Normally I would not post about ‘just’ a church. But what makes this church special (and I know this because of the Wan Chai Urban Myths tour) is that it is not easily recognised as such.
Of course, if you walk along Star Street and read what it says next to the entrance of a residential building, you’ll quickly know that there is a place of worship inside.
A catholic church has been in this area for more than 150 years. But it started small: the first church was the St Francis Xavier Chapel, which was the place of worship for the Wan Chai parishioners. It was built already around 1845, but it was too small for the growing number of Wan Chai parishioners. Wan Chai residents were mostly poor people, but they donated to a construction fund and after years of donations (which started in 1940), the church was opened in 1950 and named ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel‘ in 1959.
In 1990s, the diocese sold the church and the lot and the proceeds were used for the development of other parishes. However, after many negotiations, the developer, in 1997, agreed to have a church inside the new building on the same site. The new church was officially opened in 2001 – and it is a mix of old and new.
When you enter the lobby, you can see the statue of the Lady on the left hand side. Looking up, there are two bells hanging from the ceiling, which (I have been told) formed part of the old church.
Inside the new church, the big skylight above the altar catches one’s attention – it consists of lots of small sparkling pieces of crystal beads hanging down and a the suspended golden cross. The skylight means heaven, the crystal beads hanging down like a waterfall denote the manifestation of salvation and the suspended cross is Jesus coming down from heaven.
There is also water running inside the church – rumour or myth has it that this water has always been running inside the church, since it was built in the 1950s. But I do not know where it comes from and whether it really is the same stream that used to run in the old church.