Dec 5, 2008

Who's that Guy inside St. Patrick's School and St. Joseph's Institution?

While going through some recent photos in my hard-disk, I found this. Now, get ready for the million dollars question -just who is this guy?

St Patrick's School
Statue in St. Patrick's School

Picture was taken while I was at St. Patrick's School. This huge bronze statue guarded the entrance to the school building. This must be St. Patrick right?


Whenever you walk along Bras Basah Road in front of SAM, look to your left for sexy SMU girls right. Above the foyer, a bronze statue with fingers pointing stands proudly since the St Joseph’s Institution days. Now, get ready for the next million dollars question. - just who is this guy?

Photo Credit: acroamatic under Creative Commons license.


Don't fret. One more chance. If the guy is not St. Patrick or St. Joseph, then he must be the school's founder right? After all, there is a statue of Tan Kah Kee in front of the clock tower in Chinese High School as well. Guess who founded Chinese High?

Wrong. All wrong!

The guy could not be the founder of St. Patrick or St. Joseph in the sense Bishop William Oldham founded Anglo-Chinese School. This can be verified from the picture taken at the base of the St. Patrick's School statue.

St Patrick's School
St. John Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719)

Singapore was founded a hundred years after his death, you say leh?

St. John Baptist de La Salle

Some tidbits about our man St. John Baptist de La Salle. First, he was a French priest so the name's actually Jean-Baptiste de La Salle. Second, the 'Saint' part of his name didn't exist until his canonization in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII, so he was John Baptist and not St. John Baptist when SJI was founded (am I right?). Third, and this is why he truly deserved a place in St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's, he founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Long name? Wait till you see the French - Frères des écoles chrétiennes and Latin - Fratres Scholarum Christianarum.

St Patrick's School
Forget about the long name. In Singapore (in fact U.K., Ireland and Australasia), they are known as De La Salle Brothers. Above was taken in St. Patrick's School when I was there for some business.

You can read about group's history if you are interested, like what they did and their contributions since the founding in 1680. Looking at how far they have come, I've to say it's pretty impressive. From wikipedia's last count,

Currently, about 6,000 Brothers and 75,000 lay and religious colleagues worldwide serve as teachers, counselors and guides to 900,000 students in over 1,000 educational institutions in 84 countries.

So St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's are just two of over a thousand educational institutions indebted to the movement. They are not the only ones in Singapore though. There are other Lasallian Schools as well, for example St. Anthony's Primary School and De La Salle School. Their school buildings are relatively new, so I'm not sure whether there's a nice bronze statue like the one in St. Patrick's. Heck, did they even "shift" the one from old SJI to SJI Malcolm Road?

St Patrick's School
Where is St. John Baptist pointing to?

If you observe statues of St. John Baptist, you can't help but notice the similarity - the man himself with stretched right arm and fingers pointing up, surrounded by two children and books. There's an old joke about the one at SAM, previously SJI. If you look again at the picture of the statue, it looks like St. John Baptist was telling the boy to go somewhere. Exactly where, you can find the joke in acroamatic's School Days at SJI. For acroamatic's own guess, look here.

To find out more about school days at SJI Bras Basah, read ordinary guy's award-winning blog article on his alma mater.


Adelin said...

Woah, do a research on my school too!!! :D

Icemoon has yet once again gave a detailed interesting history story. :)

Victor said...

So you were a guy inside St Pat's too? An old boy?

yg said...

icemoon, that version of the joke is slightly different from what we used to hear. the version i heard as a schoolboy: "son, if you can't make it, go to stamford road and sell your b..." how did johore road come into the picture? johore road is near queen st and rochor rd, quite far from old sji, rt?

Icemoon said...

Victor, I was from a Chinese school. I was in St. Pat. for some religious business, my first time inside.

yg, you used to study nearby, so you know the joke better than me. Maybe ordinary guy can tell us the official version of the joke, haha.

Anonymous said...

I'm also an old boy from st pats (1993 to 1997), around the time the school was renovated to how it looks now.

If i recall correctly, there wasn't a statue of lasalle in the school before the renovation.

The statue in your blog post, is definately new. I remember them getting a crane in to lift it up, and there was some sort of an unveiling ceremony too.

The statue didn't look broze like this before. This is a new paint job. The original broze colour (paint?) of the statue started to peel off horribly quick after it was unveiled.

If memory serves me right, the statue at SAM is the original statue since it was SJI. The new SJI has an identical statue (new one) made when the school shifted in the early 90s.