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Church of St Teresa

Church of St Teresa view

What to Know About the Church of St Teresa Singapore?

The Church of St. Teresa, found at 510 Kampong Bahru Road, was constructed on the eastern slope of Bukit Purmei, or “beautiful hill” in Malay. Romano-Byzantine style, recognized by the use of imposing domes, cupolas, and arches on its exterior, is unique to this 1929-built Catholic church. When it gets first erected, the church primarily served Catholics who spoke Hokkien because they did not have a church of their own. It serves Catholics who reside in the communities of Kampong Bahru, Telok Blangah, Cantonment, and Spottiswoode Park. It serves as the hub for the Apostleship of the Sea, assisting mariners who get docked at the adjacent port. In 2009, the Church of St Teresa received the national monument designation.

Architecture

The Church of St Teresa is the only structure in Singapore with a Romano-Byzantine design. Father Jean Marie Ouillon designed the model based on sketches, and most of it gets influenced by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, Paris, France. The final architectural drawings get created by Emile Brizay under Brossard Mopin Malaya Co Pte Ltd. Emile Brizay also designed the Former Ford Factory.

A cross enclosed in a circle gets used as decoration on the windows positioned within arches on the church’s side walls. Before the installation of air conditioners, these windows and the clerestory windows served as the church’s ventilation system. Swan & Maclaren Architects created the baldachin that hangs over the high altar. Each of the top pediments of the building, supported by High columns, has a wreath-like design in the center.

Bells

Devout parishioner Joseph Chan Teck Hee donated five bronze bells in November 1927 and named them after his children. The five varied tones and varying bell sizes combine to create a chord of music when it gets struck. The Cornille-Harvard Bell Foundry in Villedieu-Les-Poeles, Normandy, France, cast them during Pope Pius XI’s reign.

Stained glass

In 1931, the sanctuary’s rear stained glass windows, produced in France, were put in. The three windows, each with six panels, detail St. Therese of Lisieux, France, as she lived her life.

Old Church

The church was finished and formally inaugurated on April 7, 1929, to tremendous hoopla and a gathering of roughly 6,000 people. It gets chosen to name the church after St. Teresa of the Child Jesus and make her the patron saint since churchgoers thought she had interceded on their behalf to get the site.

However, due to the Church low attendance levels, it quickly faced difficulties continuing to operate. People continued to attend services at the Church of Saint Peter and Paul because it was easier to access. After all, the area around the church lacked built infrastructure. As a result, there were very few regular services at the Church of St. Teresa; at one point, there were only four in a calendar year. Although it finally failed to serve the Hokkien Catholic community, its parish gradually increased with the support of employees from the dockyards and personnel and patients from the Singapore General Hospital.

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