Cathedral of the Good Shepherd




The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd stands at the junction of Queen Street and Bras Basah Road. Built between 1843 and 1847, it is the oldest surviving Catholic church in Singapore and is today the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese and Archbishop. The Cathedral was gazetted as a national monument on 28 June 1973.

Raffles gave land at Bras Basah to the Catholic Church as early as 1822. However, it was only with the arrival of Father J. B. Boucho in 1832 that the first Catholic chapel was built there. The wood-and-attap construction was built at a cost of $700, with the money raised through public subscription. The old site at No. 3 Bras Basah Road was later converted into a school that became St Joseph's Institution (now the Singapore Art Museum).

In February 1843, a dynamic French priest, Father Jean-Marie Beurel, managed to convince the colonial government to provide the Catholic mission with a plot of land diagonally opposite, at the corner of Queen Street and Bras Basah Road. The plot became the location for the Church of the Good Shepherd. The foundation stone was laid on 18 June 1843 by John Conolly, a merchant resident in Singapore.

The architect Denis Lesley McSwiney apparently competed with John Turnbull Thomson for the design of this new church, with McSwiney's design chosen because his had been cheaper. It was built at a cost of just over $18,000, in Renaissance style with the traditional cruciform plan and Roman Doric pillars. Shortly after the completion of the church, Father Beurel blessed it on 6 June 1947.

In 1847, the distinguished water colourist, Charles Alexander Dyce, added a tower and spire that were modelled after the J. T. Thomson spire of St Andrew's Church nearby. Antwerp marble paving was added in 1860 and the nave extended in 1888. The Archbishop's Residence was designed by Father Charles Nain.

In 1888, with the growing Catholic population in Singapore, the church was raised to the status of a cathedral. On 14 February 1897, the Bishop of Malacca, the Reverend Rene Fee consecrated the church after all bills were settled. The relics of St. Laurent Imbert, the first priest to visit Singapore (later martyred in Korea), are preserved in the Cathedral.

Bonny Tan

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 274). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW)

Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: SING 726.095957 LEE)  

Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore (pp. 166-171). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)

Preservation of Monuments Order, 1973 (Republic of Singapore Government Gazette Subsidiary Legislation Supplement Notification No. S 228).(RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS)

The Free Press. (1847, June 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835-1869), p. 2. Retrieved on December 1, 2010, from NewspaperSG.

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 60). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Wijeysingha, E. (2006). Going forth: the Catholic Church in Singapore 1819-2004 (pp. 74-75, 85-92). Singapore: Nicholas Chia.
(Call no.: RSING 282.5957 WIJ)

Further readings
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. (2010). Retrieved November 4, 2010, from Preservation of Monuments Board website:

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd preservation guidelines. (1992). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 CAT)

Singapore. Preservation of Monuments Board. (1972-1973).  Report. Singapore :  Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 11.
(Call no.: RCLOS 722.4095957 PMBSR

Wan, M. H.  (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. (pp. 50-51). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN)

The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Religious buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings
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Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Educational Buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
Schools (Buildings)
Catholic church buildings--Singapore

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