Hidden chapel resembling a basilica
A ‘hidden’ chapel
Built in 1928 as a small private chapel for the nuns and staff of the Order of Sisters of St Paul de Chartres. In 1961, the Parish Priest for St Margaret’s Church asked the sisters if he could use it for a public Sunday mass, and the chapel grew into one of Hong Kong’s major Catholic churches. The chapel is ‘hidden’ in the St Paul’s Convent compound, sprawling grounds in the middle of the city with a private hospital and the famous St Paul’s Convent Schools.
Designed as a basilica
The chapel’s grand Romanesque basilica design is unique in Hong Kong. The two-storey building is supported by a surrounding colonnade of Corinthian columns and can accommodate over a thousand congregants. It was built by the prestigious French-Belgian bank Crédit Foncier d’Extrême-Orient (that went on to become international banking group BNP Paribas). Their portfolio also includes some Mansions at the Peak and the St Teresa’s Church in Kowloon. Have a look inside to admire the three sets of apse windows above the altar - decorated with colourful stained-glass panes of Jesus Christ flanked by Virgin Mary on either side - the Annunciation and the Assumption.
The street name is the only reminder that this compound was once a cotton mill owned by Jardine, Matheson & Co, the largest industrial company in 19th century Hong Kong. This very first cotton spinning and weaving mill in Hong Kong operated from 1898 to 1914, before it moved to Shanghai and the land was sold to the Catholic Church.