Throughout the world, Christmas is a time for merrymaking, feasting and drinking toasts to each other’s health. And it is around this time that the exquisite Medak cathedral is also awash with the celebrations.
It’s a time for thanksgiving by the farmers who throng the church to offer prayers after the kharif harvesting season.
Considered as one among the most beautiful and biggest churches in South Asia, the Medak cathedral is a towering example of Gothic style architecture. While a lot has been written about the architecture of the church, not many are aware of the story of its humanitarian preacher, Charles Walker Posnett.
Around 1914, some parts of the State were reeling under severe famine conditions post World War I and many people were dying of cholera. Work was scarce resulting in abject poverty in the region. Observing this, Posnett conceived the idea of “Food for Work” by engaging locals in the construction of the church in 1914. The construction of the 93-year-old church provided livelihood to hundreds of local people and saved them from the famine and poverty.
Posnett came to Secunderabad in 1895 and moved to Medak a couple of years later to spread Christianity in rural areas. He decided to build the cathedral in Medak as he found the previous chapel built in the 1850s too small. Overseeing the construction activity meant constant travel from Hyderabad in a time when there was no rail facility to Medak. He would travel 60 km on horseback to meet his superiors in Secunderabad to obtain funds. It is said that Posnett spent over Rs 32 lakh on the construction and roped in expert architects from England for the purpose.
The spellbinding stained glass work depicting the story of Jesus Christ is the handiwork of architect and sculptor Francis Owen Salisbury. The three stained glass windows describe different scenes from Christ’s life such as nativity, crucifixion and the ascension. Before his departure to England in 1939, Posnett is believed to have trained 1200 pastors by establishing 1200 organisations in five Telangana districts in 15 years. Even today, many people in Medak remember him due to his humanitarian efforts in the region.