Nga Sau Church (Official name: The Church of St. Jeanne d’Arc) is a Catholic church in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. This church was built by Priest John Baptist Huynh Tinh Huong in 1922 and completed in May 1928, named Saint Jeanne d’Arc, also the patron saint of the church. The church is built according to Roma architecture style combing with Gothic architecture style. It is one of the ancient and large churches in Ho Chi Minh City.
Before 1865, the Chinese Vietnamese parishioners were still sparse, without churches, so they often went to Mass at Cho Quan Church. In 1865, Father Philippe of the Paris Missionary Association coming to Cho Lon from China saw that the Chinese Catholics became more and more crowded, so they built a church at Phung Hung Street. The church was named Archangel Michael.
In 1919, Father Jean Baptiste Huynh Tinh Huong came to govern Michael Church. Because the church was degraded and badly damaged, he decided to choose a more spacious place to build a new church called Jeanne d’Arc. The plot of land he bought was in the cemetery of Chinese people, which the French called Plaine Des Tombeaux Saigon (Saigon field). Father Huong bought this land because it was cheap, at that time the parish did not have much money. Later when the graveyard was cleared, three streets Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ngo Gia Tu and Nguyen Chi Thanh intersected around the church like a six-pointed flower, so people often called “Nga Sau church”. The church started construction in 1922, inaugurated in May 1928.
In 1989, Father Anthony Huynh Thu Than took over the position governing the church, he was surprised to find that the church had no statue of the patron saint and was even more surprised when he discovered the statue of burned Saint Jeanne d’Arc in the storehouse. He decided to bring the statue up and put it in the Saint Palace.
In 2005, Father Philippe Tran Tan Binh in Tay Ninh visited the church and offered to give a statue of Saint Jeanne d’Arc. This new statue of Saint Jeanne d’Arc wore an armor, handle a flag, and a sword handle. Priests decided to place the new statue in the Saint’s Palace and put the old statue in the parish house.
Jeanne d’Arc (1412 – 1431) was a French heroine during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. She was canonized by Roman Catholicism. She was born into a peasant family in eastern France. She commanded the French army to win some important victories in the hundred-year War. She and the French army defeated the siege of Orléans City for 9 days. That victory paved the way for Charles VII to be crowned at Reims.
She was arrested by the British and was accused of being a witch by the bishops on the side of England and was cremated. At that time, she was only 19 years old. Her career only covers the last two years of her life, one year of fighting and one year of imprisonment. Twenty-four years later, the Pope inspected the case, declared that she was innocent. On May 16, 1920, she was officially canonized by Pope Benedict XV.
Jeanne d’Arc became an important figure in Western civilization. Since Napoleon time until modern time, French politicians of all political groups continue to evoke her image. Among the writers and composers wrote works talking about her like Shakespeare, Voltaire, Schiller, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Twain, and Shaw. Her image continues to be used in movies, media, music, dance and video games.
The Nga Sau church is in a large park with fresh green trees grass. In general, the church has a combination of roman architecture style and gothic architecture style. The church’s main bell tower has 4 cube floors and a pyramid-shaped top with a cross. Two sides of the main tower have two auxiliary towers, smaller and lower than the main tower. The columns on the first floor of the bell tower have serrated shaped patterns. The top of the doors, windows are semicircular or square. The tower looks majestic strong but still soft and gentle. Particularly above the main door arch, there is the statue of Saint Jeanne d’Arc – one of France’s most famous historical figures.
Behind the tower is the space for the parishioners. Looking from the outside, the side of the church has many square columns, one door and many large windows. The top of the door is a straight line and the tops of the windows have semicircular. Above the windows has an elaborately carved pattern line. The roofs of the part for the parishioners are covered with red tiles.
Inside the part for parishioners, there are 3 long spaces. In the middle, there are two rows of tall, square reinforced concrete columns. The tops connecting the columns have semicircle shape. The dome has a pointed bow shape showing clearly Gothic architecture style. The windows are installed with twinkle colored glass. At the back, in the center of the Saint’s Shrine, there is a statue of Jesus. The two sides have 2 statues of Mother Maria and St. Josep placed in 2 columns.