Redemptorist Church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), Hue, Vietnam

Redemptorist Church, Hue, Vietnam
Redemptorist Church, Hue, Vietnam

Hue's biggest church utilizes aspects of Buddhist architecture

Hue, Vietnam. Long the seat of the final Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnamese Emperors, Hue was once the most important city in all of Vietnam. Today, it's a small town, having been ravaged by centuries of war for independence from France. Also, as the border between North and South Vietnam, Hue was the sight of some of the heaviest fighting and deadliest battles of the Vietnam War.

When visiting Hue today, you can tour around the old Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City, its stone walls still pockmarked from bullets. Hue is a quiet, peaceful place, but its past is soaked in blood and tragedy. Locals like to say that Hue is the most haunted city in all of Vietnam.

gardens around Redemptorist Church, Hue
the gardens surrounding the church

In the midst of all of this, Hue has sprung back as a beautiful city of peace, home to a large number of beautiful and deeply spiritual places. For Vietnamese Catholics, Hue is the seat of the Archdiocese of Hue, which encompass all of central Vietnam.

church in hue with stained glass windows
beautiful windows at the church in Hue

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, known as Redemptorist Church, is not the cathedral of Hue, but it is a beautiful and impressive building. The most interesting feature of the church is how the architectural style is a true blend of east and west. Redemptorist church looks unlike any church I've ever seen. Instead of a steeple, the roof is topped with a structure reminiscent of a Buddhist pagoda. If it weren't a Catholic Church, this building could well be mistaken for a large Buddhist temple.

the altar of Redemptorist Church in Hue, Vietnam with stained glass
the altar of Redemptorist Church in Hue

On a grey and humid day in Hue, I wandered through the church's lush green gardens and entered the huge church building. The inside was cool and airy, and due to the tall windows on every wall, surprisingly bright. The church was built in 1942, and looks more modern than many of Vietnam's churches. This is because it was heavily damaged during the Tet Offensive in 1968, and had to be rebuilt in the decades following the war.

the interior of the church is spacious and bright

After trudging through the streets of Hue all morning, my legs were tired. I was happy for the chance to sit for a moment in the quiet sanctuary. Afterwards, I went to explore the gardens and grounds surrounding Redemptorist Church. Behind the church is an old French monastery, as well as a small Marian Grotto. These grottoes, though not uncommon in Western Christianity, are almost ubiquitous at Vietnamese Catholic churches. Before the statue of the Virgin Mary, an incense brazier holds candles and joss sticks, and fragrant smoke slowly spirals upwards to Heaven.

Marian Grotto, Hue
Marian Grotto, Hue

Travel tip: when in Hue, don't miss the chance to try "salt coffee". This delicious drink can be found in cafes all over the city, and is a famous taste of Hue. Hue is also known for its food, so take every opportunity you can to eat at local restaurants and taste all of the amazing delicacies that the city has to offer.

salt coffee hue
salt coffee, Hue


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