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  • MISSIONARIES  (5 items)




    Reverend Charles Theophilus Ewald Rhenius - The Apostle of Tirunelveli (5 November 1790 – 5 June 1838) was a German born missionary of the Church Mission Society (CMS). He was the first CMS missionary to arrive at India. For his missionary work in the Tirunelveli district he came to be known as the "Apostle of Tirunelveli" He was involved in the attempt to revise the Fabricius version of the Tamil Bible and also published a Tamil grammar book. Rhenius’ split from the Anglican Church in 1830 and started his own congregation. Rhenius' work was recognized in 1978 by the Reverend Daniel Abraham, the then Church of South India (CSI) bishop of Tirunelveli diocese. Rhenius's work was given official recognition by the Anglican Communion during the Tirunelveli diocese bicentenary celebration in 1978, in which, all the bishops, including Anglican bishop Stephen Neill and all the presbyters took an oath in front of the tomb of Rev Rhenius to follow the path of the resting soul, regard to evangelism

    Early life

    Charles Rhenius was the second son of Otto Gottlieb Nikolaus Rhenius, an officer in the Prussian army. When Charles was six years old, his father died. Charles left school when he was fourteen and went to work in his uncle’s office. After he had worked for three years another uncle called him to come and live with him. This uncle was a rich landowner. There were many missionary magazines in his uncle’s house. As he read these, Charles felt God was calling him to go overseas as a missionary. Though his uncle was unhappy about his decision, he accepted it. But his aunt tried to get him to change his mind. Charles had to struggle in prayer to overcome the temptation. As his uncle had no children, he planned to leave all his property to Charles[3]. Rhenius went to Berlin to study theology at a missionary college of Basel. When he left home he did not dare to tell his family of his final plans. When his suspicious mother Catharina Dorothea Schiemann, implored him not to go overseas, Rhenius replied "Dear mother, what am I to do if the Lord should so order it?. After a year at the seminary Charles Rhenius was ordained as a Lutheran presbyter.

    With the Church Mission Society

    In the early 19th century, the Church Mission Society was looking for missionaries for Dr John’s Schools of the Danish Mission at Tharangambadi in India. Among those who came forward, Rhenius and Schmarre were selected and given orientation on mission skills for 18 months in England. In 1813, the British parliament passed a new Act.[4] This Act allowed missionaries freedom to enter India.[5][6]. Both could get a berth on a ship only in February 1814. At the last minute his family tried to stop Rhenius going to India. His brother appealed to him by writing that their mother was weeping for him. CMS arranged a farewell meeting for him that was attended by more than 2,000 people.

    Rhenius's journey to India was eventful: he experienced a fire aboard the ship and it was almost wrecked near Maldives. They reached safely Madras, only to learn that Dr John, under whose aegis they had planned to work as missionaries, was dead. Rhenius and Schmarre managed to stay for two weeks with the chaplain of the British East India Company in Madras. Then they went to Tharangambadi to learn the Tamil language.

    Missionary work in Madras

    After five months of language training, Rhenius was asked to come back to Madras, as CMS had decided to engage him in their own mission called Mission in Madras, instead of helping the Danish Mission at Tharangambadi. The Madras Governor gave permission to work in the Black Town of Madras. The rented a house belonging to a Hindu. This facilitated to study the Hindu scriptures and he visited the Kanchipuram temple as well. Through his studies, Rhenius came to believe that Hindus had once believed in one supreme god and the current polytheism was a later development. He fashioned his proselytizing method according to the belief - by appealing Hindus to go back to monotheism and the worship of Jesus Christ. He started a school in the Black Town, Madras. When the Hindus in Kanchipuram invited him to start a school, he agreed. After starting several schools in Madras, he extended his missionary work to Palmaner and Vandavasi, where he was exposed to the religious doctrines of Jainism. During his travel he recorded in his diary that the caste Hindus did not allow him to enter their house and on one occasion he had to spend the night in a cow shed.

    In 1815, the Bible Society in Calcutta decided to revise the Johann Phillip Fabricius version of the Tamil Bible. Rhenius was asked to help with the revision. Assisted by a Munshi he set to work on the revision. On his travels Rhenius had talked with many Hindus. He found that very often they could not under stand the Bible translation of Fabricius. Further a conversation with a Brahmin showed what great care was needed in translating the idiomatic expressions. They were discussing Matthew 3:7, "you snakes..". The Brahmin had taken the words literally - he thought the people had really turned into snakes[7] This made Rhenius realize that a revision of the Bible was not sufficient - a new translation was necessary. He began a new translation of the New Testament. When he showed his translation to his Hindu friends, they had said that they could understand his translation. He wrote down some principles of translation. Thous his ideas on translation were not accepted in his time, they are similar to the current ones followed by the Bible Society. On 5 November 1817, a group of Protestants, Roman Catholics and Hindus met in Madras and formed the Tamil Bible Association. Rhenius also wrote a work of Tamil grammar titled "A Grammar of the Tamil Language: With Appendix", which was published by the American Mission Press at Madras in 1859.

    Missionary work in Tirunelveli

    In 1816, the historian, the Reverend James Hough, was the chaplain to the English garrison in the Palayamkottai fort and cantonment. He was interested in village ministry and wrote to the CMS asking for a missionary. By this time, the differences of opinion between Rhenius and the Madras Committee of the CMS had grown greatly. Rhenius was at the point of resigning and going home. However, the CMS did not want to lose a skilled missionary and suggested that he could go to Palayamkottai to assist Hough. Rhenius arrived in Tirunelveli on 7 July 1820. The first CMS congregation in Palayamkottai (present day Holy Trinity Cathedral, Palayamkottai) came into existence on 10 March 1822 and adjutant (current venue of Cathedral Higher Secondary School, Palayamkottai) to the CMS Church, Murugankuruchi, Rhenius started the Palamcottah Preparandi Institution. In 1824, he purchased valuable property to the north of the High Road in Palayamkottai (current venue of the Bishop Sergeant Training School, Palayamkottai) from his Hindu friend and philanthropist, Vengu Mudaliar, for a confessional price of just Rs. 750.00 and shifted the Preparandi School to the newly acquired campus. Operating from Palayamkottai, Rhenius covered a number of villages all over the Tirunelveli district, which include the current Thoothukudi district and part of Ramnathapuram district and planted small congregations. Solaikudiyiruppu is one of the oasis villages in the sandy dunes of Kudiramozhi Theri. When Rhenius visited Solaikudiyiruppu, the Mukandar of Solaikudiyiruppu Village was Velu Muthu Nadar. Rhenius converted Velu Muthu who was baptisied as "Vedha Muthu". Vedha Muthu, was the first Protestant Christian in the Megnanapuram Circle.

    Villages of refuge

    During the 18th century, Christian missionaries had witnessed persecution of converts coinciding with the Polygar Wars, by clubmen from the state of Ramanathapuram.[9]. To protect the new converts, Sundaranandam David,[10] a disciple of Rev. C. F. Schwartz, established a Christian satellite village - called Mudhalur, meaning First Village - near Sathankulam, which served as a refuge for local Christians. Following the Mudalur pattern, Rhenius started several Christian satellite villages, including Neduvilai (later known as Megnanapuram) (1825), Idayankulam (1827), Asirvathapuram (1828), Nallur (1832) and Surandai (1833). In 1827, Rhenius created a settlement for the Christians of Puliakurichi in a village he purchased with money donated by a Prussian nobleman, Count Dohna of Scholodin, and named it after him as Dohnavur. The village later became the place where Ami Carmichael founded the Dohnavur Fellowship to protect women rescued from prostitution.

    Split from the CMS

    In 1832, Rev. Rhenius wrote to the Madras Corresponding Committee of the CMS that an urgent need for more trained and ordained catechists, pastors, and teachers had prompted him to provide special training for some of the most promising young men, seven of whom he had ordained. Until now, precedents going back to Thanjavur and Tranquebar had been followed, whereby the local missionary enjoyed considerable autonomy in such matters. But the CMS Committee was now of the opinion that, although many Indians might have previously received ‘Lutheran orders’, the time for a change had arrived. Daniel Wilson, the new Bishop of Calcutta, indicated that loyalty to the Church of England required that workers under the CMS should henceforth be ordained, if at all, only according to the Church of England rites and not according to those of the Lutherans. Rhenius and his colleague, Bernard Schmidt, replied that their newly trained workers, as catechists, pastors, and teachers, had conscientious objections to following this new instruction.

    At about the same time, Rhenius wote to the new Bishop of Calcutta welcoming him to India and extending to him an invitation to visit Palaiyamkottai as soon as possible. His reports, having dwelt at length on mass conversions then taking place, stressed the need for pastors to watch over new Christians and the recent ordination of seven promising young men. The reply he received, indirectly, declared that his actions were invalid and reprimanded him for violating the apostolic succession. Having waited in vain for the Archdeacon to publish his long dormant review, Rev. Rhenius published the review himself.

    No mention was made of a second pamphlet that Rhenius had published at the very same time, entitled Union of Christians, an Address to all Christians, especially to all Ministers of the Gospel. He had attempted to bring about harmony among missionaries of different backgrounds. Instead publication of the first pamphlet provoked a drastic response. The conflict between the Anglican Diocese of Calcutta and Rhenius reached a low point after six catechists of Rhenius' choice refused to be ordained at Madras by the Anglican Bishop John Matthias Turner of Calcutta. A letter of dismissal was delivered to Rhenius by two CMS officers, informing him that his connection with the CMS was at an end and that, since the ‘territory’ in which he had been working belonged to the CMS, he should forthwith depart from Tirunelveli. He handed over all his belongings to Rev. John Tucker; along with his German colleagues he left for Thoothukudi, hired a boat and sailed to Madras. From there Rhenius traveled to Arcot, where he planned to start his own mission.

    About the circumstances of his original appointment, Rhenius wrote at length:

    When my fellow-labourer [Schnarre] and I were sent out to India, now twentyone years ago, no question was ever put to us on the subject of conformity to the Church of England nor have I received a single application from the Society to conform. I never concealed my sentiments and mode of proceeding I never promised to submit to the English bishops, not even to observe the Church of England forms. No such promise was even asked of me. The Committee of the Society, at that early period, did not even expect that German clergymen should conform to the Church of England.

    Several catechists from Tirunelveli appealed to him to return, and Rhenius decided to do so. There, in reduced circumstances, both in Suveshipuram (‘Town of Salvation’) where a house was established in his honour, and in Tirunelveli itself where houses were made available to him, he tried to carry on his work. Money for his support came from all over India and from Europe. In Palayamkottai, the supporters of Rev. Rhenius stopped going to the CMS Church and started a prayer hall (The Present Chinna Koil - "St. John Church" ) for their worship at Aadaikalapuram. Similar splits happened in all the places, where Rhenius had planted churches, including Solaikudiyiruppu. Efforts to reconcile Rhenius and the CMS failed.

    Death and legacy





    Tomb of Rev. C T E Rhenius at Adaikalapuram, TirunelveliRhenius' health began to fail under the tension and strain caused by the division in the churches. He wanted every one to have a copy of the Bible in the language they could understand. On 5 June 1838, he signed notes to be sent to people in Palayamkottai. In these notes, he asked for subscriptions to the Madras Auxiliary of the Bible Society[12]. On the same evening at 7:30 pm Rhenius died. He was 48 years old at the time of his death. He was buried at Adaikalapuram, Palayamkottai. Rhenius's missionary work was recognized by the Tirunelveli Diocese of the Church of South India (CSI) during the diocese's bicentenary Celebrations in 1978. Rhenius tomb is currently being maintained by the Diocese. During his 15 years in Tirunelveli, Rhenius had set up as many as 371 congregations. His contemporary, the Jewish missionary Dr Wolf, who stayed with Rhenius for a week during September 1833 regarded him as the greatest missionary who had appeared since St. Paul.

    Source - wikipedia- kuttyjaskar

    Rev. Canon Arthur Margoschis














     St.John’s Cathedral,Nazareth

    Many eminent Missionaries rendered significant services not only to the growth of Christianity but also to the development of Nazareth in manifold dimensions. Of whom, the contribution of Canon A. Margoschis to the many sided growth of this village is matchless and unique. It is quite fitting to call the Rev. Canon Arthur Margoschis as “FATHER OF NAZARETH”. Words are inadequate to express the magnitude of works passionately done by him to this rural area. The remarkable development of Nazareth with the educational insititutions, the orphanage and Art Industrial School, the hospital and the church is principally due to the result of the untiring and unparalleled service and efforts of the great missionary Canon A. Margoschis.

    The fact that cannot or should not escape our knowledge is that during decades of the 19th Century, Nazareth was identified as a small hamlet situated near Valaiyadi or Vahuthankuppam and the people of Nazareth had to get things from the shops or the neighbouring villages crossing the sandy soil clustered with the bush and trees. Such a backward un-recognised hamlet has become a recognized and developed place with all facilities owing to the pioneering work, meticulously done by canon Margoschis, inspite of many untold difficulties. “Great actions speak great minds” says John Fletcher.

    It is of great interest to know a little about the life of such great man and also his great deeds done to this village. Arthur Margoschis, the eighth and last child to his parents was born on 24-12-1852 at Leamington, England and was broughtup in good Christian tradition. He had good education and was a gem of students. Though he had suffered a lot from Asthma from his childhood, he was very firm in using himself in the service of His Master, Jesus Christ. The burning zeal in him to become a missionary drove him to learn theology and then medicine. It was so dramatic that he embraced the work of a missionary when he was doing his final year of medicine. God found a great missionary in him and sent him to this place as His servant.

    To epoch-making event in the history of Nazareth is that Canon A. Margoschis became the missionary of Nazareth in December 1876. He plunged into his work with enthusiasm and felt the need to do a lot to alleviate the sufferings of the helpless and poverty stricken people. Religion did not engender in Canon Margoschis the desire to run away or escape from the problem of life, On the contrary, his deep commitment to religion kept him in the service of the needy also. A few of his important works be mentioned.

    Canon Margoschis gave a paramount importance to spiritual life and proved himself and eminent missionary in many a way. “Special Gospel campaign” among Hindus was vigorously done. Consequently thousands of persons were converted to Christianity. Scripture classes were conducted not only to children but also to the old people. As the number of Christians increased, the then church became too small to hold the congregation. He took efforts to extend the area of the church so as to accommodate more number of people. The newly constructed altar of the then Church was dedicated by him in 1884. The deadly cholera spread during 1902 was shocking but was a blessing in disguise. His faith in God was so great that he wished to have the communion service everyday since 6-12-1902 as a remedy to the dreadful malady. Communion being served everyday in this Church even to-day is a rarity found in a few churches only. “Nazareth Children’s Mission” was organized by him in 1903. He adopted different methods of raising funds from the local people for self-support. He was contemplating the construction of a bigger church to accommodate the ever increasing number of Christians at Nazareth. But his death on 27-4-1908 snatched him away from fulfilling his ardent wish.

     St. Luke’s Hospital, Nazareth :

    Though it was founded in the year 1870 by Dr. J.M. Strachan, the monumental growth was under the able stewardship of Canon A. Margoschis. As he had the knowledge of medicine, he could do marvelous medical service, helping thousands of sick flocking even from 20 to 30 miles away. This service was rendered freely to all irrespective of caste and creed. There was a dire need to provide more facilities to the swelling number of sick in the hospital with wards, compounding room etc., To meet the requirements, the main building of the hospital was built by him in 1892 and the hospital was Christened “St. Luke’s Hospital” by him on the day of St. Luke’s (18th October) in 1892. With this meritorious medical service, he was esteemed a ‘Life – saver’. The command of Lord Jesus Christ, “Heal the sick …. Preach the Gospel” was faithfully followed by this medical officer-in-charge of the hospital from the year of his arrival in 1876 to the time of his death in 1908.

    The ravage of famine swept away 25% of the local population and left many helpless. Owing to acute poverty and deadly diseases many were in untold miseries and became orphans. Canon Margoschis the only hope of the deserted people, built a small hut hundred yards away from his bungalow for the orphans in 1877. As the number of orphans increased, he took all efforts to put up a building for them and the same was built in 1878 in the place where the Art Industrial School is now. He was made aware of his responsibilities and obligations towards the less-privileged and was very anxious to introduce teaching for them on industrial courses. Hence he founded the Art Industrial School in the orphanage itself on 14-11-1878. Carpentry, Black-smithy and sewing courses were started and then weaving section was introduced. In 1884, the first sewing machine was bought and the art of tailoring was introduced. The lower Secondary Training was provided and in 1900, Upper Secondary Training was transferred from Tuticorin to Nazareth. He was the manager of the school till his death. In those days the Art Industrial School, the brain-child of Canon Margoschis, was praised as the only one of its kind in the district and the oldest in the Presidency of Madras. He lovingly adopted orphans and carried out the responsibilities of a father. “Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these brethren, ye have done it unto me” -St. Mathew XXV,40

    Girls High School

    Canon Margoschis was made superintendent of the school 1876 itself. He founded Teachers Training School in 1877. He also stressed the need for good education to women and started kindergarten school. In 1886, he made a historic achievement of upgrading the Normal school to a High School. The school became a full-fledged high school in 1888 and the first set of women in the Presidency of Madras to pass the Matriculation Examination was from this school. The Standard of the school was very much appreciated by the Director of Public Instruction in 1890. This school is the first high school for women in south India.

    Boy’s High School :

    Canon Margoschis founded a Middle school for boys in 1882 in the name “Anglo – Vernacular School”. It is heartening to know that in 1885 ; this school was awarded “ The Best School” title in the Presidency of Madras, He made a successful venture of upgrading it as “High School “ in 1889 inspite of the stiff opposition from the then Bishop Rt. Rev. Caldwell. This infuriated the Bishop who closed down the High School section in 1892.

    Theological Seminary :

    Another brain – child of Canon Margoschis was the Theological Seminary. It was founded by him in 1890 with eight students. It had grown from strength to strength in the following years.

    Other Developments and Benefits :

    Since Canon Margoschis adopted Nazareth as his “Child”, he put his heart and soul to see Nazareth filled with many blessings of God. With the help of the orphans and hired laborers, he laid the metal road from Nazareth to Valaiyadi and planted trees on both sides. Telegraphic office was opened on

    25-12-1894, as a result of the initiative taken by him. He showed interest in town planning also and the 5th street was formed by him. As a result of his efforts, the original plan to lay the railway line from Tirunelveli to Tiruchendur via. Thenthiruperai was changed and it was decided to lay it via. Nazareth. This monumental work, which transformed the very face of Nazareth, was put into operation a few years after his death.

    Adult Education Programme was launched by him in 1880 at Nazareth and other neighboring villages. “S.P.G. Nazareth Christian Death Aid-Fund” was setup by him on 1-4-1884. It is gratifying to note that by the end of 1900, Rs. 66,331 was contributed to the bereaved families. He founded “S.P.G. Widows’ Association” to help the helpless widows. Such were the manifold benefits which the people of Nazareth enjoyed owing to his selfless service. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” – St. Mathew XXV, 12.

    The Great Man, who had endeared himself to the people of Nazareth passed away on 27th April 1908 and the sad news gave a rude jolt to them. The loss was irreparable. They wanted to build a bigger church in memory of him but later the idea was changed to be in conformity with his lofty ideals. The Boy’s High School was named after him. Recently a college was built here in memory of him. We owe it to posterity to perpetuate the memory of such a great missionary, by means of such things which will truly reveal the man and inspire others to follow the ideals which he symbolised.

    The 32 years of selfless service of Canon A. Margoschis has left an indelible mark on the History of this area. His dedicated service to this people will remain a memorable historical fact for people of all religions and cultural traditions. He excelled all other missionaries who came before and after him to Nazareth by virtue of being not only a missionary but also being a doctor an educationist, a philanthropist, a philosopher, a guide, a friend, a father and what not. When Canon A. Margoschis left this world on 1908, he left behind the memory of a great and good life, lived usefully a memory that has become a legacy, one that deserves to be passed on to generations unborn.

    “ Lives of great men all remind us

    We Can make our lives sublime

    And, departing, leave behind us

    Foot prints on the sands of time “





  • Mossionaries in Sawyerpuram  (5 items)


    Tirunelveli – the biggest of the Dioceses that formed the Church of South India in 1947, is the consummation of the labours from time to time of Missionary Societies in the West – SPCK, CMS, SPG. For very long the name ‘Tirunelveli’ has been known all over Christendom as that of a field most congenial to the sowing of the Gospel and very responsive to the missionary effort. Surveying it in 1857, Dr. Caldwell wrote with just elation, “there the eye and heart … are gladdened by the sight of the largest, the most thriving, and the most progressive Christian community in India"



    George Uglow Pope was born on 24 April 1820 in Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia. His family migrated to England when he was an infant. Even as a child he cultivated many  languages. He left for South India in 1839. It was at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin.

         Sawyerpuram is a town panchayat in Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu, India. Since missionary Dr. G. U. Pope ministered in this place the population is predominantly Christian. This place is an historical and religious place. It was first a settlement of persecuted Christians on land provided by Mr. Sawyer, an Anglo-Indian layman in the employ of the East India Company. The village thus formed in 1814 was gratefully named after him as Sawyerpuram. The Christian settlers quickly organized themselves, and by 1838 had built for themselves a small church and a school attended by 10 children. However, it was with the advent of intrepid young Dr. G. U. Pope in 1842 that Sawyerpuram shot into prominence in the annals of missionary history. He established in 1844 the renowned “Sawyerpuram Seminary”, which for a long time was the nursery of hundreds of Indian clergymen, teachers and catechists. The esteem in which this reputable centre of learning was held can be seen from the fact that the Oxford University contributed to the formation of a suitable library within its walls. Dr.G.U Pope is a Tamil Patron.

    "The Student of Tamil" bloomed into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. Pope setup several schools and taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics and Philosophy. As he was a martinet he was always in trouble. Of him Bishop Caldwell said: "The chief drawback to his success was the severity of his discipline which led, after a succession of petty rebellions, to his withdrawal". Pope believed in the theory: "Things have tears". He worked with the motto: "Conscience within and God above". He completed his translation of Tirukkural on September 1, 1886. His "Sacred Kural" contains introduction, grammar, translation, notes, lexicon and concordance. It also includes the English translation of F.W.Ellis and the Latin Translation of Fr. Beschi. It is a tome of 436 pages. He had, by February 1893, translated Naaladiyaar. His magnum opus, the translation of Tiruvachakam appeared in 1900. Of this he says: "I date this on my eightieth birthday. I find, by reference, that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. This ends, as I suppose a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. It is not without deep emotion that I thus bring to a close my life's literary work". The much coveted Gold Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society was awarded to him in 1906. He passed away on 12 February 1908. The services of this great soul to Tamil and Saivism defy reckoning by weights and measures. In his last days he was a mature Saiva Siddhanti, with his faith as ever rooted in Chiristianity. He delivered his last sermon on May 26, 1907.

    Dr. G U Pope’s efforts were equally directed to the extension of the Church. He built the All Saints Church at nearby Subramaniapuram enduring extreme hostility and insult. The lovely red-brick Holy Trinity Church at Sawyerpuram was built by Rev. Huxtable and Rev. Sharrock and dedicated on 11 November 1877 by the Most Rev. Johnson, Metropolitan of India.


    HENRY CONSTANTINO HUXTABLE was born in 1825 at Bristol. He was a Theological Scholar and Associate of King's College, London. He was ordained deacon by the Bishop of London in 1849, and went out to Madras and worked as a missionary at Christianagram from that date till 1852, when he became Principal of the Sawyerpuram Seminary. He was invalided home in 1857. He was Curate-in-charge of Hendford, YeoviL 1858-59, and Rector of Bettiscombe in Dorset, 1859-67, when he was appointed Secretary of the S.P.G. in the island of Mauritius. In 1870 he was nominated and consecrated to the Bishopric of the island. In 1871 he died.



    REV.JOHN ALFRED SHARROCK, MA(Rev.J.A.Sharrock) (1853-1932)

    Rev John Alfred Sharrock, MA (1853-1932), youngest of three sons of Rev James Sharrock. Sedbergh School, Yorkshire. Rustat Scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge (Hon Maths Tripos) 1873-77. Idaiyangudi 1878-79, Ordained Deacon by Bishop Caldwell 1879. Sick leave following malaria 1879-80. Curate, North Ormsby, Yorkshire 1880-81. Principal SPG College, Sawyerpuram 1881-83. Principal Caldwell College, Tuticorin 1883-94 (his wife, Ida née Hay, and baby daughter, Gwendoline, died Tuticorin 1893). Cuddalore 1894. Tiruchirappalli ('Trichy') 1895-1909 (vice Joseph Wyatt): Sick leave 1899-1900 (while acting as curate to the vicar, his brother William, at Driffield, Yorkshire); Combined his post as superintending missionary at Trichy with Principal of the SPG College there (later 'Bishop Heber College') 1907-09. Home leave and retirement after 31 years in India 1909-10. Published: "South India Missions" (SPG) 1910, "Musings of a Missionary" (Roffey & Clarke) 1921. A clever, highly practical man (a mathematician) of great mental and physical energy, and capable of a huge work rate. Described as "a man after Dr Johnson's heart", he had immense courage, was never afraid to speak his mind, but was handicapped by a pugnacious temperament which caused him much trouble.

    Source -The British Empire/kuttyjaskar

    Sawyerpuram was also the venue of the first experiment in “Medical Evangelism”. From the small beginning of a clinic set up in 1854 there sprang up St. Raphael’s Hospital, which became increasingly popular and did signal service during the outbreak of epidemics following the famine of 1877-1879.It is significant that Dr. Pope’s Seminary blossomed into a College and was affiliated to the University of Madras in 1880. Rev. Sharrock was its first Principal. Bishop Caldwell thought it good to shift the College along with the High School to Tuticorin, leaving Sawyerpuram with a Middle School in 1883. Again the school got developed and at present it is a Higher secondary school with a history of more than 160 years. Many educational institutions were also developed and Sawyerpuram is well known in southern districts of Tamilnadu for its educational institutions. These include; the Holy Trinity Church, the Pope Memorial Higher Secondary School, Popes College, Dr. G.U Pope Engineering College , St. Mary's Girls' Higher Secondary School and B.Ed college Sawyerpuram.


    H. A.Krishnapillai (1827 - 1900)

    Henry Alfred Krishnapillai (1827 - 1900) was a well known poet in Tamil language. He was born in a Vaishnavite Hindu family, but later converted to Christianity. Even after his convertion, he ratained his Hindu surname. He was an accomplished Tamil teacher and hence after his conversion sought to work on Tamil literary works. After his retirement he worked on his magnum opus, Ratchanya Yaatrigam. This work was based on John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, although not a translation. The work itself took 16 years to complete and is considered as one of finest work of Tamil literature of the nineteenth century.

    Krishnapillai is well known to use analogies from Hindu text in his Christian writings. His Christian hymns are still popular among Tamil Protestants. These hymns are said to be similar in style to Hindu text Tevaram. He is sometimes referred to as "Christian Kamban" for his work on Tamil Christian literature.

    Early life

    Krishna Pillai was born in 1827 at Karaiyiruppa, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. He was born into an orthodox Hindu family belonging to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. He received his early education in Tamil grammar and literature in the village.

    Conversion to Christianity

     In May 1853, he moved to Sawyerpuram, a Christian hamlet. The settlement was founded by the Society for Propagation of the Gospel.There Krishnapillai was appointed as a Tamil teacher by Bishop Robert Caldwell.It was in Sawyerpuram that he first encountered Christianity through his friends and eventually was baptised an Anglican in the St Thomas Church in Mylapore, Chennai. He was christened Henry Alfred through his baptism but he still retained his Hindu name Krishna Pillai. Later in 1875, he was appointed as a Tamil pundit at Church Missionary Society (CMS) college at Tirunelveli.

    Tamil Christian literature

    After his retirement, Krishnapillai aspired to write Tamil Christian classics along the lines of Hindu epics. Hence, he spent the 16 years writing the book Rakshanya Yatrikam (the journey of salvation, 1894). This work was modeled after John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Nevertheless, it was not a translation but an adaptation of the story in Tamil.[1] This work is considered as his masterpiece. He had read the Pilgrim's Progress even before his conversion and had planned to retell the story in Tamil verses. However, he started working on it only in 1878 to appear serially in Friendly Instructor. He fell ill with malaria in 1879, and then, with encouragement from his friends, Krishnapillai decided to compile the work in an epic form similar to the Tamil Ramayana. After 16 years, it was sent to print in 1894 and is considered one of the most significant Tamil poetry works of the nineteenth century.

    In addition to this masterpiece, Krishnapillai wrote several other books in Tamil on Christianity. Although he was a converted Christian, he used many analogies from Hindu text in his work.[1] He is sometimes referred to as Christian Kamban. Some of the hymns he composed are still prevalent amongst Tamil Protestants. His hymns were based on Hindu texts such as Tevaram.



  • History of Tirunelveli Diocese  (4 items)

    History of Tirunelveli Diocese

     The formation of tiny congregation at Palayamkottai consisting of just 40 members, the first being Clarinda, was the humble beginning of the Diocese of Tirunelveli, the biggest in Asia now. The infant church was nursed and nourished by the foreign missionaries from Trustbuster like Schwartz and Jaenicke and a few indigenous stalwarts like Sathianathan, Royappan, Savarirayan, Savarimuthu and Anandapragasam. Good news was spread to many areas, and churches were established in different parts of Tirunelveli District. The establishment of a church at Mudalur the first Christian village in 1799 was momentous event in the annals of the history of the Tirunelveli Diocese. It paved way for the "en masse" conversion of Nadars thanks to the enthusiastic and indefatigable ministry among them by David Sundaranandam Gericke and Kohlhoff. James Hough oversaw the missionary work of the SPCK after Schwartz and Jaenicke.

    The Church Missionary Society (CMS) and the Society for Propagation of Gospel (SPG) entered the Tirunelveli field and went on planting Churches besides looking after the existing churches for almost a hundred years till they merged into the Diocesan main stream in 1924. CTE Rhenius was head and shoulders above the rest in the CMS. Apart from building the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Palayamkottai, he planted 371 churches including Meignanapuram, Dohnavur, Pannaivilai and Nallur. No wonder, he is considered the greatest missionary after St. Paul and called "The Apostle of Tirunelveli. Pettitt, John Thomas, Tucker, Schaffter, Hobbs, Barenbruck were the other important CMS Missionaries who laboured in the Tirunelveli Vineyard.

    Nazareth, Sawyerpuram and Idayangudi were the important fields nursed by the SPG missionaries. The Rev Caemmerer and the Rev Canon A Margoschis worked strenuously for the stabilization of the Churches around Nazareth. Schools and a hospital were established at Nazareth, a model Christian settlement. Sawyer, a layman working for the East India Company, formed a village exclusively for Christians and it is called Sawyerpuram after him. Dr. GU Pope and Rev. Huxtable developed it into a model village. Dr Robert Caldwell burnt himself for the establishment and development of many churches including Idaiyangudi, a village far away from Tirunelveli.

    Ever since Tirunelveli was upgraded into a Diocese in 1896, it has been casting its net wide and deep. Many pastorates in the East and South have adopted a village in the northern part of the Diocese. This scheme has been paying rich dividends. Besides, Tirunelveli Diocese has introduced outreach ministry. Committed people, clergy and laity, go to other districts for gospel work during the first week of September every year. It established the first indigenous missionary organization called Indian Missionary Society (IMS) in 1903 to take the good news to the unreached areas in other states. The Rt. Rev V. S. Azariah, the first Indian Bishop, is one of the fruits of Tirunelveli Diocese. Now, the Diocese has 287 thousand members spread over 138 Pastorates in 1166 villages.

    Apart from spiritual work, Tirunelveli Diocese has been striving hard to address to the economic, educational and social needs of the poor, the aged, the mentally retarded, the visually disabled etc. The fruits of this Diocese are in every nook and corner of globe bearing witness to the Good Shepherd.

         "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy" Psalm 126:3.

    Missionaries at Tirunelveli Diocese

    Tirunelveli – the biggest of the Dioceses that formed the Church of South India in 1947, is the consummation of the labours from time to time of Missionary Societies in the West – SPCK, CMS, SPG. For very long the name ‘Tirunelveli’ has been known all over Christendom as that of a field most congenial to the sowing of the Gospel and very responsive to the missionary effort. Surveying it in 1857, Dr. Caldwell wrote with just elation, “there the eye and heart … are gladdened by the sight of the largest, the most thriving, and the most progressive Christian community in India.”

    Diverse Sowers

    Like the rest of the country, this region came to be exposed to Christianity which accompanied the European powers who came to trade with India. The earliest were the Portuguese. St. Francis Xavier, though he came with royal authority and as the Papal Nuncio to India, chose to work his own way into the hearts of the Indians. He did very effective work among the fisher folk in the East Coast of Tirunelveli around Tuticorin. He was followed by Robert Nobili, John De Bitto and Joseph Beschi. Unfortunately the great Jesuit order was suppressed in 1775 by Pope Clement, leaving the good work done by it high and dry.

    Moreover, Catholic Spain and Portugal lost their supremacy at sea and Protestant countries like Britain, Holland and later Germany emerged as the great maritime nations of the earth.

    The British East India Company was formed in 1600, followed by the Dutch East India Company in 1602. Even while competing for the Indian market, they both carried there with them all the venom with which their countries fought at home the Catholic Spain and Portugal. In 1658 the Dutch captured Tuticorin from the Portuguese, expelled the Catholic Fathers from the Fishery Coast, and tried re-converting their adherents. While the Dutch turned many Roman Churches to warehouses, they built an extremely plain but massive Church at Tuticorin, which still stands as the sole relic of an interesting though passing phase in the history of the Tirunelveli Church. Over the porch of this solid structure is inscribed the monogram of the Dutch East India Company (VOC)  with the date MDCCL (1750). This is therefore the oldest Protestant Christian Church in Tirunelveli District. With the fluctuations of political fortune it changed hands between the Dutch and the British until it was ceded peacefully by the Dutch to the British on 1st June 1825, with one condition that it should not be named after any Christian Saint. It was named “Church of Holy Trinity” as late as in 1959.

    The Dane

    The Dutch Mission in Tirunelveli was rather a passing phase. But of a more abiding and effective character was the thrust into Tirunelveli by the Danish missionaries already stationed at Tranquebar. The earliest among them – Ziegenberg and Plutschau – had landed in 1706 and had been doing excellent work all over South India. Their Journals, reading very much like chapters taken out of the Acts of the Apostles, appeared translated into English; and soon they aroused great interest among the English people. With timely reinforcement by SPCK funds, they were able to extend their missions to places like Trichy, Thanjavur, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Madras and then to Tirunelveli. Some of Schwartz’s able SPCK catechists (Savarimuthu, Rayappan, Gnanapragasam and Savarirayan) frequently visited Tirunelveli and prepared the ground. It was during his first visit to Tirunelveli (1778) that Schwartz baptized Clarinda, a Maratha Brahmin attached to the Tanjore royal family, married to an English officer from whom she learnt of Christ. Her name heads the list of names in the Tirunelveli Church Register. Before Schwartz’s second visit to Tirunelveli in 1785 Clarinda, mostly at her own expense, had erected a small but substantial church that still stands in Palayamkottai. Schwartz dedicated it in 1785 and appointed the ablest of his catechists, Sathianathan (to be ordained later in 1790) to be in charge of the new congregation.

    Rev. J.D. Jaenicke was the first Tranquebar missionary to reside in Palayamkottai and supervise the work done in Tirunelveli from 1791. In 1799 was formed the first purely Christian settlement in the district with 28 Christians – Mudalur (first village), on the initiative of David, the first convert of the place, and with the financial assistance of Captain Everett, a friend of the SPCK in Palayamkottai. The first small church built by the early Christians was burnt by the non-Christians in 1803. This resulted in a church being built with brick and mortar in 1816, which was renewed and extended by Rev. Norman in 1883. Its magnificent tower (202 ft high and the highest among the church towers of the Diocese) was added in 1929.

    Gericke and Kohloff were in nominal charge of SPCK mission in Tirunelveli after Schwartz and Jaenicke. The field work was left to the 30 SPCK catechists. The terrible famine of 1810-1811 took a heavy toll of the Christians, and the opposition to Christians stiffened everywhere. It was then that Rev. James Hough, who became the Government Chaplain in Tirunelveli in 1816, held the breach so valiantly.

    The two mainstreams

     “I planted, Apollos watered; But God gave the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:6)

    What St. Paul said of the early Church is remarkably true of Tirunelveli as well. Schwartz planted it and left it to the care of Sathianathan and his band of catechists. The sapling Church was watered by the SPCK missionaries operating from Tranquebar and Tanjore, and at a time of drought saved by Rev. James Hough – providentially posted then as Army Chaplain at Palayamkottai. From the twenties of the 19th century there flowed in two main streams to water this promising field. One was the Church Missionary Society (CMS) which rushed its men to Tirunelveli in 1820 in response to a SOS from Hough. The other was the Society for the Propagation of Gospel (SPG) to which SPCK transferred its field in 1825. Together they took charge of all further expansion of the Tirunelveli Church unit until it blossomed into a Bishopric in 1896, and the two missions themselves merged their  fields into a single Diocese in 1924.

    CMS (1820-1896)

    Of the two missions CMS had an early start. On the day its first missionary, C.T.E.Rhenius (5.11. 1790), set foot in Tirunelveli (7th July 1820) The Church in Tirunelveli might be said to have come into its own. Acquiring for CMS the valuable property which Hough had purchased from Vengu Mudaliar in 1818 to the south of the main road in Palayamkottai, Rhenius and his assistant Schmid, soon got entrenched in a strategic complex from where they began to operate their mission. The first CMS congregation in Palayamkottai (Murugankurichi) came into existence on 10th March 1822, and the earlier SPCK congregations gradually got merged with the CMS congregations. Even the ones like Nazareth were entrusted by the SPCK to the care of Rhenius until the SPG could find the manpower to take them over in 1829. In 1824 Rhenius purchased from his Hindu friend and philanthropist, Vengu Mudaliar, for a concessional price of Rs. 750, the valuable property to the north of the High Road in Palayamkottai. Shifting the Seminary across the road to the newly acquired campus, he planned and built on the land so released a church which, with its lofty steeple added by Pettitt in 1845 and its several extensions from time to time, stands today as the Holy Trinity Cathedral, an imposing landmark in the whole district.

    Operating from Palayamkottai, Rhenius touched a number of villages all over the district and planted small congregations (Sattankulam 1823, Neduvilai / Megnanapuram 1825, Idayankulam 1827, Asirvathapuram 1828, Nallur 1832, Surandai 1833). Where the early Christians met with persecution, Rhenius helped to colonise them in safe Christian  Settlements. Thus he colonized in 1827 the Christians of Puliakurichi in a village he purchased out of money donated by a devout Prussian gentleman, Count Dohna of Scholodin, and named it after him as Dohnavur.

    It was just when Rhenius stood at the crest of his missionary career that there burst out an unfortunate schism in the Tirunelveli Mission of the CMS. His health began to fail under the tension and strain caused by it, and on 5th June 1838 at 7:30 pm the Apostle to Tirunelveli quietly entered into the presence of his Lord and Master. By intense and systematic work Rhenius had set up as many as 371 congregations in Tirunelveli all within 15 years, which made Dr. Wolf, the great Jewish missionary – who came and stayed with Rhenius for a week during September 1833 – regard him as the greatest missionary who had appeared since St. Paul. His grave in Adaikalapuram, just a few yards off the national highway, is being treasured as the resting place of the most restless of the missionaries who ever came to India.

    The man chosen by the CMS to take the place of Rhenius was Rev. George Pettitt who is best remembered as the builder of the stately steeple on the Holy Trinity Cathedral (1845) besides some solid churches in outstations like Alwarthirunagari 91846), Dohnavur (18470 and Pannaivilai (1847). He also founded the renowned Anglo-Vernacular School of Palayamkottai in 1844 with an eminent Eurasian educationist. William Cruikshank (who was blind from the age of ten), as its headmaster. This was the forerunner of  the later C.M. High School and College and the model for every Christian boarding school to follow. Pettitt was also the first to set up a Theological Seminary whose classes were held in an airy room of the newly built tower of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Palayamkottai.

    By this time CMS had wisely decided to adapt the “Station Missionary System”. Its missionaries were to be located at strategic centers, each corresponding directly with the Madras Committee. Pettitt, as the senior most among the new missionaries, was put in charge of the mission at the headquarters, Palayamkottai. Next in importance was Megnanapuram, which developed under the fostering care of Rev. John Thomas. He built the massive and imposing church capped it with a stately spire (192 feet high),  designed by the London architect, Hussey and dedicated it on 9.10.1868 in the presence of Lord Napier, Governor of Madras, who acclaimed the church as the noblest he had seen in India, surpassing in beauty even St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta. Rev. John Thomas also founded the Schools for Boys and Girls which have flourished ever since and been models for similar rural boarding schools which followed at Dohnavur, Sattankulam, Pannaivilai, Nallur and Surandai. Operating from Megnanapuram Rev. John Thomas spread the church to a network of villages around, the most important of them being Vellalanvilai, the native place of the renowned Bishop Azariah.

    Yet another station so carefully cultivated by CMS was Pannaivilai which was out and out a product of Rev. J T Tucker, who laboured there for 20 years, baptized 3000 converts and built 60 simple churches. Somehow both CMS and SPG concentrated on the east of Tirunelveli district. CMS however, penetrated to the west, south and the north as well. Nallur and Surandai in the west, were developed by Schaffter, Hobbs and Barenbruck. Dohnavur in the south was another fruitful field of the labours of the indefatigable Walker, with whose cooperation Amy Carmichael founded the renowned Dohnavur Fellowship.

    All the time Palayamkottai was being developed into a powerful CMS headquarters, with as many as 35 missionaries  stationed there in 1892 (the highest for CMS centers in the world). As an educational agency CMS made greatest impact on the community. The CMS College for men was set up in 1880, and the Sarah Tucker College for women (the first college for women in Madras state) in 1896 with just 4 students on the roll. Apart from the traditional schools, CMS started in Palayamkottai two very unique and pioneer institutions – the School for the Blind (1890) and the Florence Swainson School for the Deaf (1887). As adjuncts to its educational effort, CMS founded in 1847 its own Printing Press and CMS Book Depot in 1882. Both these ventures have survived and grown with the times.

    Later day missionaries brought their own special gifts to the service of the Tirunelveli Church. Rev. Scott Price instituted in 1892 the Tirunelveli Children’s Mission which has steadily grown into a huge movement moulding thousands of children in their impressionable age, by a systematic study of the Scriptures, to become committed Christian citizens. Walker introduced the Harvest Festivals  as something congenial to Indian mind, corresponding in a way to the Hindu “melas” or festivals. The first Harvest Festival was held in 1891 at Sachiapuram. Several centers copied the Festival – Nallur in 1892, Palayamkottai in 1895, Pannaivilai and Surandai in 1896. In January 1880 CMS and SPG joined hands in celebrating the first Centenary of Tirunelveli Church.

    The last of this long line of CMS missionaries and one who strode like a Colossus for over half a century was Edward Sargent. He came to Tirunelveli on 7-7-1835 as a 19-year old lad Lay Catechist to assist Pettitt. Except for a short spell of 4 years when he went for training in Islington, his life was devoted to missionary work in Tirunelveli, where he filled by turns every conceivable position until he was consecrated on 11.3.1877 as one of the two Assistant Bishops of Tirunelveli (along with his SPG counterpart, Bishop Caldwell) at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta. For another 13 years Bishop Sargent led the Tirunelveli Church by his wise counsel and gentle but firm guidance. Straining himself in failing health, he died in 1890. The void felt by his passing away, as also that of Bishop Caldwell in 1891, hastened the move for a separate Bishopric for Tirunelveli. It took some time, however for the legal hurdles to be overcome and the long cherished dream could materialize in 1896.

    SPG (1829 – 1896)

    The Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts had spearheaded its operation to India by 1820, established the Bishop’s College at Calcutta for the training of its personnel (15.12.1820) and chosen strategic stations for work. The SPCK on the 7th June 1825 resolved to hand over its South India Mission to SPG Tirunelveli, as one of the ‘transferred congregations’ of the Tanjore Mission. Accordingly, Rev. David Rosen at Cuddalore came to Palayamkottai on 6th November 1820 and took charge of the SPCK mission till then looked after by Rhenius on behalf of the Tanjore Mission. He began well, reviving the former SPCK stations of Nazareth and Tuticorin and set to work vigorously, appointing some inspecting Catechists on the model of Rhenius in CMS. He was given two missionaries by SPG to assist him – Rev. J L Irion and Rev. Charles Hubbard. Neither of them stuck on to work, and Rosen himself left the country in 1838 leaving SPG Mission in a sorry plight.

    It was then that Rev. Caemmerer (then at Madras) stepped in and by his devoted labours for two decades raised Nazareth to its pre-eminence in SPG Mission. The Church rapidly extended to dozens of neighbouring villages. Together they provide a splendid pattern of well knit Christian community. The visitor approaching Nazareth today is greeted by a heart-warming sight of spire rising over spire even in some humble villages, and by the chiming of Church bells in unison, inviting their faithful to worship. Pillayanmanai, Agapaikulam, Valaiyadi, Mookuperi, Pragasapuram, Oyangudi have all got some very imposing churches to show worthy monuments to the depth of the Christian life and witness among the rural folk of this area.

    Among the successors of Caemmerer mention must be made of Rev. Dr. Strachan (1870 – 1876) a brilliant Doctor of Medicine and a Gold Medalist of Edinburgh University. He was the founder of the SPG Medical Mission in Tirunelveli and the first Dispensary he opened in Nazareth drew patients from places 40 to 50 miles away.

    Already developed into a model Christian settlement, Nazareth was to attain still greater eminence during the long and dedicated stewardship of Rev. Canon Arthue Margoschis (1876 – 1908), the maker of modern Nazareth. He was a young man of 24 when he came to Nazareth,, and he plunged into his work, strengthening the existing mission and adding new dimensions to its work. He initiated the Nazareth congregation into several time-honoured habits of exemplary Churchmanship, still so faithfully retained. It was however, the various institutions that he founded and perfected in his time that have endeared his memory to posterity. He erected St. Luke’s Hospital (18920 to carry on the medical mission begun by Dr. Strachan. The Art Industrial School and its Orphanage, opened by him in 1878 to absorb usefully the large number of orphans left by the great famine of 1877, was something unique in the whole State of Madras. A Training School for Women (1877), a High School for Girls (1886) – the first of its kind in the State of Madras, a High School for Boys (1889) followed one another in quick succession, so eminently catering to the needs of the compact Christian community in and around Nazareth.

    Next in importance only to Nazareth were two other centers in and around which SPG developed its mission in Tirunelveli. They were Sawyerpuram and Idaiyangudi. The first was a settlement of persecuted Christians on land provided by one Mr. Sawyer, an Anglo-Indian layman in the employ of East India Company, who was very friendly with SPCK missionaries. The village thus formed in 1814 was gratefully named after him as Sawyerpuram. The Christian settlers quickly organized themselves, and as early as in 1838 had built for themselves a small church and a school attended by 10 children. It was, however, with the advent of intrepid young Dr. G U Pope in 1842 that Sawyerpuram shot into prominence in the annals of missionary history. He established in 1844 the renowned “Sawyerpuram Seminary”, which for a long time was the nursery of hundreds of Indian clergymen, teachers and catechists. The esteem in which this reputable center of learning was held can be seen from the fact that the Oxford University contributed to the formation of a suitable library within its walls.

    Dr. G U Pope’s efforts were equally directed to the extension of the Church. He carried the light of the Gospel into every neighbouring village, and stationed catechists trained by himself in Christian doctrine to minister to the needs of the congregations. He built the All Saints Church at Subramaniapuram enduring extreme hostility and insult. The lovely red-brick Holy Trinity Church at Sawyerpuram was built by Rev. Huxtable and Rev. Sharrock and dedicated on 11th November 1877 by the Most Rev. Johnson, Metropolitan of India.

    Sawyerpuram was also the venue of the SPG’s first experiment in “Medical Evangelism”. From the small beginning of a clinic set up in 1854 there sprang up St. Raphael’s Hospital, which became increasingly popular and did signal service during the outbreak of epidemics following the famine of 1877-1879. The hospital came under Indian leadership when Dr. A Joseph assumed charge of it and served faithfully till 1896.

    It is significant that Dr. Pope’s Seminary blossomed into a College and was affiliated to the University of Madras in 1880. Rev. Sharrock was its first Principal. Bishop Caldwell thought it good to shift the College along with the High School to Tuticorin, leaving Sawyerpuram with a Middle School in 1883.

    Based at Sawyerpuram, Dr. Pope directed his labours to Pudukottai and Puthiamputhur in the north. It is interesting that the first Church at Puthiamputhur was erected in 1844 out of funds contributed by the Sawyerpuram Church BuildingSociety. From Puthiamputhur, the Church spread north to Nagalapuram which has since been a significant Christian outpost in a predominantly backward and troubled area.

    The other SPG stronghold, Idaiyangudi (the shepherd’s dwelling) in the extreme south of Tirunelveli district, was so entirely a product of the labours of Dr. Caldwell. The village had earlier come under the influence of Gericke and Sathianathan. But the early converts, with no adequate supervision, had relapsed into Hinduism. It was among the wreck of those once Christian congregations that Caldwell was sent in 1841 to labour, to gather up the fragments that remained and restore what was lost. With such devotion and wisdom did Rev. Caldwell apply himself to his task that his rewards were phenomenal. Entire villages accepted Christ, churches and schools sprouted up so fast that Idayangudi soon became a model Christian settlement. The Holy Trinity Church, built under Caldwell’s personal supervision and even with his own labour during a period of 33 years, was consecrated by him after he became Assistant Bishop of Tirunelveli in 1880. The chiming bells were a gift from Lord Napier, then Governor of Madras. On becoming Assistant Bishop, Dr. Caldwell moved out to Tuticorin, which was his headquarters since 1983. After Bishop Sargent’s death he had for a few months the Episcopal oversight of the CMS field as well. He died while at Kodaikanal on 28-8-1891, and his body was brought to be buried so fittingly beneath the altar of the Church at Idayangudi which he built and ministered in. His passing away brought to an end the age of the mission, with the stage well set for the merging of the two fields of CMS and SPG into a single Bishopric in 1896.

    The mingling of the waters (1896 – 1924)

    For three quarters of a century the two great streams of CMS and SPG had been watering the Tirunelveli Church. The smallness of the field made it inevitable that these streams should ultimately coalesce.  The years 1896 – 1924 may be regarded as an eventful period during which the waters of these two streams began mingling, until they could issue in one single torrent as the Tirunelveli Diocese.

    The birth of the Bishopric

    Until 1896 Tirunelveli was part of the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Madras, to assist whom Dr. Sargent and Dr. Caldwell had been consecrated as Assistant Bishops in 1877. The system of “Society Bishops” was not a very satisfactory one; and with the passing away of these two stalwarts in 1890 and 1891, the SPG in particular, urged the creation of a separate bishopric for Tirunelveli, for whose endowment it generously voted in 1891 a sum of £ 5000. It took 5 years to overcome certain legal difficulties in the way; and on 28th October 1896 Rev. Samuel Morley was consecrated at Madras as Bishop of Tirunelveli and Madurai. A suitable Bishopstowe was built at Palayamkottai to provide residence for the Bishop and house his office. A lovely chapel was added to it by Bishop Waller.

    The Jubilee interlude

    Before any tangible advance could be made towards the merging of the missions, both the Societies had good reasons for pausing awhile to celebrate significant landmarks in their histories. CMS was born in London on 12th April 1799. Its first Centenary was fittingly celebrated at Palayamkottai in 1899 amidst scenes of great enthusiasm. To commemorate the occasion was built the CMS Centenary Hall in Tirunelveli – easily one of the biggest halls in South India with a capacity to accommodate 3000 people. In addition to its being used for children’s services and special missions, it is being used extensively as a public hall for many deserving cultural purposes.

    Two years later was celebrated at Sawyerpuram in February 1901 the Bi-centenary of the SPG in which the leaders of CMC congregations also took a full share. Bishop Williams set the ball rolling for the “Diocesanisation”, when he convened on 28th January 1908 a meeting of all clergymen in his Bishopric and lay representatives of the CMS and the SPG congregations. Many such dialogues followed when differences were ironed out one by one. A common magazine came to be issued and a Common Prayer Book came to be used. A Constitution for the new Diocese was hammered out.

    The Tinnevely Diocesan Trust Association was constituted to administer the properties of CMS and SPG. The “Diocesanisation” was almost an accomplished fact before its most redoubtable champion, Bishop Waller, was translated to Madras in 1922. It now remained only to set the formal seal of approval to the Diocesan Constitution. That was left to Bishop Tubbs.

    A historic session of the Diocesan Council was held on 11th March 1924 to formally usher into birth the Diocese of Tirunelveli. Both the CMS and the SPG had sent their blessings to the new Diocese, ultimately the product of their joint enterprise and effort. A Central Diocesan Office was established, and for administrative convenience 3 Church Councils (North, Central and South) were set up in 1925.