Unlike Lynne, I am not a believer, but I am interested in religion and I do like churches. I like the architecture, I like the history they contain and the sense of community they embody. Building a church is somebody’s attempt at the sublime, sometimes for the greater glory of god, sometimes for the greater glory of themselves. Here I am appreciating their efforts not judging their motivation.
1) The Church of Giang Ta Chai, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam
The French ruled Indo-China for over a hundred years before independence in 1954 so it is unsurprising that there are many Vietnamese Christians – more specifically Catholics. Most Christians live in the urban centres; there are few churches in the countryside and even fewer in the ethnic minority villages of the northern highlands.
|The Church of Giang Ta Chi|
Lao Cai Province, Vietnam
However, whilst trekking through the Muong Hao Valley we passed this church in Giang Ta Chai, a village of the Hmong ethnic group. Twenty families here are Christians and although I can hardly describe this church as ‘somebody’s attempt at the sublime,’ it has a rustic charm. The photograph was taken in late March this year, but the banner translates as The Church of Giang Ta Chai, Happy Christmas.
2) Igreja Matriz, Estômbar, Algarve, Portugal
Sitting on a low hill between the main N125 and the road to the ‘Slide and Splash’ water park, Estômbar has somehow remained aloof from the development that has gone all around. Although it is now largely a dormitory village for the nearby city of Portimão, the tides of tourism have washed round the village not over it.
And much closer to home……
3) St Bartholomew’s, Tong, Shropshire
Built over an earlier Norman church in 1406 and remodelled in 1510, St Bartholomew’s is not an architectural masterpiece, though the octagonal tower is unusual. Much more interesting is the story attached to the church.