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Hanoi VN - St. Joseph's Cathedral | by Daniel Mennerich
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Hanoi VN - St. Joseph's Cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral (Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nội, Nhà thờ Chính tòa Thánh Giuse) is a church on Nha Tho (Church) Street in the Hoàn Kiếm District of Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a late 19th-century Gothic Revival (Neo-Gothic style) church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country.


Construction began in 1886, with the architectural style described as resembling Notre Dame de Paris. The church was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government in Indochina when it opened in December 1886. It is the oldest church in Hanoi.


The cathedral conducts mass several times during the day. For Sunday evening mass at 6:00 PM, large crowds spill out into the streets. The prayer hymns are broadcast and Catholics who are unable to enter the cathedral congregate in the street and listen to hymns.


In 1872, the French under Jean Dupuis captured the Hanoi Citadel, before Francis Garnier conquered the rest of the city. A decade passed before the colonist were in full control of Hanoi due to rebel insurgency. Construction of the cathedral most likely started after this time and it was completed in December 1886, a year before the federation of French Indochina was established as part of its colonial empire. It was built by the French missionary and apostolic vicar of Tonkin Paul-François Puginier who obtained permission from the then colonial French administration. It was built on the site of Bao Thien Pagoda,] a sacred Buddhist temple that served as an "administrative center" of Tonkin during the pre-French colonial era. In order to facilitate the construction of the church, the pagoda—which was built at the time when the city was founded during the Lý Dynasty in the 11th century—was demolished. The cathedral was consecrated on December 24, 1886.


After the Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam following the Geneva Accords in 1954, the Catholic Church suffered decades of persecution. Priests were arrested, and church property was seized and expropriated. St. Joseph's Cathedral was not spared and it was closed down until Christmas Eve of 1990, when Mass was permitted to be celebrated there again. In 2008, protests related to religious symbols occurred at the lot next to the cathedral.

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Taken on October 10, 2016