Christmas is just around the corner. And in the 32nd countries in terms of the largest number of Catholic believers in the world, the festive atmosphere can be felt almost everywhere. On this special occasion, let’s travel back in the history flow to see how Christianity has developed in Vietnam.
How Was Christianity Introduced Into Vietnam?
The Very First Steps Of Christianity On Vietnam Territories
Like other religions, Christianity sees indoctrination as a sacred and permanent mission. From the very early days with the urge to go around the earth and preach the gospel to everyone, Christians from a local religion quickly became the religion of the Roman Empire, and from the religion of the Roman Empire to the religion of Europe. Progress in geographical discoveries opened up great prospects for expanding the Kingdom of God to foreign lands including Vietnam.
Southeast Asia was the destination of European Christians such as the Portuguese, the French, and the Spanish in the 16th century. During the dawn of Christianity in Vietnam, the most notable visitor was a Jesuit, Alexandre de Rhodes. He was successful in making a good impression with Trinh Lords in a few meetings. Trinh Lords at that time was reigning Northern Vietnam. As a result, Alexandre de Rhodes was able to carry out long-term missions in three major cities, Hanoi, Danang, and Hoi An. All of those regions were packed with locals and foreigners, which made it easier for him to spread Christianity.
Also, to better his understanding of this exotic nation, Alexandre de Rhodes invented a new writing system to romanize the language. And his invention actually became what is now called the Vietnamese language. The contribution of Alexandre de Rhodes still has a profound influence on the country up till now.
Vietnam Christianity During The Days Of Expulsion
Despite the very good terms with Alexandre de Rhodes at the beginning, Tring Lords, later on, considered Christianity opposing to their original and ultimate doctrine. Alexandre’s work was interrupted, his new script was less popular.
Vietnam, then, went through a period of enthroning and dethroning among different forces, which once again diminished the development of Christianity. When the Nguyen dynasty finally stabilized the political situation, the feudal monarchs continued the religious prohibition. During the reign of the three kings of the Nguyen dynasty Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Tu Duc (1820-, there had been 14 decrees banning Christianity in total. Especially in the time before the French colonialists set fire to invade Vietnam, religious prohibition became even more fierce).
Oppression Among Christianity Groups And The French Colonization
Not only being expelled by the ruling party, but there were also a lot of conflicts within the Christianity Groups. Christianity has been long known to be divided into several major branches. But the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Church were always in 2 sides of a magnet. This situation led to the destruction of churches and the decrease of Christians throughout Vietnam.
The French had taken advantage of the unrest among religions to invade Vietnam in 1858. After the French invasion, Christianity regains its popularity and unification. The French authority gave great power to the churches, endowing them with real estates and prosperities. Schools, lessons and religious missions were conducted all over the country opened throughout the country. Christians turned to a group of elite and high-class people.
Independence Movement And The Development of Christianity In The South
The 20th century marked a strong tendency for liberation and reunification all over the world. Vietnam was not excluded from that trend. Communist parties actively engaged the locals in their activities. They were also against the idea of Christianity as it was introduced by a foreigner. Also, it used to be a symbol of upper people, opposite to the workers at a lower level, the main force of the communist parties
When the communist government was formed in Northern Vietnam in around 1945, the majority of vicars and Christian headed to the South for refuge. Those who remained in the North were strictly under control of the new authority.
After Vietnam regained its freedom, the people were more aware of freedom in religion. Nowadays, Christianity is among the top 3 largest official religious groups in Vietnam. According to the 2009 statistics, there are approximately 5 million Catholics with about 6,000 churches in many parts of the country.
In Vietnam, since the 19th century, there have also been churches built with completely unique architecture featuring the local style.
>> Read More: Vietnam most famous Churches
If you are planning to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam, you should definitely check it out together with many other stunning religious monuments. Don’t forget to contact our local experts for more excellent ideas on a spiritual journey in Vietnam!
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