300-year-old Saigon church defies wars

By Quynh Tran   August 1, 2019 | 04:04 pm GMT+7

The Cho Quan Church, destroyed several times during wars, is one of Saigon's most ancient churches.

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It was first built in 1720 with one small building and a prayer area inside. The church suffered from many war destructions and went through several reconstructions. In 1882 Father Nicolas Hamm decided to rebuild it in its current form. 

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It took 14 years for the preliminary construction details to be done. The Gothic church sits on an area of 16,000 square meters at 120 Tran Binh Trong Street, District 5, in the Cho Lon area, also known as Chinatown.

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Its Gothic style is evident from its facade. 

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The bell tower has three floors. There are five bells in the second floor that can be rung from the first floor. The third floor is empty. The bells were made in France and sent to Vietnam by sea. 

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Inside are a typical layout of pews for the faithful on either side of an aisle and an ornate altar with an idol of Jesus on the wall.

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The windows on either side are made of regular glass and not stained glass like in other churches. There used to be stained glass windows but they were dismantled in the past and the church has not found a craftsman to recreate the original design.

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The chapel can accommodate 1,500 people.

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Father Hamm’s crypt near the altar. He died in 1886 and was buried under the new church.

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The church has many idols of local saints and historical figures.

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At the time of printing, the church was going through minor refurbishment of the main entrance. But it remains open to the public. The work is expected to finish in August.

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A woman with prayer beads after a congregation is over.

 
 
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