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St. Joseph Church

Name of a more than 300 year old Roman Catholic church in Ayutthaya, the very first Catholic establishment ever in the Kingdom of Siam. The initial predecessor of the current building, a wooden edifice, was built in 1673 AD by French missionaries, one bishop and two priests, who had arrived in Ayutthaya in August 1662 and were in January 1664 joined by another bishop, three more priests and a lay assistant of the same mission, i.e. the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. The church was built on a plot of land on the southern bank of the Chao Phraya River granted by King Narai, who was sympathetic to the mission's cause and offered his assistance. Prior to this, the Siamese King in May 1665 had already granted the French bishops a large plot of land for the establishment of a seminary, which was requested during a synod that the group had organized in the 1664 and which is today known as the Synod of Ayutthaya. Between 1685 and 1695, the original wooden church was rebuilt in brick and in European style. During the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, the church was plundered and houses near the church were burned down. However, the fire spread to the church and the adjacent seminary, which were both reduced to ashes. For a century, it had been the center of the Vicariate Apostolic of Siam, since its official nomination in 1666. In 1831, a French priest began restoration of the church, which was completed in 1847 and during the reign of King Rama V more additions in the Romanesque style were made. Many Christians and the missionaries serving them, are buried at the local churchyard. In Thai, known as Wat Nak Boon Yosef (วัดนักบุญยอแซฟ). See also POSTAGE STAMP and MAP.