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The first synod of Tonkin (February 14, 1670)

Published on 09/05/2022

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« Depuis qu’il a plu à Dieu nous donner entrée en ce royaume du Tonkin, notre unique but a été de penser aux moyens les plus convenables pour procurer sa plus grande gloire. Entre tous ceux qui nous sont venus à l’esprit, celui de tenir un synode nous ayant paru le meilleur, nous avons convoqué en ce lieu les personnes qui auraient eu la commission d’instruire les fidèles et de travailler à la conversion des gentils depuis plusieurs années, afin d’aviser conjointement aux voies d’exécuter un si juste dessein. »


With these words begin the Acts of the first synod in the history of the Church of Vietnam, convened in 1670 by François Deydier (1634-1693), vicar general of the mission of Tonkin.


Fr. François Deydier


This synod gathered around Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Motte, three MEP missionaries, nine Tonkinese priests and the catechists of the local communities. Its purpose was to define a missionary strategy for the conversion of the Tonkinese as well as an organization of the newly born churches.


The Acts of this synod are written in 34 paragraphs, among which some important measures stand out[1]:

  • Each pastoral sector is entrusted to the care of a priest and catechists
  • All the goods of the mission are placed in common, the shared purse being used for the maintenance of the ecclesiastical personnel and the poor
  • The priests were responsible for the education of young boys who might later be sent to the seminary
  • They must also take care of young girls and widows who wish to consecrate their lives
  • Clerics and lay people are exhorted to meditate daily on the death and passion of Jesus Christ
  • The Church of Tonkin is solemnly placed under the patronage of Saint Joseph.


Original manuscript of the Acts of the Synod of February 14, 1670, p. 25


[1] JACQUES Roland (OMI), “Le premier synode du Tonkin (14 février 1670)”, dissertation for the licence canonique, under the direction of Jean Passicos, Paris, 1993, 109 p.

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