Exploring Ayutthaya Historical Park (Part 4): St. Joseph Church of Ayutthaya

Searching for a Catholic church in Thailand is like finding a needle in the haystack. Catholics are rare in Thailand that they’re only 0.46% of the total Thai population. This is the reason why I was so happy when I saw a Catholic church on the other side of the river during my tour around the ruins of Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Ayutthaya Historical Park - Church by the River

I biked around 30 minutes just to reach this church. There were no clouds in the sky and the sun burned me with full force. All the sweat and exhaustion paid off when I finally reached the church and then welcomed by the gold and white colors of the Vatican flag.
Flags in Ayutthaya Historical Park

A cemetery greeted me when I entered the gate.

Ayutthaya Historical Park - Cemetery near St. Joseph Church

I spent some time looking at some of the interesting tombs and markers, some of which combined Siamese and Christian elements like this one:

Grave marker near St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

The engraving definitely depicts the child Jesus but in a posing similar to that of Buddha. The necklace around his neck is similar to the Buddhist beads.

Image of the Holy Child in St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

Another tomb marker depicts the Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

Even this marker has Siamese art elements. Just look at the lotus flowers at the three ends of the cross.

Old Crosses in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

Some of the tomb markers are half-buried in the ground. I believe that these are the tombs for people buried a long time ago.

St. Joseph Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in Thailand. I believe that it was older than the Catholic churches in Bangkok since Ayutthaya was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam.

St. Joseph Church was first built in wood in 1673 after King Narai provided the French missionaries with a large piece of land and assistance. It was said that the king was pleased with missionaries’ concern for the welfare of his people. This is also a political move since the king counted on the French to contain the influence of the Dutch.

Archaeological finds in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park
Excavated archaeological relics in St. Joseph Church.

The church was rebuilt in bricks between 1685 and 1695. Unfortunately, it was destroyed when Burma invaded Ayutthaya in 1767. The invading Burmese promised that no harm will come to the church if the Bishop, priests, and all Christians hiding in the church will surrender. The Christians surrendered but the Burmese didn’t keep their word. The church was looted and then burned.

The French missionaries, under the leadership of Bishop Jean Louis Vey, started to rebuild St. Joseph Church in 1883 and completed in 1891. Due its importance to the history of the Catholic Church in Siam, Bangkok Archbishop Michael Michai Kitbunchu started the renovation of the church in 2003.

St. Joseph Church located outside of Ayutthaya Historical Park

St. Joseph Church is in Romanesque style. Its façade is quite similar with Church of Kalawar in Bangkok because each church has a single bell tower at the center.

Inside St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

The interior of St. Joseph Church is not as grand as that in Bangkok Cathedral. But it was a breath of fresh air from the suffocating mass of ruins of old city of Ayutthaya.

The altar of St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

The image of St. Joseph, the parish’s patron saint, is at the altar. He is carrying the infant Jesus in his arms.

I say that St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya is simple yet its beauty is in its simplicity.

Stained glass windows of St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

I am glad to discover this church. I am also glad that the church was open and the good people of this church allowed me to stay for a while and take photos.

St. Joseph Church is the beacon of faith in the whole of Thailand. It stood for hundreds of years and I hope that it will stand for hundreds of years more.

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Read more about other Catholic churches in Thailand:

Our Lady Mother of God Church in Rangsit, Pathumthani
Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok
St. Louis Church in Bangkok
Kalawar Church in Bangkok
Bangkok Cathedral

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12 comments:

  1. Hi Ishmael, thank you for your visit and comment on my post. The St Joseph Parish Church that you found has very nice and unique designs. Even as you have said the tomb stones are designed with a mixture of Christian, Siamese and Buddhist elements.

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    1. Thank you also for visiting my blog. I'm glad to meet a new friend here in blogosphere. :-)

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  2. Beautiful crosses, those tomb stones. Love the stained glass windows too.

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    1. Actually, the tombstones reminds me of the video game Plants vs Zombies. :-P

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  3. This only proves that at some point, the Philippines and asian countries are very much connected and somehow, creates their own touch and culture in it.


    im so fascinated by the archi. :)

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    1. You're correct. Asian countries are connected by trade and the fact that Europeans tried to colonize all the Asian kingdoms.

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  4. I love the altar Ish...it's nice to see that even Thailand's entire population is mostly Buddhist, you can still find an gorgeous Catholic church here... thanks for touring us around!

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    1. Well, I made it my mission to find a Catholic church in any place I went to. Finding a church in Thailand is quite challenging.

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  5. Hooray! At least you've found one. :)

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  6. Interesting arts. The place speaks of so many loveliness. Arts is everything. :)

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