Apostolic delegate, Bishop Giovanni Moretti (in black suit), Archbishop Gregory Yong of Singapore (third from left) and Rt Rev Arquiminio Rodrigues da Costa, Bishop of Macau, (fourth from right) pose with priests who took part in the discussion, in 1977, that the church would come under the local archdiocese.Apostolic delegate, Bishop Giovanni Moretti (in black suit), Archbishop Gregory Yong of Singapore (third from left) and Rt Rev Arquiminio Rodrigues da Costa, Bishop of Macau, (fourth from right) pose with priests who took part in the discussion, in 1977, that the church would come under the local archdiocese.

•    In 1825, Fr Francisco da Silva Pinto e Maia of the Congregation of the Mission came from Macau and founded the Portuguese Mission in Singapore.

He requested and obtained ecclesiastical jurisdiction from the Archbishop of Goa over the Catholics in Singapore.

That year, he obtained 12 plots of land between Victoria and Queen Streets. He bought six plots and the other six were granted gratis to the Mission.

•    In 1848, Fr Maia became very ill and started a fund for building a church. He bequeathed the 12 plots of land to the Portuguese Mission.

•    On Dec 14, 1851, the first foundation stone of St Joseph’s Church was laid by the vicar, Fr Vincente de Santa Catarina, who succeeded Fr Maia when he passed away on Feb 17, 1850.The first St Joseph’s Church, built in 1853.The first St Joseph’s Church, built in 1853.

•    In 1853, St Joseph’s Church was officially blessed and opened.

•    In 1886, a concordat signed between Pope Leo XIII and King Dom Louis of Portugal stated that jurisdiction over the Portuguese Mission in Singapore and Malacca was transferred from the Archbishop of Goa to the Bishop of Macau.

•    In 1906, St Joseph’s Church was demolished and work started on building a new church.

•    On June 30, 1912, the present St Joseph’s Church was completed and blessed by the Bishop of Macau, Dom Joao Paulino de Azevedo e Castro.

•    On July 26, 1977, an agreement was made between the Archbishop of Singapore Gregory Yong and the Rt Rev Arquiminio Rodrigues da Costa, Bishop of Macau, that the church would come under the ordinary jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Singapore.

•    The Holy See ratified all points of agreement and on July 1, 1981, the church’s jurisdiction was transferred to the Archdiocese of Singapore. It ceased being a Portuguese parish and became a church of devotion.

Fr Francisco Bata, who served in the church from 1962-1981, officially retired as the last parish priest.

•    On Dec 31, 1999, Fr Benito de Souza concluded his term as rector, closing the chapter of St Joseph’s Church 174-year association with the Portuguese Mission in Singapore.

The present St Joseph’s Church, built in 1912.The present St Joseph’s Church, built in 1912.•    On Jan 14, 2005, St Joseph’s Church was gazetted as a national monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board.

Sources: St Joseph’s Church website and ‘Going Forth

Relate Links: Former Portuguese-mission church marks 100 years

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