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Singapore’s Good Shepherd Cathedral holds French saint’s relics

Archdiocese of Singapore Singapore’s Good Shepherd Cathedral holds French saint’s relics

The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism to the shores of the city-state two centuries ago.

Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and the mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.

Good Shepherd Cathedral invokes the memories of Father Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert (1796 –1839), a missionary from the Paris Foreign Mission Society (MEP) whose arrival in Singapore in 1821, marked the beginning of the Catholic Church in the country.

The name of the cathedral has been derived from a letter written by Father Imbert who became a martyr in Korea in 1839 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

“In desperate circumstances, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep,” the saint wrote.

The saint’s relics are preserved in a baptistery of the cathedral.

Interior - Good Shepherd Cathedral

Catholics in Singapore paid glowing tributes to the saint when they celebrated the 200th anniversary of Catholicism in 2021.

When Saint Imbert arrived, Singapore had only a dozen Christians. Today, Christians make up about 18.9 percent of the estimated 5.7 million citizens of Singapore.

Architect Denis Lesley McSwiney designed the cathedral in the Restrained Renaissance Revival style. It took three years to complete the construction.

The Cathedral is reminiscent of the two well-known Anglican churches – St. Paul's, Covent Garden, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in London. It stands at the heart of the downtown bounded by Victoria Street, Bras Basah Road, and Queen Street in Singapore.

The heavy constructions near the Cathedral weakened its foundations. Singapore Archdiocese undertook a major structural restoration in 2013 and it completed in 2016.

Built in the form of a Latin Cross, at the central entrance the statues of St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph, and famous Pieta, welcome devotees and visitors.

With its cross-surmounted steeple, entrances with ornamented pediments, nave without aisles, gallery, and transepts, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is indeed a feast for the eyes.

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