Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Apostolic Vicariate of Western Siam and the Rise of Catholicism in Malaysia and Singapore*

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of International Journal of Asian Christianity

This article examines the emergence of the Catholic Church in Malaysia and Singapore in the modern period through an exploration of the Apostolic Vicariate of Western Siam (1841–1888). The establishment of this Catholic institution—a temporary territorial jurisdiction in missionary regions that precedes the creation of new dioceses—was key to advancing the transition of the Church from its older colonial model towards a modern national Church. Focusing on the work conducted by French missionaries of the Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP) over these five decades, we analyze the process of developing a local clergy and setting up the socio-cultural scaffolding of the contemporary Catholic Church in the Malay Peninsula. We pay special attention to how MEP missionaries skilfully navigated their missionary activities through encounters with Malay rulers and British colonial officers to secure the creation of a Catholic elite independent of the Portuguese Padroado. Our argument suggests that the apostolic vicariate and the dynamism of the French MEP missionaries in colonial Malaya opened up the pathway for the rise of the ethnic Catholic elites in modern-day Malaysia and Singapore.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia, Bangi Selangor, Malaysia ; 2: Department of Society, Culture and Media, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Alberts Tara. Conflict and Conversion: Catholicism in Southeast Asia, 1500–1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
2. Aritonang Jan Sihar, and Karel Adriaan Steenbrink. A History of Christianity in Indonesia (Leiden: Brill, 2008).
3. Chew Maureen K.C. The Journey of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, 1511–1996 . (Kuala Lumpur: Catholic Research Centre, 2000).
4. Chew Maureen K.C. History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Penang (Penang: the Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang, 2016).
5. Cronin Vincent. A Pearl to India. The Life of Roberto de Nobili . (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1959).
6. Decroix Paul. History of the Church and Churches in Malaysia and Singapore (1511–2000) (Fr P. Decroix M.E.P., 2005).
7. Duignan Peter. “"Early Jesuit Missionaries: A Suggestion for Further Study”", American Anthropologist Vol 60 (4) (1958), 72532.
8. Dutton George,. “"Crossing Oceans, Crossing Boundaries: The Remarkable Life of Philiphê Binh (1759–1832)."” In Viêt Nam Borderless Histories , eds, Anthony Reid, and Nhung Tuyet Tran (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006, 219255).
9. Evers Georg,. “"On the Trail of Spices: Christianity in Southeast Asia".” In The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia , ed, Felix Wilfred (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) 6579.
10. Goh Daniel P.S. “"Elite schools, Postcolonial Chineseness and Hegemonic Masculinities in Singapore".” British Journal of Sociology of Education , Vol 36 (1) (2015), 13755, doi: 10.1080/01425692.2014.971944.
11. Goh Robbie B.H. Christianity in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005).
12. Hägerdal Hans. Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea: Conflict and Adaptation in Early Colonial Timor, 1600–1800 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).
13. Hodgson Dorothy L. The Church of Women: Gendered Encounters Between Maasai and Missionaries (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).
14. Hudd Sandra. The Site of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Singapore: Entwined Histories of a Colonial Convent and a Nation, 1854–2015 (London: Lexington Books, 2016).
15. Hussin Iza. The Politics of Islamic Law. Local Elites, Colonial Authority, and the Making of the Muslim State (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2016).
16. Karim Wazir Jahan. “"The ‘Discovery’ of Penang Island at Tanjong Tokong before 1785: Bapu Alaidin Meera Hussein Lebai and Captain Francis Light".” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol 86 (1) (2013), 129.
17. Keith Charles. Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).
18. Launay Marcel. “"Stratégie missionnaire et obstacles à l’évangélisation pendant le grand siècle missionnaire (xixe siècle)".” Histoire et Missions Chrétiennes Vol 7 (2008), 5977, doi: 10.3917/hmc.007.0059.
19. Malekandathil Pius. “"Cross, Sword and Conflicts: A Study of the Political Meanings of the Struggle between the Padroado Real and the Propaganda Fide",” Studies in History Vol 27 (2) (2011), 25167. doi: 10.1177/0257643012459418.
20. Moffett Samuel. History of Christianity in Asia: 1500 to 1900 (New York: Orbis Books, 2005).
21. Mosse David. The Saint in the Banyan Tree (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).
22. Northcott Michael S. “"Christian-Muslim Relations in West Malaysia".” The Muslim World , Vol 81 (1) (1991), 4871.
23. Patary Bernard. “"Homo Apostolicus. La formation du clergé indigène au Collège général des Missions Étrangères de Paris, à Penang (Malaisie), 1808–1968: institution et représentations".” Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (Ecole doctorale: Sciences sociales [Histoire], Université Lumière Lyon 2, 2009).
24. Pearson Michael. “"Spain and Spanish Trade in Southeast Asia".” Journal of Asian History Vol 2 (2) (1968), 10929.
25. Phan Peter C. Mission and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes and Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam (New York: Orbis Books, 1998).
26. Pillai Shanthini. “"Modern Asian Ecclesiastical Interconnections: Catholic Tamil Nadu and its diaspora in Malaysia".” The Australian Journal of Anthropology Vol 28 (2): 165179.
27. Raffaele Cardon, Catholicism in the East and the Diocese of Malacca, 1511–1888 (Singapore: 1938).
28. Ragot-Delcourt Veroniqué. “"Évolution des relais et des moyens d’évangélisation des Missions Étrangères de Paris du xviie au xxie siècle".” Histoire et Missions Chrétiennes Vol 7 (2008), 3757, doi: 10.3917/hmc.007.0037.
29. Reid Anthony. “"The French in Sumatra and the Malay World, 1760–1890".” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde , Vol 129 (2/3) (1973).
30. Rule Paul. “"The Chinese Rites Controversy".” Pacific Rim Report Vol 32 (2004), 18.
31. Sinha Vineeta. Religion-State Encounters in Hindu Domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore , vol. Vol 1 (Singapore: Springer Science and Business Media, 2011).
32. Tan Jonathan Y. Christian Mission Among the Peoples of Asia (New York, Orbis Books, 2014).
33. Tiedemann R.G. ed. Handbook of Christianity in China. Volume 2: 1800 to the Present (Leiden: Brill, 2009).
34. Trocki Carl. “"Opium and the Beginnings of Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia".” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies Vol 33 (2) (2002), 297314.
35. White Owen, and J.P. Daughton. In God’s Empire: French Missionaries and the Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
36. Wijesingha Eugene, and René Nicolas. Going Forth: The Catholic Church in Singapore, 1819–2004 . (Singapore: His Most Rev. Nicholas Chia, Titular Roman Catholic archbishop of Singapore, 2006).
37. Woodberry Robert. “"The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy".” American Political Science Review Vol 102 (2) (2012), 24474, doi: 10.1017/S0003055412000093.
38. Županov Ines. Disputed Missions: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    International Journal of Asian Christianity — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation