The Cathedral Church
The Tower is 170 ft.high, with four pinnacles which can be seen miles around. Every night there shines an illuminated flourescent tube-light on the top of the Tower. As you approach Medak from the direction, next to the Fort that which strikes your eye is the stately Tower of the Cathedral, with the four elegant turrets at the four corners, as its Crown.
A legend is attached to the Tower, that there was delay in securing the permission of the then ruler, the Nizam for the construction of the Church, till he was sufficiently satisfied that the Tower was not going to be any higher than the Charminar! How far it is Apocryphal, I leave the readers to conjecture ! There it is, which has come down as a tradition, which may not be altogether without a spark of truth!
The Bell in the steeple which makes it resonant sound heard far into the distance, daily three times during the week-days at 7.00 a.m, 12.00 am. at 6.00 p.m. and for the Services on Sunday and on the special Occassions, was cast in and despatched from Croydon, England.
The Interior: The Floor
The mosaic floor is composed of six different coloured tiles; Red, Brown, Black, Yellow, Chocolate and Grey, From the famous English potteries and skillfully laid by Italian workmen brought from Bombay.
The floor was the gift of Mr. Joseph Rank ( Now Lord Rank) one of the greatest benefactors of the Methodist Missionary society and is greatly appreciated as our boys and girls from our Hostels and a large number of worshippers sit on the floor.
The floor and the gallery within the Church, without furniture provide enough seating accomodation for about 4000. On the first day of the Opening of the Church, The Christmas Day 25th December, 1924, there was a gathering of nearly 5000 Christians and non-christians from Urban and Rural areas friends and visitors from other denominations.
The Massive pillars, built with finely hewn and well-dressed grey stone, support the gallery and the whole edifice. They look strong, stately and firm holding up as it were the vast expanse of the ceiling, ribbed in squares to make it look ornamental.
The Baptismal Fort
This is built of Bath Stone and is the gift of the Rev. & Mrs. O.L.Vickers in memory of Mr. Vicker's sister who came out as a Medical Missionary and died while working as a Staff Nurse at the Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore.
The Communion Rail and the Chancel Rails which are of shining brass are the gift of Miss Emilie Posnett and Miss S.A. Harris, in grateful remembrance of Abhishekamma the first Indian nurse-Bible woman, who was also a colleague, a mother, chaperon, a liason between the Indian and the European, in fact every thing to those two young Missionary-ladies whom she looked upon as her wards.
This is the gift from the Rev. & Mrs. J. Gordon Bennet and family. It is all Italian Marble of different colours but the present edging of black Indian Marble has taken the place of the rich beautiful green marble, which got broken in the transit.
The Carved Wood – Work
All the carved wooden-furniture in the Cathedral, including the intricately and delicately carved Communion Table is the work of skillful Indian Christian Carpenter, D.O. Abraham assisted by other veteran carpenters such as Katta Satyanandam.
The carved wooden benches and richly carved Main-door at the southern Entrance are all gifts from various Institutions and individuals at Medak and from the Circuits in the Hyderabad District.
The Reading Desk and Carved Chairs
The Reading Desk of Walnut Wood, carved in the form of an Eagle without stretched wings, at the center of which rests the Holy Bible. At the base of the Desk there are smaller Eagles supporting the stand. In the Holy Bible Eagle is symbolic of Wisdom, Vigour, swiftness, farsightedness; with the pierching rays of the burning sun penetrating into its blood – shot eyes; a bird which alone can fly beyond mans vision. It is aptly titled 'The King of the birds'.
The Old Communion Table within the Communion Rail on to a side and the three beautifully carved Eagle Chairs, near the Reading desk and the two on either side of the Main Communion Table, also of Walnut Wood, are all from Switzerland.
The Western Vestry contains a spacious table and three almirahs: one for the Vestments, one for service books, and one for the Church registers etc. They are all made of Wel!polisher Rangoon Teak. There is also an Iron Safefixed in the wall, which contains the offerings before they are sent to the Bank and some other valuable vessels used for Church service.
The vestry in the East contains of odd things and there we find Two Marble Tables: One mentioning the date of the Opening of the Church for the Worship of God and the other in recognition of the services of the Architects Messrs. Bradshaw, Gass and Hope of Bolton, who during a period of ten years while the construction was in process, sent more than 200 plans.
Within the church there are Three Memorial Tablets, one in Memory of the Rev. C.W. Posnett sent by the Members of the family; one in memory of Robert Posnett Esqr. of Runcorn and the third 'In grateful Tribute to the work of Frank 0. Salisbury, R.A.C.V.O. and other Companions of the Cross.
From the Western Vestry there are steps leading down into the Crypt where all the lumber is stowed away. Missionaries going on furlough leave their un-wanted luggage well packed and addressed, for easy despatch, in any eventuality of their non-return.
The Main Approach
The beautifully designed Main Gate with sliding iron bars was the gift of Bankers, Chandanmull Deerji & Co., Secunderabad, with whom Missionaries of Various Churches had dealings in those days when there was the dual currency in the Hyderabad State; the Nizam's and that of the British Government.
On entering the Main Gate one walks on the wide road edged with green border on eitherside and ferns in the back ground, making the approach picturesque.
A flight of steps leading to the Terrace from where eighty years ago the Opening Services were held on the Three Days of the Dedicatory Services, before the people entered procession into the Sanctuary for Worship. From here we enter into the high vaulted spacious porch, paved with Carrara marble, supported by massive grey-stone pillars.
In the Porch there is a visitors 'collection box, well fixed on to table, into which free will Votive offerings are put by those who come to visit the church during the week.
This Church from its inception has been looked upon as one fit to be called 'Cathedral'. Azariah, Bishop Waller, Bishop Westcott, the then Metropolitian of the Anglican Church, Bishop Whitehead of Madras and the Most Reverend Mar Juhannon, the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church have all, each in his turn, independently expressed the wish that one day it may be designated 'Cathedral'.
Upon the inauguration of the Church of South India, on 27th September 1947 at St. George's Cathedral, Madras, the Diocese of Medak was formed on October 3rd, 1947, with the Installation of At. Rev. Frank Whittaker, M.A. One of the newly consecrated Bishops, as the First Bishop in Medak to adorn the newly made "CATHEDRAL" which only means 'a seat', signifying the beginning of a New Era in the life of the Church and the District. The prediction of the Church dignitories of different Churches having been fulfilled, what was once a 'Methodist church' is now known as 'The Medak Cathedral'.
The Three Magnificent Stained – Glass Windows
"THE ASCENSION WINDOW" In point of time this was the first to be installed in 1927, occupying the vast expanse in the Chancel and which is visible in all its fullness to the whole congregation in the nave of the Cathedral. It was in the providence of God that this should be the first, because the Church was built not merely to tell the story of the Cross of Jesus, though unique to Christianity and essential for the salvation of mankind, but it also stands to declare the Living Presence of the Risen Lord, who ascended into heaven and enthroned in high, makes the grand declaration: "Full authority in heaven and on earth has been committed to me. Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; proclaim the good news to the whole creation; baptize men every where in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
"Lord, I am with you always to the close of the age"
If this Cathedral has to have a name, the one that suggests itself to me is "the Church of the ascension of the Lord! could there be more appropriate and auspicious occasion than this golden Jubilee, for the "Christening" to take place!
This is the largest of the Three Stained Glass Windows and Sir Frank Salisbury has so lavishly expended his artistic, aesthetic and esoteric faculties in producing the Window, that to say the least he has excelled himself in this finished product of a perfect piece of Art!
The dexterity with which the artist has brought out the richness of varied colors, without making them too loud or too pallid, makes one wonder whether the divine Hand had not been directing the artist in guiding his hand to bring life into a picture of such rare and exquisite beauty, which the eye can never feel too tired to gaze upon!
The Central Figure is the "Ascending Lord" with his flowing robes of variegated colors, His eyes looking downwards on his disciples and other faithful followers, who with their upward gaze and outstretched arms are invoking his blessings upon them.
Even the eyes of an amateur details which are beyond the scope of the limited space for any adequate description.
Sri Frank Salisbury sent one of his own men with the cases containing the pieces of colored glass, to ensure their safe arrival and to assemble them together to fill up the vast expanse of the northern wall in the Chancel. With this exquisite piece of art, which in its beauty and glory stands unrivalled and unexcelled.
Medak Cathedral is unquestionably one of the finest and noblest Christian Shrines in our country and the Ascension window in the Chancel is believed to be the largest Stained Glass Window in India and without doubt one of the most beautiful.
The Artist is particularly interested in putting in something oriental, so that you find a young brown Indian woman sitting with her face towards the congregation in a sedentary, meditative and contemplative posture. There is a scroll about her head with the Beatitude "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God".Though she had not seen the Lord with the outward eyes, unlike her counterpart on the opposite panel of the window, Mary Magdalene, this person of the orient symbolises all those who, not having seen the Lord with the mortal eye, are now able to see Him with the aid of the indwelling Holy spirit, with the inward eye. Holding a Parchment, which represents the word of God, she sits illumined within her heart and seems to say;
"would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord? Go and hide beneath his shadow – this shall then be your reward: And when're you leave the silence of that happy meeting place, Your will bear the shinning image of the Master in Your face."
The Nativity Window
In point of time this was the second window installed in the year 1947. The Artist has named it the 'Divine Manifestation'! It is dedicated to the Women, past and present who have rendered and are now rendering faithful service to their Lord Jesus Christ in the whole of the Medak Diocese and in certain sections of the Dornakal Diocese which once was in the Hyderabad District.
The Rev. C.W. Posnett who was eager to do something maganimous, very rightly thought of a window to be dedicated to women workers, as an expression of gratitude, for all that he himself had received through selfless and indefatigable services of his own beloved Miss Emilie Posnett and their loyal and devoted mutual friend Miss Sally A. Harris and his own kinswoman Miss Gertude Wigfield. His large heart had also a place for Indian women who once rendered faithful service, like Abhishekamma. He also had in mind the wives of Indian Evangelists, who in those days were rendering honorary service in the Urban and Rural Circuits, shouldering equal, if not great responsibilities than their husbands, in that, they had not only to help their husbands and children, and providing hospitality for guests. Who at times dropped in without any previous intimation.
His conception of service by women-workers was not confined only to those in Pastoral and Evangelistic work, but extended to all those devoted women in the Educational, Medical and other service agencies in the District.
The Window is therefore aptly, dedicated to the Honour and Glory of womanhood!!
The Persona Grata in this window is the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is seen bending, in her characteristic humility and modesty, with deep devotion over the cradle, in which is laid her first born son, the Saviour of the world!
In the left panel we see the shepherds who were the first to come and see "Go contracted to a Span. Incomprehensibly made men!" "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them" By the Angel Gabriel.
In the panel on the right are the Traditional Three Wise Men, Astrologers from the East, who having seen his star in the East have come a long distance, bedecked with costly jewels in their princely robes, decorative head-gears with their offerings of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, to worship "the king of the Jews', the Lord of the Universe. In the window one can see the Star conspicuously imbedded in the center of an illumined Cruciform
It is significant that in art, from the early days of Christianity, Madonna is draped in royal blue and Sir Frank Salisbury has remained faithful to his professional forbears in this respect.
The enigmatic figure in the window may easily be taken to represent The Ancient of Days' making the whole picture anthropomorphic! I have always described him as a representative of the Prophet Isaiah, who with his inner vision, opened by the Holy Spirit, is supposed to be looking at the fulfilment of his predictions, concerning the birth of a Saviour whose Name is "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father., Prince of Peace".
Here as in the other window, there are ever so many details which space forbids me to describe. I might just take mention of Three Objects which seem to be common to the Three Windows: The Rainbow: the dove, the symbol of the Holy spirit and the Easter Lily, the symbol of the Resurrection of our Lord.
Right at the bottom of the window are the words:
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever"
In fine, the Window is a Poem in Art, reminding us of the beautiful song of Mary, which the Christian Church Chants Sunday after Sunday.
The Crucifixion Window
Chronologically this is the last window to be installed in 1958 and was unveiled by an Ex-President of the Methodist Conference England, the Rev. D.N. Smith, M.A., D.D. this window, and the other two windows of the Nativity and the Ascension constitute the Gospel Trilogy, depicting the Story of the Life of Jesus Christ.
The Central Figure in the window is the Crucified Lord who dominates the whole space. The Artist with his characteristics orginality has inscribed under the Crown at the head of the cross, in Hindi characters "Ihodiyanka Rajah" ,meaning "The king of the Jews!"
This crown at the top end of the Cross declares that the God we love and worship, though broken bleeding, yet unconquered reigns as the King from the Tree. He has no other splendour than the splendour of the Cross!
There is nothing gruesome, nothing distasteful and nothing distracting about the main theme of the Window. The Cross is no longer a dark, dismal distasteful and dreadful instrument of torture. But because Jesus has died on it, He has transformed this man-invented evil into a Throne of Grace and Mercy, from which the Lord of all being dispenses the judgement of the world, by offering his verdict of universal and eternal forgiveness to all mankind saying:
"Father ! forgive them for they know not what they do".
At the feet of the Cross kneeling and gazing on her son is the Holy Mother. Standing, is the "Beloved disciple", John looking at the Mother, as though comforting her.
A little lower in the left panel we find a man, two women and a Child, the man respectably dressed, steeped in sorrow stands with his head bent while the women and the child with the expression of grief in their faces are looking at the Crucified one. their sadness is expressed in the inscription "He died that we might live".
In the right panel there is Mary Magdalene Kneeling at the Cross of her Beloved Lord with her eyes closed, with the devotion of a woman passionately in love with her Divine Master. Her companion, another Mary with her head bent, is standing with grief written on her face. Between them stands the Roman Centurion with the spear in his hand, gazing on the One whom he had pierced, with awe inspired bewilderment, exclaiming "Truly, this is the Son of God" Right on the top is the Dove with wings spread out, looking towards the Cross below, as the messenger of Peace, descending on Jesus, as it did at his baptism in the River Jordan.
There is an inscription at the bottom in Telugu:
"I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself".
The theme of the window may be summed up in the inscription round the Sacred Head Crowned with thorns:
"Greater Love hath no man than this".
Thus stands the Cathedral; to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Crown of all the talents of Rev. Posnett as a Master-builder. While his name is always associated with the Cathedral, it is not in Stone and cement that it is engraved, but it is enshrined in every loving heart, all over the Medak Diocese and that part of the Dornakal-Diocese which was once a part of the then Hyderabad District, from which proceeds every thankful song upon every remembrance of the Beloved Father in God, the Rev. Charles Walker Posnett, whose burning passion was, "MY BEST FOR MY LORD".
To those who question its lavish cost, it is enough to say that the Medak Cathedral is the Spikenard in Stone, the amazingly lavish outpouring from one who never ceased to wonder at his own redemption, an offering that not only glorifies his Lord, but has given to the poorest of the world's poor, a treasure-house beyond all telling.
Among the visitors there have been any number of those who have held very high Offices in the State. Sri Bhimsen Sacher, once the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, paid a visit with Srimati Bhimsen Sacher. On entering the Church, he was so thrilled with its awe-inspiring splendour, that for a while all that he could say was "Wonderful! Wonderful!" On Seeing the plaque placed in memory of the Rev. C.W. Posnett and reading the words "he saw with his heart rather than his eye" His excellency remarked "Only a man who can see with heart can construct this beautiful Sanctuary".
We also had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Sarin the one time adviser to the former Governor, his excellency Kandhubhai Desai, and Mrs. Sarin, who also were struck with the exceptional beauty of the Church. Recently both the Chief Ministers of our state i.e., Sri N. Chandra Babu Naidu in 1999 and Sri Y.S. Rajashakera Reddy in 2004 during the Cathedral, 80th Anniversary visited.
Many number of VIPs, who came to Medak or go through Medak, deem it a pleasure to drop into admire the church and all that is in it. Conclusion:
I am remined of the words of the first Bishop the Rt. Rev. Frank Whittaker, M.A., in connection with his appraisal of the Cathedral:
"The memory of its pious founder could not be more worthily honoured than by emulating his generosity and making it possible for this glorious House of God to fulfill for years to come its great and holy purpose".