Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica: Guide to Ho Chi Minh City
Situated at the center of Ho Chi Minh City, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon or Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, is a symbol and one of the oldest and most famous Tourist Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
Location: No. 1 Cong Truong Cong xa Paris St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 11 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM Daily.
Weekday Mass: 5.30 AM and 5.30 PM.
Every Sunday: 5.30 AM; 6.45 AM; 8 AM; 9.30 AM; 4.00 PM; 5.30 PM; 6.30 PM.
Entrance Fee: free - except for parking tickets outside the cathedral.
The history of the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral:
The history of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral starts from the conquest of French in the late 19th century. The French government wanted to have a big church to serve a community and religious services for Local and French Colonialists. The first church built on Ngo Duc Ke Street was too small, so French Admiral Bonard wanted to build a bigger church. The building was started on Mar 28th, 1863. Two years later, the building was finished and named “ Saigon Church”.
In 1895, the French added two bell towers to the cathedral, each of them was 57.6 high. There are also six smaller bronze bells around the towers. The crosses were built on the top of each tower. Each of them is about 3.5 m high, 2 m wide and weight 600 kg. At this time, the height of the construction is 60.5 meters from foot to top.
The French Colonialists also constituted a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine (also called Bishop of Adran) leading Prince Canh (the eldest son of King Gia Long). This statue was placed in front of the church. In 1945, the statue was destroyed but the base of the statue are still remained.
In 1959, Catholic Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien ordered a statue of Our Lady of Peace in Rome. On 6 February 1959, he held a ceremony to place the statue on an empty base. The next morning, Cardinal Agagianian from Rome solemnly attended the ceremony for the statue, then the cathedral was renamed Notre-Dame Cathedral.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII built Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and the cathedral was named Saigon Chief Cathedral. In 1962, he anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral and conferred the status of a basilica. From this time, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
Renovation of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral:
Up to date, this church has undergone three big renovations. The first restoration of building was the construction of the bell towers’ pointed roofs in 1895. The second time is in 1903 when the front of the church was embellished, the flower garden and Ba Da Loc monument were built. The third time was to place the Our Lady of Peace statue in 1959.
Sai Gon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is now undergoing a huge renovation project starting in August 2017, and expecting to complete in June 2020. At this time, the cathedral is being closed but remains for Vietnamese Catholics Ceremony every Sunday. Particularly, there is a mass organized at 9:30 am on every Sunday, in both Vietnamese and English. Tourists are still welcomed to visit the Basilica’s surrounding grounds or go walking in the square in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon.
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