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165-year-old church on Seychelles’ Praslin Island to be again demolished and rebuilt

Victoria, Seychelles | May 28, 2017, Sunday @ 11:20 in National » GENERAL | By: Sharon Meriton Jean and Sharon Ernesta Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3185
165-year-old church on Seychelles’ Praslin Island to be again demolished and rebuilt

Parishioners filled up St Mark's church for one last time before it is demolished. (Seychelles News Agency) 

Photo license  

(Seychelles News Agency) - A church built in 1852 symbolising the arrival of the Anglican Church on Praslin, Seychelles second-most populated island, is going to be demolished and rebuilt.

Located at the centre of the streets of Baie Ste Anne, one of the two districts on Praslin, the St. Mark’s church originally made with wood and covered with leaves from the coco de mer tree was renovated and rebuilt twice. 

According to Archbishop French Chang-Him, in 1906 the church was renovated and built with brightly red corrugated iron sheets and in September 1972 again rebuilt with the design done by Joan Markham, wife of the then resident doctor. The priest in charge was Reverend Andre Hassing.

For the church to be rebuilt, a special mass was celebrated where all the important components of the church such as the altar were deconsecrated.(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“It was here that thousands of people were first baptised and received their sacraments,” said the parish priest, Father Simon Fred.

The church is now hidden from view by a large reclaimed area and has become an eyesore to passers-by. A request was made by the parishioners for the church to be rebuilt once more.

For the church to be rebuilt, the Bishop of the Seychelles Anglican Diocese, Reverend James Wong, celebrated a special mass where all the important components of the church such as the altar were deconsecrated.

“This is a special ceremony where religious blessings are removed including on the building so that it can be demolished.”

Pending authorisation, the building which is covered by asbestos -- a hazardous building material banned in Seychelles, will be brought down.

Plans for the new St. Mark’s church have already been presented to parishioners and include a much larger church with a balcony and sitting for over 300 people.

In 1906 the church was renovated and built with brightly red corrugated iron sheets (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

For Christmas 1977, the church was featured on a local R5 stamp. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

The project, said Father Fred, will cost over $295,000 (4 million Seychelles rupees) and is expected to be completed within a year.

The St. Mark’s church was originally built at the inspiration of Phillippe Annette who was a renowned catechist and evangelist known as the apostle of Praslin. Dedicated to the first disciple of Jesus, Mark, the church was consecrated by the first bishop of the archipelago James Chapman who was then based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Archbishop Chang-Him told SNA that after his ordination to the priesthood in June 1963, was sent to Praslin as priest-in-charge of the whole island, with responsibility for the Anglicans on the island and the St. Mark’s church. He was also responsible for Anglicans on La Digue, the third most populated island. 

For Christmas 1977, the church was featured on a local R5 stamp.

The island of Praslin has another Anglican church dedicated to St. Mathew – a national monument, located at Grand Anse district.  

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Tags: Archbishop French Chang-Him, Anglican Church

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