Saint Joseph’s Church: A Roman Catholic Church in Singapore


Saint Joseph’s Church is a Roman Catholic Church in Singapore. It is situated along the Victoria Street in the Rochor planning area and is nested within the central area of the central business district.  The construction of the church lasted from 1906 to 1912 with its foundation that was laid for two years. The building was constructed with influence in the gothic style by the Portuguese Mission.

Saint Joseph’s church is widely known for their annual Good Friday procession during the Christ’s Passion. It has a strong Eurasian contribution in terms of its own norms and conduct.


The history of Saint Joseph’s Church together with its forerunner, the church of Sao Jose was constructed at the same location. Father Francisco de Silva Pinto e Maia of Porto was at that time, head of the Portuguese Mission, arrived from Goa in the year 1826 and founded the mission in Singapore. When he passed away, he left all his wealth including some land for the construction of a small church. The wealth was then supplemented by a gift from the King of Portugal and the church was named Sao Jose. It was constructed by Reverend Vicente de Sante Catharina for two years and was completed in 1853.

The church of Sao Jose was demolished in 1906 and the present Saint Joseph’s church that was completed in 1912 was constructed on the same site by Swan and MacLAren contractors.

The Saint Anthony’s Boys and Girls’ School was built on the same compound with Saint Joseph’s Church. It was inaugurated by Father Jose Pedro Santa Ana da Cunha in the year 1879 as Saint Anna’s School in a small log house along the Middle Road The school was relocated inside the church’s compound in 1886 and changed its name. The separations of the Girls’ and Boys’ school were formed in 1893. And in 1999, The Cathedral was handed over to the Archdiocese of Singapore by the Portuguese Mission.


The church of Saint Joseph had a low square and bell turret. It was an attractive structure influenced by the classical style with a portico which is supported by four columns. Saint JosephChurch is an architectural phenomenon constructed in the form of a Latin cross and showcased appealingly crafted stained glass windows. Another stunning feature about this Gothic style building was its central octagonal tower capped by a dome that is bordered by two small towers.

Additional structures were added to the church in 1938, 1954 and 1956. The First church of Saint Joseph was built on a place that was chosen as early as 1822. It was Reverend Father Vincentre de Santo Catharina who utilized the funds left for building the church by Reverend Francisco de Silva Pinto I Maria, the head of the Portuguese Mission. The foundation was laid on December 14, 1851 and the construction was completed in 1853. A little more than 50 years it was demolished and replaced with a new one.

It is quite interesting to emphasize that the Portuguese and French Missions contended for the honor of enhancing the faith in Singapore; this led to papal intervention in 1886. The pope recognized the two bow of influences by the two missions.

The construction of the Church of Saint Joseph and other churches by the Missionaries from Portuguese is an example of an early widening of the Roman Catholic Church in Singapore.

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