New Bui Chu Cathedral to retain former glory

By Viet Tuan   February 24, 2020 | 02:26 am PT
Bui Chu Cathedral in Nam Dinh Province will be rebuilt on the same plot of land according to its original, 135-year-old blueprint.

Carpenters are carving wood outside the old cathedral in Xuan Truong District, northern Nam Dinh Province. With its interior gutted, parishioners have held services in a nearby hut.

Construction plans for a new church is currently being prepared, according to a representative of Bui Chu Bishop’s Palace.

"Dismantling was supposed to complete on February 17, but has been delayed," said Fr. Joseph Nguyen Duc Giang.

The new church will be built exactly like the old one and all the furniture and ornaments in the old church will be installed in the new one, Giang said.

The old cathedral (L) and picture of the new one. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

The old cathedral (L) seen against a picture depicting its new design. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

Vu The Du, a parishioner, said the new church would have a similar design to the old. The statue of Jesus at the top of its facade will be placed in exactly the same position, he added.

Earlier this month, the dismantling work has resumed as local authorities rejected a petition calling for the old church to be left as is.

Built in 1885 by Spanish Bishop Wenceslao Oñate, the Baroque cathedral made headlines last year when the local diocese announced plans to rebuild the 135-year-old structure. 

Architects, among many others, have since protested the move, given its unique historical, artistic and cultural status.

Every time it rains, one part of the yard outside of the cathedral is flooded. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

Though adding flavor to its romance, flooding is a major concern. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

A ministerial delegation visited the church in May last year, concluding it was indeed badly degraded, with its doors and dome cracked, and one of its two towers no longer standing straight.

Bui Chu parishioners confirmed the old cathedral carried great significance, though its state was proving dangerous.

Plaster from the ceiling frequently hits the floor, sometimes injuring churchgoers, once so badly the victim has to be hospitalized, it was revealed.

The electricity system is also unsafe and threatens to cause short circuits and fires.

The cathedral had undergone renovations in 1974 and 2000.

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