to the use of Christian worship. The incredible columns, minarets and oriental arches are immaculately proportioned. The Church is specifically aligned to face Jerusalem; bearing text calligraphy in Persian on its front.

 

The interior of this magnificent building is surprisingly the same as it was more than a century ago. Whereas, the Church has the capacity to hold around 200 people. Just at the entrance is a rare photograph of Reverend Jukes in native Afghan dress. The walls are inscribed with texts in diverse languages; Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Arabic, English and Hebrew. The altar holds a beautiful screen of intricate wood carving. A curved aisle leads to the meandering at the back of the altar and the wooden screen. Several white marble memorial plaques are advertised here.

 

Another striking attraction to the visitors is an old Bible in Hebrew and English dated 1806, with a brass fastener engraved with ‘Peshawar City, Afghanistan.’One can climb on top of the stockade built around the arched roof.

However, sign of deterioration are now noticeable as the building reaches almost 130th year of its construction. A local upbeat group the Frontier Heritage Trust (FHT) has appealed to the Government authorities for appropriate notification of endangered historic buildings in the Frontier and to declare this Church a National Monument under the Federal Antiquities Act 1975.