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Immaculate Conception Church

The Oldest Catholic Church in Bangkok

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Immaculate Conception Church

The Immaculate Conception Church was first established in Thailand during the reign of King Narai the Great by Portuguese traders. Its name Immaculate Conception comes from the Catholic belief that by the will of God the Virgin Mary conceived free from sin. The first church was built next to the Chao Phraya River in what was then a small trading port which later was to become the city of Bangkok. Later during the reign of King Rama I in 1785 the church was rebuilt, then again on two other occasions in 1832 and lastly in 1847 by an influential French missionary Monsignor Pallegoix. The Neo-Romanesque building from 1847 remains today. The Church is also known as Chiesa dell’ Immacolata Concezione in Italian, and Wat Khamen in Thai.

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Immaculate Conception Church

Refugees

The Immaculate Conception Church has a long association with different nationalities, especially refugees fleeing persecution in their home countries. The Portuguese population in the area around the church were joined by Cambodian refugees who had fled civil war in Cambodia. Together with the Portuguese, they rebuilt the church in 1785 and it was renamed Bot Ban Khamen or Cambodian Village Church. The Vietnamese were another group who moved into the area and became the dominant population in the 18th and early 19th centuries during the reigns of King Rama I & II. When the Church was rebuilt in 1834 it was renamed Bot Ban Yuan or Vietnamese village church. Today, the local community is still mostly populated by Christian people of Vietnamese ancestry. Many of the homes in the area display catholic symbols and the local residents contribute to the upkeep of the church.

The Church

Enshrined inside the church are several revered Roman Catholic statues. The most important is Our Lady of Mercy that was brought from Cambodia in the early 1780s. There is also the statues of Maria from Portugal, and Saint Anthony of Lisbon. A newer addition is a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus which was a gift from a Portuguese prince in 2017. The statue is housed in a Thai Buddhist style pulpit and is just inside the main door.

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Inside the Church

The Rockery

At the front of the church is a grotto-like rockery with a statue of the Virgin Mary against a blue cloudy sky. The eye-catching decoration is completed with angels, doves and palm trees.

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The Rockery

The Little Church

Just behind the church is a restored old building that may have been one of the original churches. It?s called Little Church or Wat Noi in Thai.

The Cemetery

A short walk from the church is the cemetery. In the center is a crucifixion statue of Jesus on the cross. If you walk around looking at the gravestones you will find many in Portuguese dating back as far as the 18th century.

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The Cemetery

Services

Mass is held on Sundays in Thai language only at 06.00, 08.30 & 17.00. On Saturdays at 17.30. On weekdays at 19.00. The Church interior is closed at other times.

Near Immaculate Conception Church

Saint Francis Xavier Church is just around the corner. Next to Francis Xavier is the Vietnamese Market (Ban Yuan) on Samsen Soi 13. You can buy tasty Vietnamese snacks here. The best time to visit is on Sundays when many people come to visit the twin churches. There are two interesting Buddhist temples in the vicinity that are worth a visit. They are Wat Thewarat Kunchorn Worawihan?and Wat Ratchathiwat Ratchaworawihan. The daily Thewet Flower Market is also nearby.?

Where is it?

Location:?Samsen Road, Soi 9, Dusit.

District:?Dusit

Opening Hours: The exterior of the Church is open 24 hours.

How to get to Immaculate Conception Church

Boat: Chao Phraya Express Boat to Thewet Pier. Turn left onto Samsen Road and left again into Samsen Soi 9.

Bus: 3, 9, 16, 32, 33, 49, 51, 65, 110, 505, 516 ? Bus: 65 (red) from Sanam Luang, Bus 16 (yellow) from Surawongsee Road & Siam Square, Bus 50 (yellow) from Lumphini Park & MBK, Bus 505 (blue) from Lumphini Park & Central World.

Map

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