Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel

Last update 11:40 | 03/06/2017

When Ninh Binh is called to mind, people often think of the Phat Diem stone cathedral, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, the Trang An tourism site and Bai Dinh Pagoda, but few are those who know that hidden deep in the secluded countryside beneath the mountains’ feet are churches representative of a religious tradition with exceedingly unique architecture. 

Downstream from Nho Quan, on the road that leads to Cuc Phuong National Forest, is a unique architectural structure that was built entirely by the talented hands and ardent love of its priests. That is Chau Son Abbey in Phu Son, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh, near Hanoi.

According to the abbey’s records, this austere religious cathedral was built in 1939 and completed in 1945 without any modern machinery or means, including the cement pillars.

The chief architect of the abbey was Father Placido Truong Minh Trach, a young clergyman who never studied at any school for either architecture or construction.

Chau Son Abbey was his masterpiece, into which which he poured all his heart and soul in order to create.

Without models or blueprints, each feature and every brick gradually took shape through his stupendous intellect and imagination.

Striking and imposing, firm yet charming, the structure was designed in the Gothic architectural style, mainly with the material of unplastered red bricks to engender in it a distinct beauty, absolute simplicity, trueness to life and uttermost warmth.

For over six decades, it continued to preside, prominently enshrouded in a forest of massive ancient trees.

The efforts and refined talents of several dozen priests and local artists who baked the bricks and did the construction themselves still remain steadfast before the tribulations of time.

The unbaked brick walls that mainly compose the structure are 0.6m thick with pillars 1.2m thick in some places, thus creating sturdiness as well as warmth in winter and coolness in summer.

Extending throughout the structure’s 64m length are pillars that were skillfully crafted to form small towers and are considered the highlight of the structure.

The walls are harmoniously adorned with windows that split into upper and lower levels. Inside are wood-and-glass windows, while outside are gouged sculptures that portray images of saints and Jesus Christ bearing the cross and praying.

Inside the cathedral, the natural lighting is just enough to slip into two broad corridors containing several large windows.

The sun’s rays glisten in contrast to the rows of round pillars, decorative patterns, and reliefs.

The 21m high white dome is the pinnacle of the art throughout the cathedral.

It gives prominence to the masterful color reliefs that symbolize the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints.

When art is associated with religious faith, it has a boundless power of expression and ability to resonate.

It leads us to the profound reality of mankind and the world. Looking at the church imbued with the colour of red brick amidst a region of clouds and rivers, mountains and hills, lush trees, and the simple, meek lives of austere clergymen, I realized the wisdom imbedded in its blithe, idyllic countenance; I sensed the peace and contentment of human life in this world. In a space that was tranquil, yet not vacuous, and one that contrasted with the verdant lushness about it, the abbey stands expansively before slight, simple, and unaffected men, but is saturated with a verve for life and suffused with human sentiment.

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Chau Son abbey is a rare jewel, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Architect Le Huu Truc 

VN Heritage

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This entry was posted in Du lịch - Tourism, Ninh Bình and tagged , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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