Singapore

Novena Church will hold first mass on Sept 29, following upgrading

For months, people have been trying to sneak into the grounds of Novena Church to surreptitiously snap photos of the striking new Gothic-style building that has risen at 300, Thomson Road.

Soon, they will not have to do so. After being closed for nearly three years for an extensive overhaul, Novena Church, one of Singapore's most iconic and popular Catholic churches, will finally reopen in two weeks.

The first mass will be held on Sept 29 at 6.30pm. This comes after a $54 million revamp that sees the 67-year-old church take on a gleaming new look.

Clad in granite outside and limestone inside, the church's sanctuary now features soaring arches, intricate columns, a dome and 24 large stained glass windows.

The seating capacity has now almost doubled, from 800 to 1,500, said Father Simon Tan, the priest in charge of the project. There is also more standing room after a carpark was converted to a plaza.

Also new is the installation of air-conditioning.

A special scent has even been created to be diffused throughout the space. Called Aroma Di Novena, the anti-viral and anti-bacterial scent features the essential oils of frankincense rosemary, lavender and citrus.

"We made the changes so that worshippers would feel comfortable," Fr Tan told The Straits Times.

Before the upgrading, the church drew about 15,000 visitors across its 10 Saturday services, with hundreds spilling outside.

The design team behind the revamp said they produced a look somewhat "reminiscent of European churches" - a design rare for modern Catholic churches here, which tend to opt for more practical styles due to land constraints.

Mr Melvin Gamayot of CGN Architects said he felt a lot of pressure while working on the project.

"I usually design condominiums and commercial projects such as hotels, so I had a lot of sleepless nights coming up with a design and communicating this to contractors."

Retiree Josephine Ee, 54, who has been attending services at the church for 20 years, said: "The new building is beautiful."

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

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