St Patricks Church was constructed in 1850 in Ghorpuri area of Pune. It is essentially a military cantonment area and the church was consecrated to cater to the Irish soldiers of the British army.
The church was named after St Patrick the patron saint of the Irish folk.
The church is located near Pune Race course, Prince of Wales drive, near the Empress Botanical Gardens.
The earliest church in Pune was constructed in 1794, for the Portuguese soldiers employed in Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao’s army. The Peshwa allotted a plot in Nana Peth for the same . Earlier in 1790, Dom Manuel Norhona a Portuguese officer in the Peshwas army requested the Archbishop of Goa to send a minister to attend to the religious needs of the catholics in the Peshwas army. Accordingly, Fr Vincent Joaquim Menezes was sent for the purpose. Father Menezes then resided and conducted mass in the house of Dom Norhona. Later the catholics contributed money and built a chapel in Nana Peth. The first Mass was conducted on a Christmas day. Today that chapel is known as ‘The Church of Immaculate Conception’ or ‘The City Church’. Later in 1800 the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay started sending priests to Poona to minister the catholics in Daulatrao Scindia’s army but this practice stopped in 1804.
In 1835, Fr Britto a Goan priest working under the Vicar Apostolic acted as a military chaplain in a chapel constructed at Right Flank Lines,Wanowrie, until St Patricks church was constructed in 1850 at a cost of 22,000/- collected from soldiers and well wishers (2000/- being contributed by the government). The first mass was conducted by Father Sheehan (who incidently died ten days later) on 8th Dec 1850.The church was blessed by Bishop Hartmann, the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay and administrator in Poona in June 1856 , who also gave it the name St Patrick’s. The church became St Patrick’s cathedral in 1857. Later Poona had its own Vicar Apostolic , different from the one in Bombay and the affairs were managed by the ‘Society of Jesus’. However the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay continued to remain the main administrator till heirarchy was established in 1886. Rev.Bernard Bieder Linden became its first Bishop. The church is presently the headquarters of the Poona diocese and boasts of the highest number of parishioners.
On the night of 15th July 1984, the roof of the church collapsed and was replaced in 1987 by a concrete one designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa. The turrets were replastered, the wooden doors were replaced, as were sixteen stain glass window panels. The walls and the façade however remained unchanged.
Presently the church is still undergoing renovation work and a theme based lighting system , stained glass depicting episodes from the life of Jesus, marble statues of St Peter and St Paul are very much in the offing.
The façade of St Patricks is indeed beautiful with several turrets,spires,belfrys on either side. There is a vault shaped roof with a cross atop and a rose window as its central feature.
Pic: source sunshine n.r.d, panoramio
There are aedicules with doors flanking the main door at the centre.
A large statue of Jesus Christ in the courtyard right before the church , welcomes the parishioners. Also alongside is the statue of Mother Mary.
Pic: source.Anirudh Umrani, flickr
Activities like mass, baptism,prayers,confessions, marriages are conducted in the church premises on a regular basis.
St Patricks church because of its beautiful architecture and rich history will continue to remain one of the prized landmarks of Pune.
Text and photographs (except the ones credited) by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha