130-year-old Mekong Delta church a marriage of West, East

Vi Hung Church in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang catches the eye with its characteristically red brick roofs, reminiscent of Vietnamese pagoda architecture.

Vi Hung Church, founded by Father Phaolo Nguyen Thanh Can, was established in the late 19th century, and initially named Vi Thanh. The church is situated by Xa No canal in Area 2, Ward 4 of Vi Thanh Town in Hau Giang Province.

The roof design, though resembling the archetypical detail seen at Vietnamese pagodas, hosts no carvings along the eaves.

According to Father Anton Vu Van Triet, the church is designed based on the idea of ​​cultural integration, reflecting traditional Vietnamese architecture.

The two-floor church is 21 meters wide and 41 meters long. The ground floor is used for community activities such as catechisms, performing arts and children’s games. Praying takes place on the first floor.

Arches are Gothic-inspired while the window frames reflect classic Roman architectural styling.

In 1890, Vi Hung Church was built with leaves by Mua O canal, 2 km from the current location. Between 1897 and 1915, the church was moved to Xa No canal, where it was renovated using leaves, tiles and wooden pillars.

In 1925, Father Phero Cao Phuoc Nhan rebuilt the entire structure employing solid bricks and tile roofing. The church was inaugurated in 1943 along with a school and a parish house. It unfortunately suffered from damage during the wars.

In 2007, the old church was dismantled to make way for a new one. Most church builders were local Christians guided by Micae Tran Do. All materials used were bought from Dong Nai, a neighboring province of Saigon.

The church is adorned with colored glass windows with archetypical images of the religion.

After several bouts of rebuilding and renovation, many of the church’s artifacts remain intact – one of which is a statue of a Christian family built in 1956, and a statue of Mother Maria standing on an artificial mountain, built in 1974.