Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok
|Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok|
Front of the church
|Location||23 Oriental Avenue, New Road, Bang Rak, Bangkok, Thailand|
|District||Archdiocese of Bangkok|
|Leadership||Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit|
|Website||Official website of Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok|
The Assumption Cathedral (Thai: อาสนวิหารอัสสัมชัญ) is the principal Roman Catholic church of Thailand, located within the grounds of Assumption College (Thailand) at 23 Oriental Avenue, New Road, in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok. It is the main church of the Archdiocese of Bangkok. It was visited by Pope John Paul II during his trip to Thailand in 1984.
The Renaissance style building is the Cathedral of the Archbishop and of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.
The Latin term "Assumpta est Maria in Caelum" ("the assumption of Mary into heaven") is inscribed in the arch of the ceiling in the middle of the Cathedral.
The history of the Cathedral date back to the year 1820 when Bishop Florens was the head of the “Siam Mission”. A piece of land was purchased to build a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, paid for by donations. A traditional Thai-style church was completed for the Catholic community in that area in the year 1821, and given the name “Assumption Church”. After the completion of the church, the office of the bishop was built nearby and in the following year, the church was named “The Assumption Cathedral”, the Cathedral of the Bishop of the Bangkok Diocese. Since then, the Assumption Cathedral has continuously been the permanent residence of all the bishops of the Bangkok Diocese.
By 1909, owing to the growth of the Catholic community, the old Thai style church building was too small. Fr. Colombet, the Rector of the Cathedral, decided to construct a new church. A French architect designed the master plan. Local construction materials were used. The interior decorations such as marble were ordered from Italy and all the stained glasses were ordered from France. The construction work took 9 years to complete. The new Cathedral was consecrated on 15 August 1919, the Feast of the Assumption, by Bishop Rene Perros.
The structure of the Assumption Cathedral itself was laid down from East to West in a mixed architectural style. The symmetrical architectural style of the outside is Romanesque. The walls has towers 32 meters high, and the roof is 25.6 meters high. There are semicircular-arches at the entrances and the windows. At the corner of the building there is evidence of the reinforcement of the building by the laying of limestone bricks alternatively with its façade slightly sloping which derived from the Classic art. Romanized pillars were used to hold the semicircular-arches, decorated with all kinds of shrubs on their tops. These pillars are decorative, not structural. Parts of the interior of the Cathedral are also in Romanesque style, i.e. the main semicircular-arches or the semicircular-verandas, the semicircular-windows and the semicircular-doorway; all were of the Romanesque style. The semicircular-doorway was made of different layers of leaves and the central gate was greatly emphasized. The layout of the building was in a pattern of a cross even though the two hands of the cross are not so wide and their lengths are shorter than the length of the building itself. Both sides were used as a sanctuary. The exterior of the building looks very simple but the interior of the building is very luxurious and dignified. A mixture of decoration of the neoclassic and French Colonial especially the fresco paintings and bas-relief patterns which are all religious-related can be found. All the statutes along the side altars were of different saints and of the life story of Jesus prior to his dying on the cross while all the paintings revealed the story of the Catholic faith in Mary with the scene from the first part of the prayer Hail Mary. Also, the painting on the ceiling revealed the inscription of the initials of the name of Jesus in Latin and the ceilings were decorated with stars which mean guidance or God’s favour.
The stained glass windows around the church were all destroyed by the Second World War which left the Cathedral badly damaged and was then renovated by erecting an iron rod to secure the middle part to strengthen the building. The new stained glass windows were all replaced recently. All these stained glass window showed the life of Jesus and Catholic beliefs.
The significant part of the Cathedral is in the crypt underneath the Sanctuary which kept the remains of the bishops and the missionaries including that of Fr Nicholas Boonkerd Kitbamrung who was proclaimed a martyr by Pope John Paul II on 5 March 2000 in Vatican. His relics were transferred to the shrine built in the compound of St. Peter’s church in Sampran, Nakornprathom Province. There still remains a special altar devoted to him on the left side of the Cathedral.
Besides being a place of worship and for performing sacred ceremonies, the role of the Assumption Cathedral is the church of the head of the local diocese which as of 2014[update] was led by Cardinal Michael Meechai Kitboonchu. The Cathedral is used to celebrate functions such as ordination of deacons, priests and bishops, and is said to be the centre of Catholics in Thailand.
Visitors include, on 4 May 1946, King Anandhamahidol with his younger brother, later King Bhumiphol Adulyadej. Pope John Paul II visited on 10 May 1984. On 22 July 1995, Princesses Somsawalee and Patcharakitiyabha visited the Cathedral during a religious ceremony for the soul of the late King’s mother. In 2002 the Crown Prince and his consort visited to the Catholic community at the Assumption Cathedral.
Three schools are situated in the compound of the Cathedral: The Assumption College, the Assumption Convent and the Assumption Suksa.
A ceremony held in the cathedral was that of the proclamation of Blessed Father Nicholas Boonkerd as Priest and Martyr. There used to be a seminary and a printing house. Many offices of the Catholic organizations used to be nearby the Cathedral.
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