The Museum of Christian Art, which contains artifacts of centuries old church heritage in the region was inaugurated on Sunday by the archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
Calling it a contribution to the cultural heritage of the city of Mumbai, Cardinal Gracias said that though was a recent convert to this museum. He confessed he was not bowled over by the concept of the museum when it was broached to him several years ago, he gradually realized the importance of having such a museum.”The artifacts show that Christianity is not new in this region. There were churches and Christians in the area since seven to eight hundred years,” Cardinal Gracias said.
Housed in the St Pius Catholic Seminary in Goregaon (E), the museum has been put together by a team of professionals led by Fr Warner D’Souza. It includes heritage architects, Ainsley Lewis, David Cordoz and Conrad Gonsalves, historian Prof Fleur D’Souza and art restorer, Jacinta Moorthy. Speaking to TOI, architect Cordoz said they began by collecting things that the churches wished to dispose, which later developed into a fine collection.
Dwelling on the importance of heritage in the cultural life of communities, Fr Larry Pereira pointed out that the first Christian community in the Mumbai region was recorded in Borivli in 1547. Historical records show a group of Marathi speaking Christians in existence at that time.
The first Portuguese settlements in Chaul and Revdanda near Alibaug were already in existence by then. He added that even during the wars between the Marathas and the Portuguese the local Christian communities were not adversely affected and continued to practise their religion.
The museum contains figures of Christ carved in ivory and wood and church altars dating back to 1608 work by priests and bishops, silverware used in churches for centuries. There is an amphitheater which will be used to screen films and have discussions on art and cultural heritage. This will make people aware of their heritage in the region,” he said.
Source: The Times Of India (dated 26th September 2011)