The discovery of an imposing Christian cross in the mountains of northern Pakistan confirms the tradition of an early evangelization of the region, where Christianity, which today represents less than 2% of the population, is trying to survive in the face of Islam.
The find delights Fr. Gulshan Barkat, a professor of Church history in Pakistan: “The importance of this discovery is undeniable. We still need new excavations, for which I suggest that the authorities invite archaeologists and historians from the pontifical universities,” said the religious Oblate of Mary Immaculate (OMI) at the Fides agency, on June 22, 2020.
Indeed, a team of researchers from the University of Baltistan announced that they had found traces of an ancient Christian presence in Skardu. The vice-chancellor of the university, Muhammad Naeem Khan, said in a statement that “the enormous marble cross weighs about 4 tons and is six meters high. It was found 2 kilometers from the base camps, in the mountains around the village of Kavardo, Skardu, in the Baltistan division, with a view of the Indus river. According to the initial hypothesis, this cross could be between 1,000 and 1,200 years old. This is the first discovery in Baltistan of a piece of this kind which marks the association of this land with Christianity,” added the researcher.
It now remains to discover the kind of stone of which the cross was made, and to date it, probably with the “carbon 14” method. Naeem Khan further explained that “the village of Kavardo has known to be in existence for 1,500 years, but it is possible that the marble used to make this cross may be older.”
A discovery that could support the hypothesis of a very old Christian presence. According to tradition, it was while traveling to India that the apostle St. Thomas evangelized the present region of Pakistan. There he preached at the court of King Gondophares, who chose to embrace the true faith.