SINGAPORE - The once dilapidated 146-year-old Saints Peter and Paul church on Queen Street has been restored into a gleaming national monument to behold.
The stunning $8-million, year-long restoration involved fixing the Neo-Gothic structure's corroded ceiling and termite infested roof structure, restoring its 1900s teak pews and stained glass windows with the aid of Italian craftsmen, and reinstating a high altar shipped in from a church in America.
1) The interior of the church now looks much brighter and more inviting compared to its previous grey, deteriorated state.
Parish priest Father John Chua consulted old photographs of the structure to return it to its former glory.
2) To light up the church, lanterns featuring the crossed swords motif of Saint Paul and cross keys motif of Saint Peter, were installed.
3) Parish priest John Chua said a major challenge was fixing the roof according to its original style. Since no welding was allowed, about 1,000 holes were drilled into its wooden roof structure to secure it with bolts and nuts, as per the original design of the church.
4) Its ceiling has also been repaired.
5) The old door versus the new one.
6) A new cast iron spiral staircase inside the church.
7) Arches at the west end of the church building.
8) An air-conditioning system was incorporated discreetly into the church.
The restoration also meant highlighting intricate design elements of the church.
1) Italian craftsmen were brought in to repair the dirty and chipped stained glass windows of the church. The stained glass windows that were restored comprised three rosette windows and five lance-shaped panels .
2) Plasterwork in the form of a lotus on the exterior of the building, reflecting the church's Chinese roots.
3) A wooden motif featuring the 12 apostles in the centre and two doves
4) The crossed papal keys under a triregnum, the symbol of the papacy, on one of the bells.
5) Detail of the pillar capitals inside the church.
6) An ornate cross on one of the church's bells.
7) As a nod to its Chinese roots, the word "zhu" or Lord, is perched at the entrance of the church.
8) French tiles imported from Vietnam, a former French colony, feature on the floor of the nave.
Early Chinese and Indian Catholics started attending mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd located at Queen Street. The Cathedral is the oldest Catholic church in Singapore. As these communities grew, a need for language-specific masses grew. This led to the establishment of Saints Peter and Paul, a sister parish of the Cathedral dedicated to the Chinese community, and the second oldest Catholic church here.
Work on the church began in 1869 and was completed the following year. The church was expanded several times throughout its history.
Pictured in this 1930 photo, with the church in the foreground, are some of Saints Peter and Paul's benefactors. A plaque listing some of the original contributors to the church, still stands today.
2) The original high altar which was demolished in the 1970s, a few years after the Second Vatican Council. A similar looking one from the United States was brought in as part of the latest restoration effort.
3) Prior to the recent upgrade, services were held under a tent at the church's open-air carpark.
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