Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, the history of a beautiful church
- on Dec 12, 2019       By: BN
Part of the fabulous heritage of the city’s colonial era, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is undergoing its 3rd restoration. Since its presence of nearly a century and a half, she continues to remind us of a reference to the "Little Paris of the Far East". Let’s relive the history of one of the most famous churches of Ho Chi Minh City and the country.
The wooden church, one of two buildings that was formerly the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
With the greater presence of the French in Saigon, Catholics needed a place to practice their beliefs. In this context, Bishop Lefebvre had announced, on March 28, 1863, the construction of a wooden church which was completed two years later. It was initially named "Saigon Church at Kinh Lon" or Charner Canal, the current location of the Sun Wah building in Nguyen Hue Street. It should be noted that the church was established on the basis of a pagoda in the No.5 Street or the current Ngo Duc Ke Street. It was a tiny Vietnamese pagoda abandoned because of the wars.
Notre Dame Cathedral located along the Charner Canal until 1880
Faced with its degradation, Guy Victor August Duperré, the governor of the South had launched a competition of architecture to give a new face to the Church of Saigon. The new building awarded its plans to Jules Bourard, the winner, who was inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.
Current Notre Dame Cathedral location
It was on October 7, 1877 that Monsignor Isidore Colombert laid the foundations for the construction of the cathedral.
The Notre Dame Cathedral in 1880 before its inauguration
A solemn inauguration was celebrated at Easter in 1880. Before being renamed Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, the building was called "State Church" for its 2,500,000 francs financed by France.
The construction of bell towers in 1895 on the press
In 1895, two bell towers were added, each 57.6 m high, housing six bells. At the top stands a cross measuring 3.50 m high, 2m wide and weighing 600 kg.
The Notre-Dame de Saigon Cathedral in 1900, before welcoming the statue of Mgr. Pigneau de Béhaine
In 1903, the French had the statue of Monsignor Pigneau de Béhaine erected, accompanied by Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh, elder of Emperor Gia Long. It was destroyed in 1945 under the rule of Tran Trong Kim's government.
Statue of Monsignor Pigneau de Béhaine and Nguyen Phuc Canh
In 1958, Monsignor Giuse Pham Van Thien had the statue of the Virgin Mary carved out of granite in Rome. Cardinal Aganiavian came to Saigon to inaugurate it on February 17, 1959.
The presence of the statue of the Virgin Mary since 1959
In 1960, the cathedral was granted the status of Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception by the Pope, in parallel with two others in Hanoi and Hue.
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon in 1965
Work started in July 2017
Illustrations of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Saigon over time
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon during the 20s
and in 2010
Since national reunification in 1975, one can still feel, behind its orange-pink facade, the soul of a cultural and nostalgic Saigon, despite so many transformations witnessed in its surroundings. Visitors and locals alike look forward to the reopening of a strong symbol of the country, scheduled for late 2019.