Saint Joseph's Church, Bukit Timah

Saint Joseph's Church (Chinese: 聖若瑟堂) is a Catholic church in Singapore. It is located at Upper Bukit Timah Road along the boundary of the Bukit Panjang and Bukit Batok planning areas, within the Northern District of Singapore.[1] Saint Joseph's is the second oldest church in Singapore, after the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. Saint Joseph's is also the last remaining Catholic church to feature a cemetery.[2]

Saint Joseph's Church
Saint Joseph's Church, Bukit Timah
SJC Bukit Timah
Picture of Saint Joseph's Church, Bukit Timah
1°22′05″N 103°46′01″E / 1.3679361°N 103.7669635°E / 1.3679361; 103.7669635
Location620 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 678116
Former name(s)Kranji Chapel
Founder(s)Fr Anatole Mauduit
Architectural typeGothic and Romanesque design
Completed1853 (current building)
DistrictNorth District



Kranji Chapel (1845 – 1900)


In December 1845, Father Anatole Mauduit made his way to Singapore in search of Chinese Christians who were labouring away in plantations.[3]

In 1846, he founded a Mission Station near the Kranji River, which was known back then as the Kranji Chapel,[1] where he erected a small attap chapel.[3]

By 1853, his congregation had grown so large that he had to build a new chapel – Saint Joseph's Church, at the present site.

Many would make their way to the parish every Saint Joseph's Feast Day to celebrate,[4][5] this devotion to Saint Joseph's soon started after the arrival of the statue of the saint, Saint Joseph, in 1861.[6]

Relocation (1901 – 1950)


Christians of Saint Joseph's faced multiple problems such as, secret societies, tigers,[7] plantation failures, and a dwindling congregation.[3]

In the 1910s, the parish priests decided to plant a rubber plantation around the church and this helped to bring Christians back to the district.

By the 1930s, Saint Joseph's Church had become a pilgrimage destination for Christians of Malaya (now known as Malaysia) and Singapore. After the war, many families settled in the districts around the church, this was also the Baby Boom generation.[1]

Rebuilding (1951 – 2000)


When Father Joachim Teng became the padre of Saint Joseph's in the 1950s, he tackled the overpopulation at the parish by beginning the process of rebuilding the church with no resources.[3][8]

One way that Father Teng raised the money needed to rebuild the church, was by organising a food and fun fair at the parish every Feast Day, since then, it has become a church tradition.[3][4][5][8] Fr Teng also reared cattle within the church's compound to produce milk which he then sold for income.[3][8][1]

Picture of the Mother Mary statue at the Rosary Garden.

Father Teng finally completed the new Saint Joseph's Church in the early 1960s.

Saint Joseph's was blessed on 30 August 1964 by Archbishop Michel Olçomendy.[9]

In 1991, the parish installed life-sized Stations of the Cross around the church's boundary – these edifices have since become an important part of the parish's devotional traditions.[1][3][10]

In 1995, the parish’s columbarium was opened and blessed by Archbishop Gregory Yong,[3] this was followed by the building of a new parish hall in 1997.

During the Season of Lent, Catholics from all over Singapore would make a pilgrimage to the church to journey along these Stations.[10]

The parish would also organize Feast Day Processions that follow the Way of the Cross.[4][5]

Saint Joseph's Church, Bukit Timah (2001 – present)


On 1 May 2012, Archbishop Nicholas Chia consecrated the church.

In the last few years, the parish has added a few more pilgrimage locations within the church compound.

Father Anatole Mauduit's headstone, located in the Rosary Garden.

The parish's Rosary Garden is another life-sized pilgrimage and devotion trail that was blessed on 25 March 2017 by then-Archbishop William Goh.[11] Father Mauduit's headstone is also located in the garden.[3][2]



Saint Joseph's Church was rebuilt by Father Joachim Teng in the 1950s to accommodate the larger congregation size[3] and the new design also showcases the church's Chinese heritage.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e "Saint Joseph's Church (Bukit Timah)". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b "St Joseph's Church cemetery – the last Catholic resting place of our early missionaries". Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "St Joseph's Church (Bukit Timah)". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "The great St Joseph's Church Bukit Timah celebration". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  5. ^ a b c "Church of St. Joseph (Bukit Timah) celebrates 160th feast day". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  6. ^ "8000 pay respects to patron saint". 3 May 1971. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  7. ^ "TIGER, TIGER, TIGERS!". The Straits Times. 28 August 2016. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "The priest who started a farm and rebuilt the church". The Straits Times. 28 August 2016. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  9. ^ "ARCHBISHOP WILL BLESS NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH". 28 August 1964. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Catholics retrace Christ's footsteps". The Straits Times. 20 April 2019. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  11. ^ "St Joseph's Rosary Garden blessed". Retrieved 28 June 2023.

Further reading

  • Liew, Clement (1995). Mission on a Hill, Far, Far Away: Church, Community, Society. Singapore: St. Joseph Church. ISBN 9789810995348.
  • Mah, Sara (2021). From Outpost To Church (1821 - 2021): Singapore's Catholic Journey. Singapore: The Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore. ISBN 9789811823855.