Survey Promo
RVA App Promo Image

Assumption Cathedral of Bangkok: A Fruit of Hundreds of Years of Tolerance, Persecution and Perseverance

This masterpiece rose from the ground after many years of both tolerance and persecution of missionaries and their perseverance.

Assumption Cathedral, a stunning masterpiece in Bangkok, stands as a testament to centuries of perseverance by missionaries amidst periods of both tolerance and persecution.

Its construction began long before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand in 1782, culminating in its completion in 1821 during the reign of King Rama II.

This historical edifice symbolizes the enduring faith and determination of those who sought to sow the seeds of Christianity in Siam, now Thailand, despite numerous challenges.

The Historical Journey of Christianity in Thailand

Learn about the lives and sacrifices of the missionaries whose remains rest in the crypt beneath the Assumption Cathedral, including the beatified Thai priest, Fr. Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, and the cathedral's significance in Thai Catholic history.

This masterpiece rose from the ground after many years of both tolerance and persecution of missionaries and their perseverance. 

The persecution was sustained, and perseverance was carried on building this church long before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand in 1782.

The construction of the Assumption Cathedral was completed in 1821 during the reign of King Rama II, the second monarch of Siam under the Chakri dynasty. 

Siam was the official name of Thailand until 1939. Thailand assumed Siam as its name again shortly before World War 2 but called itself Thailand anew in 1949.

Christianity tried to start sowing seeds in Siam, an absolute monarchy at the time when a French missionary set foot in it in 1550.

More missionaries arrived in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand about 90 kilometers north of Bangkok. 

Ayutthaya became a global seat of commercial and diplomatic affairs from the 14th century to the 18th. 

However, the Burmese army destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, putting an end to its more than 400 years of existence as a cosmopolitan region and significant international hub.

Jeronimo da Cruz, and Sebastião da Canto, both Dominican friars, arrived in 1567. But the Burmese killed them two years later. 

In the late 1600s, the rulers suspected the Catholic priests of working as spies for France in colonizing Siam. The priests were put in jail. Some were executed. 

Spanning 300 years, from the 17th century to the 19th, missionaries received tolerance from the Buddhist locals as well as the royal rulers. But they also suffered from the persecution by the rulers. 

King Naria, a monarch of Ayutthaya, gave the missionaries tolerance as he was interested in the West. 

But after his death, government officials persecuted the missionaries for fear of mass converting the Buddhist people. Some were expelled. Others were executed. 

King Taksin gave tolerance to the French missionaries who arrived in 1780.

The monarch was interested in the scientific knowledge and medicine of the West. 

Other Christian denominations arrived from different Western countries in the following years. 

Christian churches were allowed to be built. 

Honoring the Legacy of Early Missionaries

The Assumption Cathedral was a wish by French missionary Fr. Pascal in 1809. 

Construction began. In 1821, the church was completed during the time of King Rama II. 

The church initially took the appearance of traditional Thai-style architecture. It was briefly referred to as Assumption Church after its completion. 

Then it was soon renamed Assumption Cathedral. It became the seat of the bishop of Bangkok Diocese. 

The number of Catholics in Thailand grew over the years. As a result, the church decided to rebuild it to meet the demand of the growing community of Catholics. 

In the span of more or less 10 years, the church transformed into its current magnificent structure. A tall rectangular Romanesque church. 

It's a beauty to behold in the capital. The fruit of hundreds of years of perseverance by the early missionaries, who rose above all forms of challenges. 

The wind flows through tall arched windows and doors. 

The church's main entrance looks to the west, where a river flows in the distance. The front bears intricate details, hard work, and seasoned skills, making the church a stunning and riveting beauty. 

Inside the church, the high and wide arched ceiling with amber lines and objects is mesmerizing in its intricate details. 

A crypt rests underneath the sanctuary. The crypt holds the remains of missionaries and late bishops. One of the remains belonged to Fr. Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, a Thai Catholic priest. 

Kitbamrung was put in jail by Thai authorities after he was accused of spying for and collaborating with the French. He died from tuberculosis and abuse in 1944.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square on March 5, 2000. An altar on the left side of the church was built in his honor. 

Located on Oriental Avenue, New Road, in Bang Rak District of Bangkok, the Assumption Cathedral was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1984, and by Pope Francis in 2019.

Let us know how you feel!

2 reactions