Monday, March 26, 2012

Accidental Tourist - March 2012 Walking Tour "Stained Glass Stories"

I am a sucker for stories so I went on the "Stained Glass Stories" Walking Tour that was organised by the Preservation of Monuments Board. We walked around the central area covering 3 national monuments i.e. St. Joseph's Church, Church of St. Peter and Paul and the previous CHIJ Chapel. All 3 monuments are representative of Gothic architecture which features the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttressThe Gothic style, when applied to an ecclesiastical building, emphasizes verticality and light (info from Wikipedia)

Briefly, stained glass is used in churches as it represents the idea of reaching God, both in height and light. Stained glass requires skilled workers and those shown during the walk were either made in Belgium or France. Stained glass also served as visual aids of teaching the religion when English was not widely used in the early days.

The tour started at 3p.m. on a hot Saturday afternoon with the grounds of St. Joseph's Church @ Victoria Street (short deviation: the streets Queen Street and Victoria Street are both named after Queen Victoria).    
Entering St. Joseph's Church always brings back lovely memories of my younger schooling days attending mass as I was attending school at St. Anthony's Convent (more info at Wikipedia & the 100th Anniversary book available in PDF here). 
Anyway, back to St. Joseph's Church, the building was built in the Gothic style by the Portuguese Mission - the original church was constructed from 1906 to 1912 with its foundation-stone laid two years earlier.The present Saint Joseph's Church, completed in 1912, was built on the same site by the notable firm Swan & MacLaren (same company responsible many notable monuments of Singapore like Raffles Hotel, Cenotaph, and Tanjong Pagar Railway). The stained glass of St. Joseph's is mainly blue and red and all made in Belgium (signed at the bottom of the stained glass) (info from Wikipedia). Besides its lovely stained glass, St. Joseph's also has lovely blue and white tiles depicting the religious scenes on the outside walls of the church. 

Moving onto our next stop i.e. Church of St. Peter and Paul one of the oldest church built in 1869-1870. The stained glass of this Church is manufactured in France with the names of the saints featured in the stained glass in French. This church is also a familiar one to me personally as I often visit this church for mass in my younger days. 

The last stop is at the former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus chapel; now known as CHIJMES Hall This complex of convent buildings has a Gothic-style chapel. It was used as a Catholic convent for 131 years, with Caldwell House constructed in 1840–1841 and the chapel in 1904. The chapel, now a multi-purpose hall, is known as CHIJMES Hall (赞美礼堂), and Caldwell House, now an art gallery, have both been gazetted as national monuments (info from Wikipedia). The stained glass here were produced in Belgium. One of the interesting story here relates to the Gate of Hope, where at this small gate, many babies were abandoned in baskets to be picked by the Sisters of the Convent. 
Till the next time, onto the world and beyond!  

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