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Friday, 21 February 2014

Hallelujah Korea, Part VIII: Gyesan Cathedral, Daegu Jung-gu - Home of Archdiocese of Daegu

The Gyesan Cathedral of Our Lady of Loudres (Hanja: 桂山聖堂) was built by Priest Robert, A.P. (1853-1922), who came to Daegu for missionary work. Located at 10 Seoseong Avenue/Seoseongno, Gyesan-dong 2-ga 71-1 beonji, Daegu Jung-gu, this cathedral is the home for Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Daegu (Hangul/Hanja/Latin: 천주교 대구대교구/天主教大邱大教區/Archidioecesis Taeguensis).  

The Archbishop of Daegu, whose seat is at Gyesan Cathedral in Daegu, is Metropolitan bishop for the Dioceses of Andong, Cheongju, Changwon, and Busan. It is the second oldest episcopal see in Korea, erected as an apostolic vicariate on April 8, 1911 from the Apostolic Vicariate of Korea. It was elevated to archdiocesan status on March 10, 1962.

In 1899, the church building was constructed with wood using a Korean-style design, but was destroyed by fire a few months after construction began. Priest Robert, with assistance of the Koreans: Augustine Seo Sang-don, Kim Jong-hak and Jeong Gyu-ok were created a new building design and imported stained glass and galvanized iron from France and Hong Kong, since these types of building materials were hard to find in Korea. Construction was finally completed in 1902, three years after the project was first started. 

The Cathedral is the only remaining structure in Daegu from the early 1900s. The church is Latin cross-shaped with a nave and transepts on both sides. Such formations are seen both inside and outside the building. This predominantly Romanesque church also features some Gothic architectural elements such as stained-glass windows and pinnacles. 

Gyesan Cathedral played a pivotal role in promoting Catholicism in the Yeongnam-Gyeongsang area. In 1911, it was separated from the Joseon Catholic parish and became the main Catholic parish in Daegu area, naming Priest Robert as the first chief priest. Statues commemorating the priest stand in the rectory and a memorial hall named ‘Gwandeokjeong’ holds the remains of 65 Catholic martyrs.