05/06/2022, 15.03
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New church in Taxila, where the Apostle Thomas preached

by Shafique Khokhar

Solemnly inaugurated by Archbishop Joseph Arshad, the church is located in Rawalpindi district, home to many industries, near the archaeological site of ancient Sirkap. Before, “there was no church in Taxila,” said Fr Shamaun, the new parish priest. “It is a true miracle [. . .]  after more than 25 years of battles”. The church will draw locals but also pilgrims.

Taxila (AsiaNews) – On Monday, Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, together with priests from his archdiocese, solemnly inaugurated and blessed the new Catholic church of St Thomas the Apostle, in Taxila Cantonment, Rawalpindi district, Punjab province.

According to tradition, Saint Thomas arrived in the area in 33 AD to preach the Gospel to the poor. Today, Taxila is known for its heavy industries in the defence and engineering sectors.

After blessing the doors and the altar, the archbishop led the Eucharistic celebration in the new church in the presence of a large number of nuns from different congregations, as well as catechists and worshippers.

Saint Thomas is considered the Apostle of Asia. Historical sources indicate that after the resurrection of Jesus he reached the area of ​​present-day India and Pakistan where he worked as a builder and was greatly admired for his skills.

At that time, King Gondophares ruled the region from his capital, of Sirkap, which today is an archaeological site on the bank opposite the city of Taxila, 35 km from Islamabad.

For Fr James Shamaun, the new parish priest, the place where the church was built is close to where the apostle used to preach.

“The inauguration of this beautiful church is a historic moment; previously, there was no church in Taxila. We all prayed and celebrated in the open air,” he explained. “It is a true miracle that God has given us this land and after more than 25 years of battles, the project was approved.”

With the Church of St Thomas completed, Archbishop Arshad thanked Fr Shamaun for his dedication to getting it built for local Catholics and future pilgrims who will come from near and far.

“We are grateful to Saint Thomas the Apostle for choosing this continent and harvesting the seeds of faith in our land,” said the prelate. “Today the completion of this church is a test of the faith of the people.”

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”