Having as long history as Saigon China Town, Nga Sau Church (officially known as Saint Jean d’Arc Church) contribute to making Saigon more special. Surrounded by the 6-way intersection of three streets lined with green old trees and two parks, the church is one of the churches having the best location in Ho Chi Minh City. The highlights of the church include worshiping a Christian female saint and being built on a land of a former Chinese cemetery.
General information about Nga Sau Church
Location: 116A Hung Vuong Street, Ward 9, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the church on Google Maps. It is about 4 km from Ben Thanh Market. The church is located on the land next to the crossroads of three streets Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ngo Gia Tu and Nguyen Chi Thanh. The crossroads are called Ngã Sáu (6-way intersection) so that the church has been called Nhà Thờ Ngã Sáu (Nga Sau Church).
Opening hours: 5:00 – 18:30.
Official name: Church of Saint Joan of Arc or Nhà thờ Thánh Jeanne d’Arc. Common name: Nga Sau Church or Nhà Thờ Ngã Sáu.
Mass Schedule: Sunday: 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, 16:00, 18:00; other days: 5:00, 17:30.
At the end of the 19th century, the population of Chinese people in Cho Lon was growing quickly. They built Phuc Kien Hospital, pagodas, temples and have a cemetery for Chinese people. Besides Cha Tam Church (Church of Saint Francisco Xavier), they go to mass at St. Michael and All Angels Church (Nhà Thờ Tổng Lãnh Thiên Thần Micae).
In 1919, Father Gioan Baotixita Huynh Tinh Huong was assigned to the Priest of St. Michael and All Angels Church which had been degraded. The number of Chinese Christians was continuing to increase so that Father Huong decided to build a new church.
Father Huong bought a piece of land – a part of the Chinese Cemetery (Plaine des tombeaux) thanks to its good location and the cheap price. After the cemetery was removed and turned into a green space with green grass and lines of trees. Not similar to Cha Tam Church, Nga Sau Church is not surrounded by any fence but Da Trach and Van Lang Parks, streets lined with green old trees.
Father Huynh Tinh Huong had Nga Sau Church to be built in 1922, the construction was finished in May 1928.
Nga Sau Church
Although there is no information about the design and architecture of the Church of Saint Joan of Arc, lots of researchers believe that Father Huong design the church. The red tiled roofs form a true cross. The top of the cross is at the position of Jesus altar at the back of the church, the bottom of the cross is at the main entrance.
The light orange color used for the exterior makes the church look sacred and a little mysterious. Nga Sau Church has tree bell towers, the biggest and highest is in the middle and the two smaller ones are on two sides. Only the highest has bells, the others have no bell and perhaps are for decoration. Three of them have green cloister domes. The middle tower has a green steeple, a spire and a white cross on its top. Each of the small towers has a green cloister dome and a small statue of winged angel with trumpet. The church owns 5 bells, cast in 1930. Each of the bells was named after a priest or a devotee. The bells include Paul Van, I.B., Phong, etc.
The exterior wall covered with stones, square decorations make the foot of the church look strong. The arched main entrance is decorated with a semicircle decor with a cross and flower and leaf wrought iron. The two pillars with beautiful decors on their top blends well with the wrought iron patterns, drawing a contrast to the stones, square and round decorations on the facade.
Above the main entrance is the statue of Saint Joan of Arc, who is considered a heroine of France thanks to her important role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War. Louvers are abundant on the walls of the towers so that the towers are always ventilated.
Looked from one side, the church stretches for a few hundred meters. The higher part, corresponding to the horizontal line of the true cross has two arched entrances. There are 10 pillars on the left (or right) sidewall and 8 windows with metal grids, 8 arched windows.
Inside the church, pillars, walls and vault are painted white and light blue. Round arches, stained glass windows and the rib vault are the most recognizable features of Gothic architecture.
The church has two lines of square pillars and round arches between the pillars. Two lines of pillars divide the church into three parts. The right and left parts are narrower than the middle one and have conventional ceilings with a flat surface. The middle part – the largest one has beautiful vaults.
Some documents show that the church was designed in the Gothic style. But architect Nguyen Minh Hoang supposes that the building is influenced by Roman architecture. He points out the barrel vault of Roman architecture instead of rib vault in Gothic architecture. The lines on the vault are only for decoration, not the real structure.
At the back of the church is the cross of Chris on the wall, an altar in the middle and statues of Virgin Mary and Jesus on two pillar pedestals.
Virgin Mary Mountain
Behind the church, at the corner of two alleys there is a beautiful garden called Virgin Mary Mountain (Núi Đức Mẹ Lộ Đức). On two pillars of the gate are place two statues of angels with two wings. The gate signboard read “Đức Bà Phù Hộ Các Giáo Hữu” (Mother Mary Bless Christians). Nice gravel paths, statues of Christ and Virgin Mary, stone caves, old trees, plants, vines and flowers blend perfectly, making a great place to pray. Most of the statues are illuminated with colorful lights at night. Virgin Mary Mountain is a cool and stunning place not only during the day but also at night.
Opening hours: 5:00 – 12:00; 14:00 – 21:00.
Green spaces around Church of Saint Jeanne d’Arc
Coming to Nga Sau Cathedral, admiring the beauty of the Church of Saint Jeanne d’Arc, feel our heart calm in front of Jesus Christ, walking in cool parks are worthy things to do in the hustle and bustle Ho Chi Minh City.