June 22, 2016
Chanthaburi in Eastern Thailand (Thai: จันทบุรี, literally “Moon city”) has for centuries been a melting pot of differing cultures with a significant minority of its citizens being native Vietnamese; they fled there in three waves: firstly in the 19th century during anti-Catholic persecutions in Cochin China; the second wave in the 1920s to 1940s fleeing from French Indochina; and a third wave after the communist victory in Vietnam in 1975. Others have also influenced the cities rich tapestry of food and architect such as the Shan from Burma as well as the French, who ruled the area from 1893 to 1905 and not forgetting the ancient Khmer of Cambodia.
But it is from this thriving community of Vietnamese — many of them Roman Catholic that, in 1909 the present Gothic style Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, (Thailand’s largest church) was after 10 years of construction, inaugurated with the installation of a huge bell in one of its towers. With it’s dominate twins spires the Cathedral has became the symbol of the city
A missionary chapel was first built at the same site located at the Chanthanimit Road on the left bank of the Chanthaburi River in 1711 and was rebuilt and enlarged four times during the nineteenth century.
During World War II the twin spires were taken down to make the church a less obvious navigational aid to allied bombers. It was not until 1944 that the building was granted the status of cathedral.
Edging your bets in Thailand
The worshipers are not mealy from the Vietnamese community and you can often see Thai and Chinese Buddhists offering incense and flower garlands to the Virgin Mary image that fronts the cathedral, this may seem strange to many, but Thai people have a strong belief in spirits, god’s and demons in equal proportion and most see no harm in hedging their bets, by appeasing any and all deities, with the hope that in doing so they bring themselves wealth and happiness.
There are a total of 11 Cathedrals in the Kingdom:
- Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bangkok
- Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Chanthaburi
- Sacred Heart Cathedral in Chiang Mai
- Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral in Nakhon Ratchasima
- St. Anna Cathedral in Nakhon Sawan
- Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral in Amphoe Bang Khonthi
- St. Raphael Cathedral in Surat Thani
- St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral in Tha Rae
- St. Anne’s Co-Cathedral in Nakhon Phanom
- Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Ubon Ratchathani
- Cathedral of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Udon Thani
Directions to The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
GPS : 12.60920645,102.11866207. The Cathedral is located about 1 Kilometers from the Chanthaburi city, cross the Wat Chan Bridge and continue on Chanthanimit Road before turning right. Official website: www.cathedralchan.or.th