Huyen Sy Church (Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Huyện Sỹ, official name: The apostle church of St. Philippe) is a Catholic built-in 1902, located at 1, Ton That Tung Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This is the Church of Dui Market Parish and of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese. The church is well known because it has the largest campus in Ho Chi Minh City and has a special architectural style, including the grave and statue of Mr. Huyen Sy, one of the rich great landlords in South Vietnam in the late 19th century.
History of Huyen Sy Church
The church was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Le Phat Dat (Mr. and Mrs. Huyen Sy). The constructing began in 1902 according to the design of Father Bouttier, in 1905 it was inaugurated. The church is located on a plot of land high and larger than one hectare, is on the corner of Frère Louis (now Nguyen Trai Street) and Frère Guilleraut (now Ton That Tung Street).
In the beginning, the church was called Dui Market Church, which belonged to Cho Dui parish. On the other hand, the apostle Saint Philippe is the patron of Huyen Sy, so it is also called the Church of St. Philippe. However, the folk still call the Huyen Sy Church, and then gradually become the common name of this church.
Story about the church
Huyen Sy, whose birth name is Le Nhat Sy, born into a Catholic family in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City now), but his hometown was in Long An. Because of family difficulties, Le Nhat Sy worked as a boat driver to carry food to villagers. Later, there was a priest named Moulin who knew the situation of Le Nhat Sy’s family, so he received Sy as his adopted child to feed and study. Sy follows the priest to attend the seminary’s school. Le Nhat Sy finished primary school in Saigon and was sent to study at the catholic school in Penang, Malaysia by the priest, Moulin. Therefore, he was fluent in Latin, French, Chinese and Vietnamese. Because of the same name as a teacher, Le Nhat Sy changed his name into Le Phat Dat. After returning home, with a fluent foreign language, he was appointed by the French Cochinchine government to be an interpreter, then a member of the Province People Council (from 1880). He was also promoted to the district level, so people called him Huyen Sy (Huyen means district).
Luckily, the land he had bought achieved bumper crops for many consecutive, so he became rich. However, later, he spent most of his fortune on agricultural development and spreading Catholicism, as evidenced by the fact that he spent money to build two churches in Saigon: Dui Market Church (Huyen Sy Church) and Chí Hòa Church. His wife is Huynh Thi Tai, children are Le Thi Binh (mother of Nam Phuong Queen), Le Phat An, Le Phat Thanh, Le Phat Vinh, Le Phat Tan … all were inherited heritage and became great landlords.
Huyen Sy died in 1900 when Dui Market had been not built yet. And his wife died in 1920. After that, the bones of Mr. and Mrs. were buried next to the sanctuary of Dui Market Church. Previously there was a street in Ward 7, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, near Chi Hoa church, named Le Phat Dat. Around 2000, this street changed its name to Dang Lo Street.
Campus of Huyen Sy Church
Huyen Sy Church is considered to have the most spacious campus in Saigon. In front of the church, there is a statue of Vietnamese Martyrs, Mattheu Le Van Gam. Near the main gate, there is the guardian angel statue and the statue of St. Joseph.
On the left side of the campus is Mount Our Lady of Lourdes, built-in 1960. Every year on the 11th of February of the solar calendar, the local priests of the Dui Market are in the habit of celebrating Mass at this mountain to pray especially for patients. On the right side of the church is Canvé hill, a great atonement statue was built in 1974, under Father John Baptist Duong Hoang Thanh time.
Architecture of Huyen Sy Church
The church is bold of the Gothic architectural style. The majestic bell tower with a height of 57 meters, including the height of the cross and the statue of the Gaulois rooster. The bell tower has a cubic shape, the columns made of granite. Above the main door arch, there is a statue of St. Philippe made of the marble. Inside the tower, there are 4 bells made in France in 1905. Two large bells have a diameter of 1.05 meters donated by the son and daughter-in-law of Mr. Huyen Sy as Mr. John Baotixita Le Phat Thanh and Mrs. Anna Do Thi Thao. The two small bells of 0.95 meters in diameter were cast the same year as the bigs bell, were not recorded the name of the donor, perhaps from Mr. and Mrs. Huyen Sy.
The church is 40 meters long and 18 meters wide. The place for believers has 4 spaces. The columns are also covered with granite, which looks solid. The dome has many pointed bow-shaped parts. The walls have many windows, the tops are also pointed-bow-shaped. On the walls, there are many saint statues. Saint Palace has a statue of Jesus and other some statues of other saints. In the left roof space is Mr. Huyen Sy’s bust made of plaster, behind it is a patterned marble grave. On the grave is the statue of Mr. Huyen Sy with a lying position made of marble. In the right roof space is the bust of his wife, Huynh Thi Tai (1845-1920), behind it is also a patterned marble grave. On the grave is the statue of Mrs. Huyen Si also with lying position. In the end, there are 2 busts of his son and daughter-in-law, John Baotixita Le Phat Thanh and Anna Do Thi Thao.
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