Solitude in the Portuguese Church of Kalawar

I was happy because of my visit to Bangkok Cathedral. My soul was awashed with the beauty of that church. However, I felt that something is still missing. My day's adventure is not yet complete because I didn't get an ample time for prayers and contemplation. Sister Vianney, who helped me enter the being-renovated cathedral, only gave me few minutes to pray. I really wanted to pray for an hour or at least to finish praying the Rosary. My soul yearned for solitude in front of the Lord's altar.

I was walking along Thanon Charoen Krung when I spotted a street marker pointing the way to “Kalawar Church”. Since it was still early afternoon, I decided to go to the church with a hope that it is Catholic.

I discovered that the church is inside the compound of Kularbwittaya School. I am glad that I was not prohibited to enter. I knew that the church is a Catholic church the moment I saw it.
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Side view of Kalawar Church

I also knew, the moment I laid my eyes on this church, that it will be another beautiful Catholic church.

The official name of the church is Holy Rosary Church but its original name is Kalawar Church. Kalawar or kalawario is the Thai word for Mt. Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified.
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Tall spire of Kalawar Church

If Bangkok Cathedral is a Romanesque styled church then Kalawar Church is a Neo-Gothic church. The differences between Bangkok Cathedral and Kalawar Church is a reflection their history. The cathedral served as the home of the missionaries Society of Foreign Mission of Paris. The Kalawar Church, on the other hand, was the church of the Portuguese who rejected the French missionaries.
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Kalawar Church

The current structure was built during the reign of King Rama V, a.k.a. Chulalongkorn.

If the exterior is beautiful then the interior is breath taking. The beautiful designs of the ceiling and the altar was enough to make me kneel in reverence and almost made me shout. I suddenly felt a joy for seeing something that is both elegant and holy.
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Interior of Kalawar Church

I also like the altar because the tabernacle is at the center, which is its rightful place. The Santa Mesa (holy table) is engraved with the image five holy women; namely Saint Agatha of Sicily, Saint Agnes, Saint Cecilia, Saint Lucy, and Saint Filomena. These five women was brutally killed because they didn't denounce Jesus Christ.
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Altar of Kalawar Church

At the center of the altar is the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary with the infant Jesus handing out rosaries to Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena.

I spent around two hours praying. I am missing a lot of things and people in my home. I felt the weight of being a foreigner in a place that I can never call “home”. It is good that God helped me find this church so that I can converse with Him in solitude.
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Image of Jesus Christ in Kalawar Church
Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart

What I like with Kalawar Church is its remoteness. It is like a little secret in the middle of Bangkok. Tourists are rare so I wasn't distracted by the camera flashes and the noise of disrespectful tourists. The only “distraction” that I experienced was when the altar was being prepared for the evening Mass.
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St. Joseph and the young Jesus in Kalawar Church
Saint Joseph and the young Jesus.
There are beautiful images inside this church but the most precious of these is the image of Our Lady of the Temple, which I forgot to take a photo. It was said the image was brought by Catholics when they fled the original church in Ayutthaya during the Burma-Siam War. My favorite image is this image of Saint Michael the Archangel:
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Saint Michael the Archangel in Kalawar Church


The ceiling above the pew is covered with cloth that has beautiful design.
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Ceiling of Kalawar Church


However, the ceiling above the altar is much better.
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Ceiling of Kalawar Church's altar.


The ceiling depicts the many titles of Mama Mary like the “Seat of Wisdom”, “Tower of Ivory” and “Star of the Morning”.

The Kalawar Church is very away from my place in Thailand but it served as my refuge. It is now my favorite church in Thailand. It is beautiful and the best of all is that it is very quiet, which is perfect for those moments when I want to hear His voice.

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Are you a Catholic visiting Thailand? Do you have questions about finding a church in Bangkok? Tell us about it by leaving a comment.

19 comments:

  1. ganda din neto ha
    religious ka sigurong tao i mean you can choose to search for other place peo church and hinahanap mo
    saludo ako sayo du

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Di naman ako religious. Talaga lang na ang hanap ko ay mga simbahan kaya 'yun ang inuuna ko bago pa man ang ibang mga tourist sites.

      Delete
  2. wow, may mga majestic catholic churches din pala sa Thailand. nice shots!

    Anyways parekoy, I want to know what do you want for Christmas. You've been tagged!
    http://fiel-kun.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-i-want-for-christmas.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ni-tag mo rin pala ako Parekoy. Hehe. Dalawa na kayo ni Xoxo. Pasensya na at naging busy ako masyado during the Christmas Season. Gawin ko na lang ito later tutal hanggang Epiphany pa naman ang Pasko. ;-)

      Delete
  3. ang ganda nong church po. solemn at parang tahimik.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tahimik po talaga ang simbahan na ito. I usually go to this church to pray in silence lalo na kapag na-super homesick ako.

      Delete
  4. Ganda din ng church nila dyan ha! Kala ko walang catholic church dyan kasi nga ang alam ko mg buddhist sila.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maraming Buddhist dito sa Thailand pero napadpad din dito ang mga Katolikong misyonero kaya nagkaroon ng mga simbahan dito sa Thailand.

      Delete
  5. matagal na bang nabuo itong church na ito? yung altar nilaang ganda yung hanging pulpit meron din( not sure kung anong tawag dun exactly) pero most of the churches in the Philippines kasi, wala na yung ganon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Medyo bago lang itong simbahan na ito. It was built during the reign of King Chulalongkorn, who was a king from 1853 to 1910. Walang panama ang edad ng simbahan na ito sa mga lumang simbahan sa Pilipinas. 'yun lang mas maganda ang Kalawar Church sa ilang mga kasing-edad niyang simbahan sa bansa natin.

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  6. This one's in Thailand. I wish they have churches like this here... Stunning!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also wish that they have churches like the Kalawar Church in my country, too.

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  7. Gosh!!! Another stunningly beautiful church in Thailand. When I went in the 80's, they only took me to temples...temples...and more temples. Wish they had taken me to see all the lovely churches like this one.

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    1. Catholic churches are not part of the many Bangkok tours. The reason for this is that tourists expected to see Buddhist temples so that's where they are taken. If tourists demand to visit these churches then they I think it will be inlcuded in the itinerary of those tours.

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  8. hi, my fiance and i are going to bangkok this june.
    would you know if filipinos can have a catholic wedding at a catholic church in bangkok? thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tanya.

      Filipino Catholics can have a wedding in a Catholic church in Thailand. Many Filipinos who already migrated to Thailand were married in Catholic churches.

      I think that there are additional steps that you must do when you get married in Thailand. Marriages in Catholic churches is not honored by the Thai government. This means that you need to have a civil wedding (maybe a simple one) to make your wedding legal in the eyes of the government. You can do this civil wedding after your church wedding.

      Delete
  9. I always go to Holy Redeemer Church on Ruam Rudee whenever I am in Bangkok! Looks like a Buddhist temple, because it was built to blend in with the great Thai Buddhist culture!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct. That's why this church is unique.

      Delete

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