Posted by: rbbadger | January 3, 2010

If it weren’t for the statue, I wouldn’t know it is a church.

Gwangju’s Cathedral, unlike those in the Diocese of Jeonju, the Diocese of Incheon, and the Archdioceses of Daegu and Seoul is not an old church.  Rather, it is something from the 1960s or 1970s.  I thought it might be something designed by famous Korean architect Kim Swoo Geun, but I’m not sure.  It looks a bit like the very modern Kyungdong Presbyterian Church in Seoul.  You can see photos of that church by clicking here.

Gwangju, like most Korean dioceses, was lead by various foreign bishops for a time.  Many of them, bearing French names difficult for the population to pronounce, adopted Korean names.  Archbishop Harold Henry, did, I believe, have a hand in building this church.  Upon retiring as Archbishop of Gwangju in the 1970s, he went on to found the Catholic Diocese of Jeju on the island of Jeju-do.   It is a sign, perhaps, of just how far the Church in Korea has come.  Fifty years ago, foreign clergy were very common.  Nowadays, they aren’t seen much at all.

While the exterior of the church may look stark and forbidding, the interior is very white.

If you look to the right, you can see the hymn board/scoreboard which disfigures many a Korean Catholic parish.  And yes, women cover their heads here.



  1. Do the women & girls wear dresses?

    • Sometimes they do. In fact, often they do. Koreans love to dress up. Suits are really common as well.

  2. I do not like the tabernacle moved to the side. It is a result of a theological view that tabernacle interrupts the centerness of alter.

    There is a popular book written by a Korean Benedictine, “The Fight between Altar and Tabernacle”.

    • Actually, I am a bit scandalized to see this. When I visited the Cathedral last, it was dead centre right behind the altar. This was in 2007. I got the photo of the Archdiocesan website.

  3. I wish I could write more about the book, “The Fight between Altar and Tabernacle”(제대와 감실의 싸움).

    And I correct “centerness” to “centeredness”.

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