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Top 5 Churches in Vietnam for Christmas and New Year Celebration

Hanoi Cathedral
Hanoi Cathedral is at No.40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem
District, and Hanoi. It was built on the site oI the Iormer Bao
Thien Tower, which was Iamous in the ancient capital oI
Thang Long under the Ly Dynasty (the 11th and 12th
centuries).

Hanoi Cathedral, also known as Saint Joseph's Cathedral, was
inaugurated on Christmas Day 1886, two years aIter its construction. Its design is similar to the
architecture oI Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Many catholic rituals have been held there. A
ritual ceremony dedicated to Jesus Christ is held in this cathedral every year on March 19.

The special thing is that space around Hanoi Cathedral is an ideal meeting place Ior local
residents in Hanoi, especially youngsters, to get away Irom the bustle and noise oI the city.
When it gets darker, groups oI Iriends Ilock to the space to enjoy themselves. To enjoy this kind
oI entertainment, you can Ieast and drink with your Iriends in this open space. The bell striking
Irom the church at meditative moments sways your mind. That is a great and romantic Ieeling.
Young people have Ilocked to the cathedral because the church view and tranquil street corners
will Iuel their romantic liaison. Couples hand in hand show their love. Others regard it as a
playground Ior chatting or a stage Ior music perIormances.

Many Iamous artists and movie stars can be seen in this special place. Pianist Pho An My has the
habit oI sitting in the church yard to enjoy a cup oI tea with ice and play her Iavorite pieces. 'It is
not necessary to go to the theatre to enjoy a music concert; a pageant show will undoubtedly
bring a wind oI change to the audience, said the Iamous artist.

II you are a young person in Hanoi or nearby, you should not miss a chance to discover the
underlying real scene oI the city by once setting your Ioot into the space oI Hanoi Cathedral

!hat Diem cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is located 130km south oI
Hanoi and 28km southeast oI Ninh Binh, Phat Diem
Cathedral was built between 1875 and 1899 and
consists oI a network oI ponds, lakes, churches, and
artiIicial caves.

Phuong Dinh Church, part oI the Phat Diem complex,
is a giant building entirely made oI stone. Numerous stone sculptures are on the inside and
outside walls. A large bell cast in the 1890s weighing nearly 2 tons is Iound in the bell tower.

Phat Diem Cathedral was built in 1891 with Iour rooIs and six sets oI iron wooden pillars. On
both sides oI the church are Iour smaller churches oI diIIerent styles. On the extreme north
corner are three stone caves. The most beautiIul oI these caves is Lo Duc cave. Phat Diem
Cathedral is the center oI Catholicism in North Vietnam and also a tourist site attracting Ioreign
and domestic visitors.

The cathedral oI Phat Diem seems to have changed very little since Graham Greene described its
gigantic pillars Iormed out oI single trees and the scarlet lacquer work oI the altar, more
Buddhist than Christian" in his 1955 classic The Quiet American. Indeed, with its multi-tiered,
curling rooIs and its 48 lime-wood columns - (the largest oI which weigh seven tones), Phat
Diem is a Iar cry Irom a European cathedral. Stone relieI angels overlook carved dragons and the
cathedral's two tones bell is accompanied by a giant brass gong.

In the area surrounding this massive stone and wood cathedral, the rice paddies are peppered
with stone churches. But, unlike these structures, built by Europeans and resembling typical
churches oI the era, Phat Diem Cathedral was designed by a Vietnamese priest, known as Father
Sau Between 1875 and 1899, Father Sau rallied the local population to build the cathedral, Iive
side chapels, three artiIicial grottoes, an artiIicial lake and a bell tower. He died the same year as
the complex was Iinished.

Local Catholics view the cathedral's survival as almost miraculous; a bombing in 1972 Ilattened
two oI the side chapels and caused the cathedral to lean by some 20 degrees. Despite the ongoing
war, restoration started immediately and today, the only obvious trace oI the bombing is the
destruction oI some intricate stone carvings.

The best day to visit Phat Diem is on a Sunday, when the district's roads are Iull oI people,
walking or cycling towards the cathedral or one oI the dozens oI neighboring churches. And on
Christmas Eve, an unIorgettable midnight mass, attended by thousands and accompanied by a
brass band, is held in the cathedral grounds.

!hu Cam Cathedral
Location: Phu Cam Cathedral is situated at Phuoc Vinh Ward, Hue
City.
Characteristic: Phu Cam Cathedral was built in a modern
architectural style, designed by the architect Ngo Viet Duc.

In early 1963, the construction oI the cathedral was built. To 1965
only the Saint Palace was built and then to 1967, the cathedral was
basically completed. Supporting pillars were concreted closely
attached to the walls and gradually bended ahead. The three
supporting pillars at each oI Iour corners stretch out and create a
Iairly large space to embrace the whole oI Saint Palace and Saint
Altar.

The Saint Palace is a round shape with Iootsteps and on the top there is a smaller round shape
with the altar made oI marble bloc. Temporary house was closely built to the backstage oI the
cathedral Iitted in the concave part behind and settle on a high platIorm in the center. In the two
wings oI the cruciIix, there is the tomb oI the Iormer archbishop Philippe Nguyen Kim Dien
(1921-1988) in the leIt and in the opposite right - the altar Ior presenting the Saint.

In Iront oI the Phu Cam Main Cathedral there are two mounding statues: the right is the Saint
Phero, the leIt is Saint Paulo and other missionaries oI the Phu Cam diocese. The open-space oI
Phu Cam main cathedral looks like an opening-mouth-dragon and in general Phu Cam Cathedral
with its top perpendicularly stretching to the sky is very puriIied and Iull oI artistic and religious
characters.

Duc Ba Cathedral
The Duc Ba (Our Ladys) Cathedral is the spiritual and
cultural crucible oI the Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City.

AIter the Iirst French colonizing Iorce arrived in Viet Nam in
the mid-19th Century, it took only 21 years beIore the
country had a cathedral to match the hulking Gothic ediIices
oI France itselI. The cathedral is supposed to represent the
glory oI the French Empire. Yet, as is always the case with
colonization, this attempt to import French traditions into
Viet Nam transIormed the colonizers` culture in the process.
Even though the cathedral is built in a Western architectural
style, it has a uniquely Eastern aspect. The resplendent Governor's Palace, completed in 1875,
symbolized the regime's political power in Asia.

And Iive years later, the Duc Ba (Our Lady's) Cathedral was inaugurated, and became the
spiritual and cultural crucible oI the French presence in the Orient. Several architects put Iorward
design proposals Ior the cathedral, but in 1877 the authorities selected Mr Bourard, who was
Iamed Ior his religious architecture. He envisaged, and executed, a basilica-like structure with a
square plan. The church is composed oI two main central bays with two sidereal corridors, with
tall pillars and light coming in through sets oI high windows, and a semi-circular shrine. The
style Iollows a Roman pattern, although the outside contains some modiIications: the cathedral's
vaults are Gothic, and a modern steel skeleton supports the whole building.

In 1894 a pointed minaret was added to the bell tower, at the behest oI an architect named
Gardes, who was also responsible Ior the Xa Tay Palace, the building that now houses the
Municipal People's Committee. The cathedral is a lot smaller than those in France, but it was the
largest in the French empire. The interior is very large: the principal shrine and two additional
bays are 93m long, and reach 35m in width at one point .The semi-circular shrine at the rear seats
a choir during services, and there are Iive chapels .The walls are made oI Bien Hoa granite,
combined with red tiles Irom Marseilles, all without coating. Red tiles Irom France were also
used on the rooIs, but they were later replaced with tiles oI equal quality Irom Phu Huu. Natural
light streams in through stained-glass windows which were made by the Lorin Company Irom
the French town oI Sartre.

The whole building is well-ventilated thanks to a system oI air-holes placed above and under the
windows. The belIry is 57m high. For a long time it was the highest structure in the city centre,
and was the Iirst thing an arriving traveler would see when approaching the city by boat. The
cathedral bells weigh a combined 28,850kg.In 1885, the Iloor was taken apart and new pillars
were added, because the original Ioundation could not bear the cathedral's weight. Stepping
inside the cathedral, tourists see a line oI Chinese characters eulogizing the Jesus' mother, "the
innocent and unblemished Virgin Mother", and stained-glass portraits oI Vietnamese believers
amid Asiatic plants. On the square in Iront oI the cathedral, there is a statue oI the Virgin Mother
made oI white marble, symbolizing peace. All told, it's an unusual building: a Western
architectural and religious style that has been transplanted into, and adapted to, the East. The
colonizers were trying to impose French belieIs and customs onto Viet Nam; but once that
culture arrived on Asia's shores, it took on a liIe oI its own. The cathedral is seen as a unique
synthesis, adding an unmistakable Oriental Ilavor to an ancient Occidental recipe.

a Vang Cathedral
Our Lady oI La' Vang is the central and national shrine oI Vietnam, located approximately 55
miles Irom the Iormer capitol Hue. The name is derived Irom a type oI Iern which used to grow
in great quantities in the region.

During much oI the 18th century, Vietnam was embattled in various struggles Ior power and
domination. The northern regions oI the kingdom Iell under the authority oI the lords oI the
Trinh Iamily, while in the southern realm the Nguyen lords took power. As the 18th century
drew toward a close, both oI their rules were shaken and threatened by peasant uprisings and
emerging rebel Iorces.

King Canh Thinh knew that Nguyen Anh received support Irom the French missionary, and
worried that the Vietnamese Catholics would also
endorse his reign. He began to restrict the practice
oI Catholicism in Vietnam. On August 17, 1798,
King Canh Thinh issued an anti-Catholic edict
and an order to destroy all Catholic churches and
seminaries. A horrendous persecution oI
Vietnamese Catholics ensued and lasted until
1886. Even aIter Nguyen Anh succeeded in
reclaiming his throne as King Gia Long (1802-
1820), his three successors renewed the vehement campaign against Catholics. These emperors
ordered horriIic punishments Irom torture to death.

During this horrible persecution, many Catholics Iled into the dense jungle Iorest in the central
region oI Vietnam near what is now known as Quang Tri. Here they suIIered Irom the bitter
cold, wild animals, great hunger and deadly sicknesses, and prepared themselves Ior martyrdom.
At night they would gather into groups and pray in common, especially the Most Holy Rosary.

Unexpectedly, one night there appeared to all oI them a beautiIul Lady in a long cape, holding a
Child in Her arms, with two angels at her sides. The apparition was surrounded by numerous
small twinkling lights. She presented herselI as the Mother oI God, encouraged and consoled
them, and gave them a special sign oI her maternal loving care. Our Lady told them to boil the
Iern leaves Irom the surrounding trees to use Ior medicine. She Iurther promised that Irom that
day on, all those who came to this place to pray would have their prayers heard, and their
petitions granted.

AIter the persecution in 1802, the Catholics leI their jungle hiding place and returned to their
villages. Word oI the apparitions oI Our Lady oI La' Vang spread among the people and out to
other regions. Despite its desolate location in the high mountains, groups oI people continued to
Iind ways to penetrate the deep and dangerous jungle to obtain the promised intercession oI the
Blessed Virgin. The pilgrims came with axes, spears, canes, and drums to scare away the wild
animals. They also carried Ilags, Ilowers, and rosaries. The pilgrimages continued every year,
despite the religious persecutions.

Among many groups oI Vietnamese Catholics that were burnt alive because oI their Faith, was a
group oI 30 people who were seized aIter they came out oI hiding in the Iorest oI La' Vang. At
their request, their executions took them to the spot oI the apparitions and killed them there. In
1885, the chapel was destroyed by anti-Catholic Ianatics.

In 1886, aIter the persecution had oIIicially ended, Bishop Gaspar ordered a church to be built in
honor oI Our Lady oI La' Vang. Because oI its precarious location and limited Iunding, it took 15
years Ior the church to be completed. It was consecrated by the Bishop himselI in a solemn
ceremony that lasted Irom August 6th to August 8th, 1901, with over 12,000 people in
attendance. The Bishop proclaimed Our Lady oI La' Vang to be the Protectress oI the Catholics.
In 1928, a larger church was built to accommodate the increasing number oI pilgrims.

On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II, during the canonization ceremony Ior the 117 Vietnamese
Martyrs, publicly and repeated recognized the importance and signiIicance oI Our Lady oI La'
Vang, and expressed a desire to renovate the La' Vang Basilica in commemoration oI the oI the
coming 200th anniversary oI the Iirst apparition oI Mary there.

With this completed, and over 100,000 pilgrims in attendance at La' Vang in August 1998 Ior the
200th anniversary celebrations, the Holy Father said, "In visiting the Shrine oI Our Lady oI La'
Vang, Who is so loved by the Vietnamese IaithIul, pilgrims come to entrust to Her their joys and
sorrows, their hopes and suIIerings. In this way, they call on God and become intercessors Ior
their Iamilies and nation, asking the Lord to inIuse in the heart oI all people Ieelings oI peace,
Iraternity, and solidarity, so that all the Vietnamese will be more united every day in the
construction oI a world based on essential spiritual and moral values, where each one will be
recognized because oI his dignity as a son oI God, and be able to also go in Ireedom and a son
toward the Father oI Heaven, 'rich in Mercy'.".

This article written by Lanh Nguyen Irom Vietnam Heritage Travel
For original article, please visit:
http://vietnamheritagetravel.com/news/1363-top-5-churches-in-vietnam-Ior-christmas-and-new-
year-celebration.html
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