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St. Peter's Church
New Delhi

Source: St. Peter's Souvenir, 1995-96


1 & 2 Bhai Veer Singh Marg
New Delhi 110 001
Phone: + 91 11 336 4740

Brief History

St. Peter's Cathedral is the spiritual center of Syrian Orthodox Christians in India's capital city, New Delhi. The cathedral is situated in an exclusive and well-laid out site in the heart of the city hand picked by the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. On 28th May, 1990, the Patriarch, H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I, designated the church as the "Eastern Cathedral of the Patriarch of Antioch."

Until 1976, the spiritual center of the Syrian Orthodox in New Delhi was the St. Mary's Church at Hauz Khas. The foundation stone of this church was laid by late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III in 1964. Due to the unfortunate schism in the Malankara church in the early 1970s, the Syrian Orthodox Christians owing allegiance to the Patriarchate of Antioch were forced to find another place of worship. On 4th July, 1976, Rev. Sleeba, who was deputed to Delhi by late Catholicose H.B. Mor Baselios Paulose II conducted the first service at the St. George school in Defence Colony, following which a decision to form a new parish was made. The St. Gregorius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox parish was formed on 24th October 1976 and regular worship commenced at the Abner Memorial School premises under the leadership of V. Rev. Thomas Moothedom Corepiscopa (later Metropolitan Mor Theophilos Thomas). On 28th November 1976, worship services were relocated to Mater Dei school hall. On 30th April, 1977, the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Society was registered. On 28th November 1977, late Catholicos Baselios Paulos II submitted an application for a plot of land to Minister Sikander Bakht. The official communication from the Home Ministry about the allotment of a plot measuring 530 sq. yards was received on 20th December 1979, and later on 28th August 1980, the area allotted was increased to 940 sq. yards. However, thereafter, all construction work in the Ridge Green Belt Area was banned by the government leading to a renewed quest lead by the late Catholicos to find an alternate site. On 24th March, 1983, following several representations from the late Catholicos and the diocesan bishop, the Prime Minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi issued instructions to carve out a new site in a central location in New Delhi. Regular worship commenced on 27th March, 1983 at the new site with an area of 1095 sq. meters on Bhai Veer Singh Marg. The parish was renamed to St. Peter's as directed by the diocesan bishop H.G. Mor Theophilos Thomas. On 2nd November 1987, architectural plan for the cathedral was submitted. On 4th January 1988, the Delhi Urban Art Commission approved the plan. On the same day, the congregation received a letter from the Patriarchate promising a foundation stone for the cathedral blessed by the Patriarch which was sent three weeks later through India's Ambassador to Syria, N.P. Alexander. After the labrynthine approval processes at the bureaucratic city agencies in New Delhi, the excavation work was permitted to commence on 6th June 1989. The inaugural service in the unfinished cathedral under construction was held on Christmas Day, 1989. On 22nd February 1996, the altars of the cathedral were consecrated by the late Catholicos Baselios Paulos II on the anniversary of the establishment of the Holy See of Antioch by St. Peter in 37 A.D.

The plot on which the church is built measures 1000 sq.m. and is flanked by the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the proposed public park a car park on the other side. The Cathedral thus stands out separate from other buildings and has an independent architectural identity of its own. The building is in a cruciform shape with a dome above the sanctuary. The ground floor is the main congregational assembly hall. The basement hosts the community Hall built in memory of late Catholicos Baselios Paulos II. The upper floors are designed for a parsonage, bishop's suite, conference hall and offices. The total builtup area is about 10,000 sq.ft.

Source: Souvenirs published by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Society, New Delhi (1990, 1995-96)

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Last Update: April 21, 2001