Ask anyone and most people will be able to tell you that present-day CHIJMES, sited at Victoria Street, was formerly a convent known as CHIJ (Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus). Unlike CHIJ at Victoria Street which has been preserved and transformed into a place for high-end shopping and fine dining within the shopping belt, there is another convent located nearby where the school building did not share much popularity and fanfare today but still held a rich history. Located at No.111 Middle Road, the school building known as St Anthony’s Convent, still stands today but to much emptiness.
^ Opposite the old St Anthony’s Convent, three shop units selling party stuff formerly from the Concourse have relocated to Middle Road. All the kiddy party needs can be found here. From party hats to gift bags, a place your kids will love to browse for his/her next birthday party.
^ A group of girls from St Anthony’s Convent (L-R: Joyce Ho, Betty Chin, Catherine Leow, Agnes Low, Janice Wong) which was the first women’s team that participated in the Free Press Big Walk. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1961)
In Aug 1879, the priest of St Joseph’s Church (the Church still exist today and is located just next to the old school building), Father Jose Pedro Santo Anna de Cunha, decided to set up a school for the poor children of the parish. The school started with an enrolment of just 6 students, and was known as St Anna’s School.
^ Christmas celebration with the handicapped at St Anthony’s Convent. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1975). Did you notice the old film camera and the aerated bottled drinks from F&N (Fraser & Neave) in the photo? Take note of the design of the floor tiles.
As the years passed, enrolment increased. In 1894, the girls came under St Anthony’s Girls School while the boys formed the population of St Anthony’s Boys School. The Canossian nuns managed St Anthony’s Girl’s School where the girls were given basic education and technical skills. Apart from the academics, technical skills such as sewing and embroidery were also taught to equip them with skills to land a job when they grow up.
In 1906, the school was known as St Anthony’s Convent. During World War II, the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942-1945), the school became a refuge for the sick and the homeless.
On 4th Aug 1979, Dr Toh Chin Chye (Minister for Health) made a speech during the centenary celebrations of St Anthony’s Boys School and St Anthony’s Convent. Here’s an excerpt of his speech.
Read the rest of the history of St Anthony’s Convent.
^ The statue of St Anthony which can be seen along Middle Road.
^ …the Chinese Opera Institute.
^ A map showing the location where the old St Anthony’s Convent and St Anthony’s Boys School once stood. If you happen to be passing that area, perhaps you like to find out what is the name of the building that presently sits on the site of old St Anthony’s Boys School. What happened to St Anthony’s Boys School?
The girls of St Anthony’s Convent, in their light blue pinafore and white blouse, no longer commute to their school at Middle Road. In 1995, the school was relocated to a bigger site at Bedok North Avenue 4 with better amenities to accomodate the large student population. The primary and secondary level each has their own respective school wings all within the same compound.
I’m sure the school’s motto in Latin “VIA, VERITAS, VITA” in English that means the “Way, Truth, Life” carried in the hearts of these convent girls have guided them well in their life’s journey.
Were you a convent girl from SAC who studied at the old school premises at Middle Road? What unforgettable memories hold for you during your time there?
Added on 25th Aug 2009:
I am adding a comment to this main post page which is from the Canossian Alumni Association that provides more information about the Canossian spirituality and her set up.
Canossian Alumni Association Says:
August 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm
Thank you for featuring SACPS and SACSS. It brings back fond memories for all Canossians at 111 Middle Road. Canossian Alumni Association is the official alumni connecting the 3 Canossian Schools: Canossa Convent Pri, SAC Pri and SAC Sec. Whilst we are a small community in Singapore, our Italian roots cross 35 countries. Our school motto Via Veritas Vita is embedded in Canossian schools across the network eg Sacred Heart Canossian College in HK etc. It is named St Anthony’s Convent in the early years 1879 as the Canossian Sisters in Singapore belonged to the province of St Anthony. Whilst we are a small community in Singapore, we do not seek to compare ourselves with any others who are perceived to be more popular. We remain close to the Canossian Sisters and ensure that the mission of our school foundress St Magdalene of Canossa stay true to its roots. http://canossianalumni.com.