On a mountain of great spiritual resonance, the old French church has stood the test of time, even with the graffiti. Photograph: Stuart Alan Becker/Phnom Penh Post
The first Catholic services at the old French church on top of Bokor Mountain are taking place with the Christian communities of Kampot and Prey Pros near Sihanoukville arriving on the misty hilltop this morning and preparing for a 3pm service.
Father Fernando of Kampot will be leading the celebration of the Good Friday mass at the classic stone church dating back to Cambodia’s French Protectorate period. The service will celebrate “Via Crucis” or “Stations of the Cross” in the Catholic tradition.
According to Thansur Bokor Highland Resort’s General Manager Gerd Beurich, the event marks an important moment in Bokor Mountain’s history as a very spiritual place.
“I really wanted to help bring the church back to life,” he said, “and to see it in use again by the Christian community.”
Historian and Linguist Jean-Michel Filippi from the Royal University of Phnom Penh said this is probably the first service at that church since the early 1970s.
“That region was not accessible since before 1972,” Filippi said.