Like the Portuguese Church in Batavia this is actually a Dutch Church built in the grounds of a former Portuguese Church. This becomes evident when you look at all the Portuguese names on the gravestones in the adjacent cemetery, such as DaSilva, DaCosta, Minggo, Couterius, DaLopez, Fernandez etc etc.
The interior of the Church is magnificent. I am amazed at its size and the construction of the interior beams that form its huge vaulted ceiling. Solid teak columns rise from the tiled floor and support two more levels of columns, beams and crossbeams before slanting inwards to form the vaulted ceiling.
I expect that pre-cut Javanese teakwood was imported in kit-form for its construction in the 1890’s, as the columns and beams formed a self-supporting structure that was built before the brick-and-mortar walls of the church were added.
At the far end of the church the nave is simple in its design and three stained glass windows transmit a soft light into the interior. Surprising to me is that the stained glass is in a geometric floral design without any religious symbolism. I gaze in awe at this magnificent construction and think of the master craftsmen who put it together, over 100 years ago, in this small village on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia.
Inside the church is a memorial stone dedicated to the memory of Father J.F. LeCocq D’Armandville. He was born in Delft in 1845 and trained to be a Jesuit priest before leaving for the Dutch East Indies in 1879. After serving in Semarang and Maumere he arrived in the village of Sikka in 1885 to revive the Catholic faith there. His determination led to the building of the new church. The first mass was conducted in 1887 within the teak frame of the new church which already had an iron roof but no walls. For the walls LeCocq showed his parishioners how to bake bricks with a local clay and it was not until 1889 that the church, with its white plastered walls and an interior adorned with a band of traditional ikat design, was officially completed.
Ian Burnet combines his love of adventure and travel with his knowledge of history to take us on a personal journey through geographic space and historical time, which will delight all armchair travellers.
Travelling by bus, plane, train, ferry, boat, car and motorcycle from Java to Timor, he hops from island to island across the Indonesian archipelago, following the smoking volcanoes that form its spine.