Inside one of the oldest church complexes in Saigon

By Quynh Tran   February 13, 2019 | 04:21 pm GMT+7

The Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers and Thu Thiem Church were built more than 150 years ago along the Saigon River in District 2.

Inside one of the oldest church complexes in Saigon 

The Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers and Thu Thiem Church are located on an area of about 4 hectares. In 1840 the nuns of the congregation, while running away from invaders, came across and stopped at the Thu Thiem area. They set up a monastery here in a makeshift house.

The Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers and Thu Thiem Church are now located in functional area 2A in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.

The city had planned to demolish the buildings to make way for an urban area. But in early February its People's Committee said the plans have been amended and some main works of the congregation and church would remain.

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Thu Thiem Church, founded in 1859 and originally a wooden structure, has undergone several renovations. Next to the church is a bell tower.

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In the tower, five bronze bells made between 1889 and 1892 at a workshop run by the French still stand. The bells are still rung every day using its original pedal system.

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The Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers in Thu Thiem next to the church consists of a chapel, dorm, clinic, school, garden, and others added through the 20th century.

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At the center, in a large yard, is a chapel. In 1956, the monastery started to build a new chapel.

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The two buildings adjacent to the chapel are the dorm (left) built in 1927 and a praying house built in 1933.

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A miniature mountain and a five-meter-high cross are in front of the chapel.

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The buildings in the Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers are in French architectural style with yellow paint, wide long corridors and wooden windows but have Asian features.

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Plants give it the familiar look of churches and other religious places in Vietnam. After more than 100 years the buildings in the complex remain in good repair.

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There is an ancient tamarind tree which is more than 160 years old, older than the complex itself. Originally, the congregation consisted only of a tiny makeshift house which was then developed by this ancient tree.

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There are about 300 sisters in the congregation. They often participate in a ceremony in the chapel at 5 a.m. and spend the rest of the day taking caring of the garden, rearing cattle and reading the scriptures.

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Over 150 years of existence, the church and the Congregation complex are a testament to the formation and development of the Thu Thiem peninsula.

 
 
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