Mahatma Gandhi Roof Boss, St Mary's Church

St Marys_Gandhi Boss.jpg


Mahatma Gandhi Roof Boss, St Mary's Church


Gandhi in a church


Probably installed in the roof of the University Church after his visit to Oxford in 1931, this carving of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) commemorates an important moment in imperial history and some significant changes in the history of Oxford. Gandhi was in England to negotiate with the government about Indian independence. His visit to Oxford reflected the University’s connections with India and his presence here reveals the remarkable broadening of religious sympathies in the University. Only 50 years before, non-Anglicans were still excluded from authority in Oxford. Here, a Hindu is shown blessing the worshippers below. The University Church was the focus for William Laud's attempts to reform the University in the seventeenth century. He and many other orthodox Anglicans were horrified to find secular events in this sacred place. It is an index of just how much the University had changed that this image of another faith was placed there. Gandhi's views are themselves the subject of much debate today.

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Museum of Oxford


Photo credit: Image by kind permission of the Vicar and Churchwardens of the University Church, Oxford

Alt text

Wooden roof boss showing a man wearing round glasses and sitting cross-legged with both hands raised, palms facing forward.

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