Living in a multi-racial country like Singapore, I’m sure that many of us have many friends who have different faiths – Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism amongst many others. Personally, despite the fact that I have been to several different places of worship, I honestly haven’t quite decide on which to settle with so until I finally figure out what fulfills my spiritual self, I shall remain as a free-thinker.
Nevertheless, religion is a topic that I find to be very fascinating as my knowledge in the different core religions in Singapore is very limited to the stuff that I had learnt back in Primary School … which, frankly, was a long time ago! When I first knew that the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) has lined up a series of religious-cum-architecture related walking tours for the month of June, I was ecstatic and raring to embark on a new learning journey (E.g. I finally know the difference between a church and a cathedral)! Fortunately, my dear friend, Sara, was equally enthusiastic and together, we went on a 90mins “In the Footsteps of the Faithfaul” tour led by 4 student volunteer guides from Raffles Institution. I can imagine how nerve-wrecking it must be for the 16yrs old to be conducting a public tour so 3 cheers to them for being so daring and confident!
On another note, I have always wanted to visit Europe (so far, my current count includes Vatican City, Italy, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) as this continent is a treasure trove for lovers of history, art, architecture, and well, romance! Singapore, with its modern skyscrapers, has always been known as a cosmopolitan city with a breath-taking city skyline … But it doesn’t quite conjure an image of a historical city, does it? On hindsight, considering that we used to be a British colony, there is actually much to discover about our colonial buildings that were so significant in the shaping of our history. Through the tour, the few of us definitely had an enriching time not only learning about the past of the various religious monuments but also about how religion is intertwined with architecture.
In the Footsteps of the Faithful – An insight into the past & present worlds of Judaism and Christianity in Singapore.
1. The present site of St Andrew’s Cathedral was specially chosen for a church by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1823.
2. In 1838, tragedy struck as the original cathedral was struck by lightning twice and subsequently declared unsafe. As such, it was closed in 1852 and demolished 3 years later. The present day St Andrew’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1862.
3. Currently the largest cathedral in Singapore, St Andrew’s Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore and the mother church of 26 parishes and at least 55 congregations locally.
The Graham White Library, which is located at the North Transept Hall, was completed in 1952. It houses the Book of Remembrance that has a list of 27,000 names of both men and women who had given their lives between 1941 to 1945 for the country.
The Central Light is in memory of Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore and was dedicated in honour of him in 1961. The North Light and the South Light are in memory of Sir John Crawford, Governor of Singapore (1823-1826) and Maj. Gen. William Butterworth, Governor, 1843-1855, respectively. Their coats of arms are borne in the upper portions of the stained glass windows.
Wikipedia – St Andrew’s Cathedral
St Andrew’s Cathedral Official Site
1. Completed in 1833 (original building), the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Singapore. It is also the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archiocese of Singapore.
2. The current day cathedral was completed in 1847 and blessed by Father Jean-Marie Beurel who also founded St Joseph’s Institute (SJI) and the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) schools.
3. The architecture and design of the cathedral was inspired by 2 other famous churches located in London – St Martin-in-the-Fields and St Paul’s, Convent Garden. The round arches of the doors and windows indicate that the cathedral had also been heavily influenced by the Renaissance style.
Much of its architecture, just like the columns shown in the picture below, reflects a Greek temple-like influence.
To celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Holy See, the Archdiocese of Singapore had dedicated a bronze life-sized statue of the late Pope John Paul II that is now located within the grounds of the cathedral.
The Glorious Cross of 7.38m is a gift to Singapore from France during Jubilee 2000.
Wikipedia – Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
1. The Church of St Peter and St Paul was erected sometime between 1869 – 1870 due to an increasing need to serve the Chinese and Indian Catholic community. It became an exclusive Chinese parish after the Indian congregation moved over to the Church of Our Lady Lourdes. It was, once upon a time, the main church serving the Chinese dialect groups and community before the Hokkein, Cantonese and Hakka moved to the Church of the Sacred Heart and Church of Saint Teresa in the early 1900s.
2. Although the church was heavily influenced by Gothic style, there were some Oriental elements in its architecture. Some examples include: Chinese wordings, lotus flowers and oriental flower motifs.
3. Do you know that the Church of St Peter and St Paul was once used to host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings back in 1980s? How interesting!
Wikipedia – Church of St Peter and St Paul
1. Constructed in 1878, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue is not only the oldest Jewish synagogue in Singapore, but also in Southeast Asia.
2. Unlike the other places of worship that we had visited earlier the day, the synagogue is quite simple and plain in its architecture and design as it is void of the usual religious relics and statues. Simplicity is the key. Needless to say, the most prominent feature of the Jewish synagogue is the Jewish symbol of the Star of David.
3. As men and women are not allowed to be together in the synagogue during service, they have to enter the synagogue using different entrances. In addition, there is a balcony on the 2nd floor that is solely reserved for females.
Sabbath (the Jewish Holy Day) is celebrated every Friday evening to Saturday evening. As such, we were not allowed to enter the premises. Anyway, for those of you who are keen to visit the synagogue, please take note that you will have to send an email to the synagogue for permission before you may be granted entry.
Wikipedia – Maghain Aboth Synagogue