Sunday, April 28, 2019

The story of the fifth Bishop of Calcutta

From India-

Sometime ago it was reported that the coffin of Daniel Wilson was found in a vault under the main altar of Calcutta’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Wilson was the fifth Bishop of Calcutta and founder of St. Paul’s, which came up in 1847.

“This is not some out-of-the-box discovery. We were all aware that the coffin was kept there,” says an official from St. Paul’s Cathedral who does not want to be identified. He continues, “In fact, there is a small opening on the outer wall of the cathedral for ventilation. It was kept covered so that no stray dogs could go in. We could see the ornamentation on the coffin. The remains of the bishop were never missing. It was just that we had never gone down into the vault.”

It seems Wilson himself had made provision for the vault under the altar. “There is a reference to his musings in the book, The Final Report of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta, written by Archdeacon Pratt, who was a close associate,” says senior researcher Mary Ann Dasgupta.

St. Paul’s is said to be the first Anglican cathedral of the Victorian age. In his book, Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1160-1947, Phillip Davies writes: “The building was constructed in a peculiar brick especially prepared for the purpose, which combined lightness with compressional strength; the dressings were of Chunar stone, and the whole edifice was covered inside and out with polished chunam.” Up the stairs of the cathedral and next to the main door is a marble bust. Would that be of Wilson? No, it belongs to Reginald Heber, who was Bishop of Calcutta in 1827.

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