The Great Silk Road brought prosperity and growth to all countries throughout its web. It was especially beneficial for Uzbekistan, which had several large trade points as cities. With prosperity and development came new religions. Alongside with trade caravans came missioners, who wanted to promote their faith in remoted areas of Central Asia.
Russian extension to the East caused active propaganda of Catholicism in Central Asian countries. In 1917 seven thousand Cathlocis lived in Tashkent. They were exiles or soldiers of Russian army. In 1885, Ferdinand Senczikowsky was the person who tried initiating construction of the first Catholic church in Tashkent. He was the first official Catholic cleric of Turkistan. However, the real construction started in 1912. Soldier-Catholics who had special skills were taking part in the building process.
The building of Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral took many years, because of circumstances. In 1917, with the start the revolution, it was still unfinished. Father Boleslaw Rutenis didn’t manage to find financial support for continuation of construction and left his post. His position was taken by Joseph Sowinski who had to work undercover. However, in 1937 he was imprisoned, accused of anti-Soviet propaganda, and killed.
Shortage of finances, Bolshevik’s regime, and political regulations in the country stopped the proper building process for the next 50 years. During USSR times Polish church hosted quite a few organizations, but was left abandoned till 1987. The same year the church started its official activity as Catholic organization. In 2000, eighty-eight years after building the foundation of the church, Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus was completed.
Today, it’s one of the most beautiful examples of East architecture in Tashkent. The cathedral is built in Gothic style, from marble and granite, with wooden doors. Sunday masses are held in the big hall. It’s decorated with stories form the Bible; there’s a sculpture of Jesus Christ and an altar. Nowadays, Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus is opened for visits. It functions in 4 languages: Russian, Korean, English, and Polish.