Photo Credit: Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf
[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were the guests of honour at a service in Oman’s Bait al Noor church in Ruwi, Muscat, held to mark the 125th anniversary of the final missionary journey of Bishop Thomas Valpy French. The bishop arrived in Muscat in February 1891 to establish an Anglican church; but he fell ill and, despite the care of Portuguese Catholic missionaries, he died after a prolonged fever in May 1891, aged 66.
Valpy French, who was born in Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire in January 1825, joined the Church Mission Society in April 1850 and was sent to Agra, India; where he founded a college. While in India, he learnt seven languages, including Persian, Pashto and Arabic. After eleven years in India he was transferred to Derajat in central Pakistan, where he started a new mission, before returning to England in 1862. Fifteen years later he was appointed as the first Anglican Bishop of the new diocese of Lahore. At that time, the diocese covered the Punjab and north-western India. He helped to translate the Bible into Hindustani and Pashto and made Episcopal visits to Kashmir and Iran.
He returned to England, again, in 1887 before being sent to Oman in 1891. Unfortunately ill-health struck and he died before being able to continue his work.
The Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, Bishop Michael Lewis, celebrated a commemorative eucharist at the Bait al Noor church at the weekend. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, attended the service as part of a week-long visit to the Middle East, which includes some 50 engagements in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
Bishop Thomas Valpy French