Cathedral of Good Shepherd: An oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore

739

cathedral-of-good-shepherd-an-oldest-roman-catholic-church-in-Singapore

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore. It is situated in the Museum Planning Area within the Civic District. It is outlined by the Parallel Queen and Victoria Streets and the Bras Basah Road, the cathedral is nested within well-shaded grounds. Majority of its architecture resembles two famous London Churches namely Saint Paul’s Covent Garden and Saint Martin in the fields Church.

The Cathedral of Good Shepherd is said to be the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore and the seat of its Archbishop. It is proclaimed to be the final resting place of Bishop Edouard Gasnier, the first bishop of the renewed diocese of Malacca and caters the remnants of Saint Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert who gave the name of the cathedral.

Chapel History

In its early age, the Roman Catholic community in Singapore heard mass at the house of Dennis Lesley McSwiney.

In the year 1862, the construction has started on the pioneering permanent Roman Catholic house of worship in Singapore. The construction of the chapel was completed in 1833 by the help of financing through public subscription. At first it was a small wood and attap structure and it costs like 700 Spanish dollars to construct. The chapel has both tower and spire, was situated in Saint Joseph’s InstitutionBuilding which is presently catered by the SingaporeArt Museum.

Church of The Good Shepherd

The demand of the chapel to renovate and make it a little bigger began in the 1830s. Bishop Jean Paul Hilaire Michael Courvezy, Vicar Apostolic of Siam, considered renovating the chapel but was convince by Father Jean Marie Beurel, the parish priest to just keep the site as it is for school utilization and to just construct another church in a different location. However, the Governor, George Bonham, offered a place on the yard of Government Hill, presently known as FortCanning, but unfortunately, this was turned down by the Bishop. The second place that was offered was a location that was bounded by Victoria Street, Queen Street and the Bras Basah Road. It was conveniently located adjacent to the school which is presently known as Saint Joseph’s Institution. This site is then accepted.

The church was completed on June 6, 1847 and was inaugurated by Father Jean Marie Beurel. The total cost of the church was amounted to be 18,355.22 Spanish dollars.

Cathedral of The Good Shepherd

The church was elevated to the status of cathedral in the year 1888 when the diocese of Malacca was revived. Bishop Edouard Gasnier was the first bishop of the revived diocese of Malacca died in the year 1896 and was buried in the Cathedral. Although the church was promoted to cathedral, the consecration ceremony was held on February 14, 1897. This is also the time when the cathedral had paid all the debts incurred from the construction of the extension in 1889. A lot of renovations were gradually made to the cathedral. Some of the modifications are the dwarf wall, gate pillar, and the illustrative cast iron gates as well as the railings around the grounds were finished in 1908. As the time passes by, developments were manifested in the cathedral. The Gallery organ was utilized in 1912, while electric lighting came in 1913 followed by the electric fans in 1914.

The cathedral was utilized as an emergency hospital during the height of the Second World War.

How did they arrive with the name (Good Shepherd)?

Saint Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert was proclaimed to be the first priest to visit Singapore. He actually died as a martyr in Korea. He was the one who gave the name Cathedral of Good Shepherd. He had written a statement, “in desperate circumstances, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”. He was beheaded together with three other martyrs, and news of this had reached Singapore at the time when they actually looking for a name. The choice was firmly suggested by Bishop Jean Baptiste Boucho.

Highlights

  • The First Roman Catholic house of worship in Singapore was blessed and opened in 1833
  • The Stone Foundation was laid by John Connolly on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1843
  • The Church of the Good Shepherd was blessed and inaugurated by Father Jean Marie Beurel in 1847
  • The Original Parochial House which is now presently known as the Archbishop house was completed in 1859
  • The church was promoted to cathedral when the dicocese of Malacca was revived in 1888.
  • The extension of the Nave at the west part of the cathedral was completed on 1889
  • The consecration of the cathedral was officiated by Bishop Rene’ Michel Marie Fee on 1897
  • The renovation and modification of the dwarf wall, gate pillars, and ornamental cast iron gates and railings was completed in 1908
  • The Second Parochial House which is presently known as the Cathedral Rectory was designed by Father Charles Benedict Nain was completed in 1911
  • The gallery organ was utilized by Bishop Marie Luc Alphonse Emile Barillon in 1912
  • The electric lights and the electric fan was introduced in the years 1913 and 1914
  • The cathedral was used as an emergency hospital in the year 1942 during the invasion of Singapore.
  • In 1983, the sanctuary was renovated and modified
  • From 1997 to 1999 they performed a major restoration of the cathedral