Friday, March 6, 2009

Phat Diem Cathedral

From Phat Diem Cathedral

My recent trip to Nam Dinh for a Helmets for Kids ceremony scored big time because we also got to visit Phat Diem Cathedral. Hands down, it was one of the most startling sights I have experienced to date in Vietnam. It is a Catholic church built in teh style of a buddhist temple or pagoda, the work of Father Tran Luc from 1875-1899. Chinese characters are interspersed with stone relief work depicting the lives of the Jesus and Mary. A series of smaller chapels surround the Cathedral, and the complex in total is several acres.

The ground under the Cathedral was constructed - originally it was on a reed-filled swamp. It has stood for over 100 years now, including surviving  a 1972 bombing that tilted the Cathedral 15-20 degrees (restoration was necessary).  

Catholics represent a significant minority in Vietnam. In this district, they are 53% of the population. Below is a slideshow of my pictures, posted on my picasa site.

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