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Our Heritage

Vintage cars parked along the entrance on St Teresa’s feast day 4 Oct 1936.

The History of the Church of Saint Teresa

In the mid-1920s, the need was felt for a new church to be built near the port, in south-western Singapore. The area had a growing population, and though rural, there was a number of Hokkien-speaking Catholics.


The prime mover of the church-building project was Reverend Monsignor Emile J. Mariette, the parish priest of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul on Queen Street. Father Mariette died from an accident during the building of the church, and Father Stephen Lee then saw the project to completion. The latter had the church blessed on 7 April 1929.


The patron saint of the church is Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

In April 1935, Father Lee took up residence at the church and the Catholic population continued growing as new housing developments took place in the city district. Father Lee also founded and built the Saint Teresa's Sino-English School and supported the construction of the Monastery of Christ the King on Bukit Teresa. This was to house the contemplative Carmelite nuns, who arrived in Singapore from Bangkok, Thailand, in 1938. Today, more than 15 nuns are there leading a life of prayer and poverty.


The Church of Saint Teresa is the only building in Singapore featuring the Romano-Byzantine style. This is defined by the use of grand domes, cupolas, and arches. If you find the architecture familiar, it is because Reverend Father Jean M. Ouillon, the Procurator of the MEP (Société des Missions Etrangeres de Paris) in Singapore, was inspired by the architecture of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, Paris, France. Emile Brizay, who designed the Former Ford Factory, was the one who prepared the final architectural plans.

Fr Stephen with Governor Sir Hugh Clifford during the opening of St Teresa's Church

The Church of Saint Teresa is a living testimony to the contributions of Catholic missionaries and the growth of the Catholic community in the city district.


The Singapore wing of the Apostleship of the Sea, an international Catholic association that serves the spiritual needs of seafarers, was launched in 1958 and continues to be based there as well.

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