Unseen in Bangkok
The First Portuguese Church in Thon Buri
“Santa Cruz” is Portuguese, meaning a great
cross. The church, the first Catholic church in Thon Buri,
was built by Bishop Gor, a French priest, and the Portuguese
Christians who fled the falling capital of Ayutthaya in 1767.
The standing church building, built in 1916, is a graceful
Italian-style, one-storied structure, facing the river. The
octagonal-dome belfry atop the building is topped with a small
niche to house a cross. Inside the belfry are dozens of bells,
to be chimed on auspicious occasions throughout the years.
For example, they played the king’s royal anthem during Rama
VII’s boat trip past the church. The downstairs of the building
is a meeting hall with arches decked with floral festoons,
with wooden ventilation panels.
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