SKARDU, Pakistan – A 1,200-year-old stone cross of the Eastern Church weighing three tons was discovered in northern Pakistan.
France-based Catholic website Aleteia reported that the stone cross was discovered in the Himalayan mountains in the northern Pakistani city of Skardu.
The cross was found by a three-member expedition from the University of Baltistan, Skardu in the mountain range of Kavardo in Baltistan.
“The huge cross of marble rock weighing 3-4 tons and measuring approximately 7×6 feet has been found some two kilometers from the base camp, high in the mountains of Kavardo, Baltistan, overlooking the Indus River,” read a press release issued by the team on 14 June.
Researcher Wajid Bhatti identified the cross as a “Thomanian cross,” and said it was one of the largest crosses discovered on the subcontinent.
Dubbed the “Kavardo cross,” the finding could represent evidence that Christian communities once lived in the region.
“It is indeed great news for all of us that an ancient cross was found in Skardu. It shows that Christianity existed in this area and there must be a church and houses of Christians. There are currently no Christian families in that area, but they were once present,” said Mansha Noor, executive director of Caritas Pakistan.
“I request the authorities invite international historians to find out more about the accurate history of the cross,” said Noor.
This discovery shows the spread of the Church of the East in Asia, likely along the Silk Road, to Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and China.
In the 17th century, Jesuit missionaries discovered a monument that immortalized the arrival of the first Levantine missionaries to the Chinese city of Sian Fu during the time of the Patriarch Ishoʿyahb II of Gdala.