Vietnam: Historic Catholic church gutted by fire

One of the oldest churches in Vietnam was devastated by fire on Sunday. The blaze at Mary Mother of God Catholic church in Bui Chu Diocese began in the early hours of 6 August. The wooden interior and roof of the Trung Lao Church, were destroyed, leaving only the walls intact. Nobody was injured.

Dominican Sister Doan Thi Chuyen told UCAN news that local Catholics discovered the fire, which started in the sanctuary, at about 11pm on 5 August.

The fire quickly swept through the whole building. Sister Chuyen said four fire engines from the district only came to the scene after the church had been burning for several hours. The nun said local people were very sad about the loss.

The 800-square-meter church, completed in the late 1890s, has Gothic, Spanish and Vietnamese architectural influences. Its walls and wooden roof were carved with floral patterns.

Father Joseph Nguyen Van Toanh, head of Bui Chu Diocese’s Communications Committee, said the old church was precious. He said an electrical short circuit was a possible cause of the blaze. Local Catholics needed to console one another at a difficult time, he added.

Sister Chuyen said the diocese is seen as the cradle of Catholicism in northern Vietnam. Most old churches have interiors, including altars, made of wood, so they are highly flammable. She warned that other churches would be vulnerable if they did not have adequate firefighting equipment and fire prevention measures.


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