The Gereja Kelahiran Santa Perawan Maria is a Roman Catholic Church found in the Surabaya City of Indonesia. It also goes by the name the Roman Catholic Kepanjen. The name Roman Catholic Kepanjen is much more commonly used by the locals because the church is found along Kepanjen Street.
Built in year 1899, the Kepanjen Church is the oldest church in the city of Surabaya. The Church has experienced a long history of construction and reconstruction as the development of the Church was passed on to many pastors and their successors. The church was the original idea of Pastor Waanders but he did not live long to see the product of his desires. He was then succeeded by Pastor Moonen Pr, who invited Mgr. Vracken to Surabaya in 1847 to help with the project. The group’s first mission was to focus on helping children who were abandoned by their parents. Its second mission was then to construct a church. Pastor Moonon along with his confidants then got contributions from church members and a subsidy from the government to restore a small old church. Along with the construction, an organ and altar from Kot’s Bosh was also donated as well.
In the year 1889, Pastor CWJ Wennerker bought a piece of land along Tempelstraat Street, which is now known as Kepanjen Street, at the price of 8815 Guilders. At the time, Pastor Van Santen SJ, who was the head pastor, wanted to pursue the construction of a church bigger than the small one they already had. The Church was then to be erected along the newly bought piece of land along Tempelstraat Street. Unfortunately, it was only ten years after the land was bought that the first cornerstone was laid. In August of 1899, the church was constructed by Pastor P.J. Van Santen, and the construction cost amounted to about 165,000 Guilders. That same year, the Catholic Church was opened to the public. It was then blessed by Mgr. Edmundus Sybrandus Luypen and was officially proclaimed to be devoted to Mother Mary.
The building is carefully designed with a gothic architectural pattern. It bears a similar resemblance to the St. Jean Baptiste de Belleville in Paris, which was erected in 1854. This church was one of the first new-Gothic churches in Paris and was conceived by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus. Similar to the Roman Catholic Kepanjen, the synchronization of the windows, doors and curved roof make up its entire Gothic form, something quite surprising in a city full of Dutch colonial structures. Its sharp and pointed roof only adds to its mystery, making it a church to be admired by many tourists from around the world. Its unique design then makes it a great contrast to the typical structures seen around Surabaya.
Although Surabaya is a predominantly Muslim city, there are a few Catholic Churches in the East Java Capital due to the influence of the Dutch colonial era. The Gereja Kelahiran Santa Perawan Maria is indeed one of the few Roman Catholic structures in the city that holds a huge amount of historical value.