Chronology of the Catholic Church in Vietnam

Special historical events of the Catholic Church in Việt Nam [1]:

1. The 16th century

1533 A missionary, Ignatius, preached Catholicism in secret at Ninh Cường and Quần Anh villages, Nam Chân district (now Nam Định province, Bùi Chu diocese).

1550 Father Gaspar da Santa Cruz (OP) came from Malacca to Hà Tiên to evangelize.

1580 - 1586  Father Louis da Fonseca and father Gregoire de la Motte (OP) preached in Quảng Nam.

1583 Fathers Bartolomew Ruiz, Pedro Ortis, Francis de Montilla and fours friars (OFM) came from Phillipines to evangelize in the North of Việt Nam.

1591 Father Pedro Ordoñez de Cevallos baptized Princess Mai Hoa (Mary Flora), who was old sister of King Lê Thế Tông.

2. The 17th century

1615 (18 January) Father Francois Buzomiand, Jesuit priest, arrived in Đà Nẵng to evangelize in Đàng Trong (Cochinchine).

1624 (December) Jesuit Father Alexandre de Rhodes (1593 - 1660) and his five confreres arrived in Đà Nẵng.

1625 (December) Lord Sãi Vương Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên, promulgated a decree banning Catholicism in Đàng Trong.

1628 (June 18) In Đàng Ngoài (Tonkin), Lord Trịnh Tráng issued a ban, which did not allow Vietnamses to contact European missionaries

1630  (April) Father Alexandre de Rhodes and Jesuit missionaries were expelled from Đàng Ngoài. There was Francis, a layman, to be beheaded as punishment for burying the dead. He was the first faith witness in Đàng Ngoài.

1644 (July 26) - The local Church's first faith witness in Đàng Trong: Catechist Andrew Phú Yên was beheaded.

1651 Father Alexandre de Rhodes published three books in Rome:
          -    February 5, 1651: Vietnamese - Portugal - Latin Dictionary (Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum)
          -    February 5, 1651: Vietnamese Grammar (Linguae Annamiticae seu Tuchinensis brevisdeclaratio)
          -    October 2, 1651: The Catechism in Eight Days (Catechismus in Octo Dives).

1659 (September 9) Pope Alexandre VII established two Apostolic Vicariates of Đàng Ngoài headed by Bishop Francois Pallu and Đàng Trong headed by Bishop Lambert de la Motte.
         (November 11)  Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP) was formed.

1663 (November 12) The last Jesuit missionaries were expelled from Đàng Ngoài.

1665 (February) All Jesuit missionaries were expelled from Đàng Trong.

1668 Four first Vietnamese priests were ordained after finishing their study in Ayuthaya Seminary (Thailand):
         -    March: Father Joseph Trang and father Luke Bền belonged to Đàng Trong.
         -    June: Father Benedict Hiền and father John Huệ belonged to Đàng Ngoài.

1669 (July) On behalf of Bishop François Pallu who went to Rome, bishop Lambert de la Motte went to Thăng Long to make pastoral visit by disguising himself as a merchant.   

1670 (February) - Đàng Ngoài synod was held.
         (February 19) - The Lovers of the Holy Cross Congregation was founded.

1672 (January 19) - Đàng Trong synod was held in Hội An.

1679 Apostolic Vicariates of Tây Đàng Ngoài (West Tonkin) and Đông Đàng Ngoài (East Tonkin) were carved from Đàng Ngoài.

3. The 18th century

1702 Bishop Lezzoli was consecrated at Kẻ Sở. He was a first Dominic bishop in Việt Nam to gorven Đông Đàng Ngoài diocese.

1771 Bishop Pigneau de Béhaine (Bá Đa Lộc) governed Đàng Trong as Apostolic Vicariate.

4. The 19th century

1802 Nguyễn Ánh unified the country and was crowned King Gia Long.

1825 King Minh Mạng (1820 - 1840) promulgated a ban on Catholicism.

1844 Apostolic Vicariates of Đông Đàng Trong (East Cochinchine) and Tây Đàng Trong (West Cochinchine) were carved out of Đàng Trong

1846 Apostolic Vicariate of Nam Đàng Ngoài carved from Tây Đàng Ngoài.

1858 French - Spanish coalition forces attacked Đà Nẵng.

1859 (February 17) - French-Spanish coalition forces attacked Sài Gòn.

1860 Saint Paul de Chartres sisters landed in Sài Gòn.

1861 (May) - Carmelites from Lisieux reached Sài Gòn.
         (July) - King Tự Đức conducted campaigns against Catholics by separating them from people.

1862 (June 5) - The Treaty of Sài Gòn (Hòa Ước Nhâm Tuất) signed by representatives of the French Empire and Emperor Tự Đức, recognizing religious freedom but, in reality, Catholicism was still banned.

1874 (March 15) - The second Treaty of Sài Gòn (Hòa ước Giáp Tuất) signed. France claimed sovereignty over six southern provinces.

1884 (June 6) - The Protectorate Treaty (Hòa ước Giáp Thân) signed, recognizing and accepting the protectorate of France.

1895 (April 15) - Hưng Hóa Apostolic Vicariate established.

5. The 20th century

1902 Phát Diệm Apostolic Vicariate established.

1925 (May 20) - Apostolic Delegation for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Việt Nam based in Huế. Later it was moved to Hà Nội in 1951 and moved back to Sài Gòn in 1959.

1932 (January, 18) - Kontum Apostolic Vicariate was created.
         (May 7) - Thanh Hóa Apostolic Vicariate was created.

1933 (June 11) - First Vietnamese Bishop John the Baptist Nguyễn Bá Tòng was ordained.

1934 First Indochinese Council held in Hà Nội.

1936 (March 9) - Thái Bình Diocese was established.

1938 (January 8) - Vĩnh Long Diocese was established and governed by Bishop Peter Ngô Đình Thục.

1945 (September 2)- President Hồ Chí Minh declared Việt Nam as an independent nation.

1954 (July 21) - The Geneva Accord separated Việt Nam into two zones.

1955 (September 20) – Cần Thơ Diocese was erected.

1957 (July 5) - Establishment of Nha Trang Diocese.

1960 (November 24) - Creation of the Catholic Hierarchy in Việt Nam.

1963 (January 18) - Establishment of Đà Nẵng Diocese.

1965 (October 14) - Foundation of Dioceses of Phú Cuờng and Xuân Lộc.

1967 (June 22) - Establishment of Ban Mê Thuột Diocese.

1975 (January 31) - Setting up of Phan Thiết Diocese.
         (April 30) - Reunification of the country.
         (August) - Apostolic Delegate Henri Lemaitre left Việt Nam.

1976 (November 23) - Sài Gòn Archdiocese renamed Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.
         (May 24) - Archbishop Trinh Như Khuê of Hà Nội was created as first Vietnamese cardinal.

1980 (April 24 - May 1) - Bishops from the South and North gathered for their first National Plenary Assembly.

1987 (February 9) - Saint Joseph Major Seminary in Sài Gòn reopened after being closed for five years.

1988 (June 19) - Pope John Paul II canonized 117 Vietnamese Martyrs.

1989 (July 1 - 13) - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, pontifical representative, visited Việt Nam, paving the way for annual visits by Holy See delegates in later years.

1991 (September 25) - Mother Teresa Calcutta visited Việt Nam.

1993 (October 18) - Vietnamese bishops attended their first annual meeting.

1996 (January 17 - 21) - French delegates led by Archbishop Joseph Duval visited Việt Nam.

1998 (April) - Eight Vietnamese prelates attended the Synod of Bishops for Asia in Rome.
         (June 24) - Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận appointed as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He was in Rome since March 1989.
         (December) - The bi-monthly Magazine Hiệp Thông (Communion) of CBCV was published.

6. The 21st century

2000 (March 5) - Catechist Andrew Phú Yên was beatified.

2002 (September 16) - Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận died

2003 (October 21)- Archbishop John the Baptist Phạm Minh Mẫn was named cardinal. He is the first cardinal of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.

2005 (November 22) - Setting up of Ba Rịa Diocese, the 26th diocese of the Catholic Church in Việt Nam.
         (November 28 - December 5) - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, paid an official visit to Việt Nam.

2007 (January 25) - Pope Benedict XVI met Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng at Vatican.

2008 (November 26) - Inauguration of Xuân Lộc Major Seminary facilities, the country’s seventh seminary providing priestly formation for seminarians from four Dioceses of Bà Rịa, Đà Lạt, Phan Thiết and Xuân Lộc.

2009 (November 24) - Launch of the Jubilee Year 2010 of the Catholic Church  in Việt Nam, marking the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the first two Apostolic Vicariates as well as the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Catholic Vietnamese Hierarchy.
         (December 11) - Pope Benedict XVI met President Nguyễn Minh Triết.

2010 (November, 21 - 25) - Congress of God's People held in Ho Chi Minh City.

2011 (January 4-6) - Conclusion of the Vietnamese Church's Jubilee Year 2010 at the national Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang.
         (January 18) - Italian Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was named as non - resident Pontifical Representative for Việt Nam.
         (April 18 - May 2) - Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli paid his first visit to Việt Nam.



[1] Secretariat Office of CBCV (2004), Giáo Hội Công Giáo Việt Nam - Niên Giám 2004 (Catholic Church in Việt Nam - Year Book 2004), (Hà Nội: Tôn Giáo Publication, 2004), 204-225.

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