Hanh Thong Tay Church (Official name: Saint Joseph Church) is located at 53/7 Quang Trung Street, Ward 11, Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City. The church was built from 1921 to 1924 under the sponsorship of the son of one of 4 the most famous great landlords in South Vietnam at that time. The Church is built according to Byzantine architecture style and imitated Basilica of St. Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. This is the unique architectural style in Saigon, as well as in Vietnam. Hanh Thong Tay church has contributed to creating Saigon “Pearl of the Far East”.
Hanh Thong Tay parish was established in 1961 by Bishop Puginier. At that time, this place was a suburban area quite far from the city, sparsely populated, close to the cemetery so it was very deserted, parishioners were mostly the poor. Therefore, through many decades the church was only built simply and narrowly. In 1921, the Priest Matheu Ho Tan Duc prayed to St. Joseph for help to have a worthy worshiping place.
Soon, Mr. Denis Le Phat An, the son of a great landlord in South Vietnam, came to visit the church and express his will to build a big church. So the work begins. On the parcel of land offered by Ho Chua, a high-level official in the region, Mr. Denis asked architect Baader (he was also a contractor to build the church) to develop a plan and set up a submission to the authorities and bishop at that time. It is known that after a period of construction, Mr. Denis canceled the old contract with Baader architect and cooperated with Lamorte contractor to continue the project until completed.
Hanh Thong Tay church was built in Byzantine architectural style, simulating the Basilica of St. Vitale in the city of Ravenna, Italy. While most churches in Vietnam are in the style of Gothic or Roman architecture.
The church has the length of 14m, a height of 16m, a dome of 20m, Bell of 30m (In 1952 it dropped to 19.5 meters for aviation security reason). Above the front door of Hanh Thong Tay church has a statue of Saint Denis – the patron saint of Denis Le Phat An. On the domed roof of a church is decorated a Byzantine-style mosaic depicting a scene of Jesus dying on the cross and some images of other saints like St. Joseph carrying Jesus and 11 demigoddesses.
Especially, the church also has two statue tombs of Mr. and Mrs. Le Phat An opposite each other built by two famous French architects. Both tombs are carved in marble and granite. The sculpture is extremely beautiful and lively in Renaissance style. The dresses and gestures of both Mr. and Mrs are of southern people. They are kneeling, praying and show mourning.