Posted by: rbbadger | February 21, 2010

French Missionaries and Church Construction

The Catholic Church in Korea began, not with foreign missionaries setting up shop, but with Korean noblemen who encountered Catholicism in China.  They asked for missionaries to come.  The first missionaries were French, though one of the earliest priests, Father Zhou Wenmo was from China.  However, due to the persecutions, not much in the way of church construction could take place.  Later on, after an edict of toleration from the Emperor Gojong, church building began in earnest.

Some of these French missionaries were architects.  Father Eugène Coste, M.E.P. designed Myeong-dong Cathedral, though he died before he could see it to completion.  His assistant, Father Victor Louis Poisnel, M.E.P. who was no mean architect himself, oversaw the completion.  Father Poisnel went on to design one of Korean Catholicism’s most beautiful cathedrals, the Jeondong Cathedral in Jeonju.

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