Bishop Pierre Lambert De La Motte, Vicaire Apostolique of Cochinchina, one of the founders of
Missions Etrangeres de Paris, arrived in Ayutthaya with the other two missionaries on 22nd August 1662 during the reign of king Narai, the Great.
The King, pleased with their contribution to the welfare of his people, graciously acceded to Mgr. Lambert De La Motte’s request for permission to build a church, bestowing to them a piece of land and a sum of money. They called this place “St. Joseph Camp”.
The original church with wooden structure was built in 1666. It was rebuilt with
brick and mortar in the European style in 1685 and was not completed till ten years later in 1695 during the reign of king Petracha.
During the Burmese invasion, the Thais used the church as shelter and a base from which
they fought the Burmese. On 23rd March 1767, ten days before the Fall of Ayutthaya, Burmese troops burnt down and looted the church.
The enthusiasm and diligence of the missionaries did not cease with this destruction.
During the Rattanakosin period, Mgr. Jean Baptist Pallegoix, Vicaire Apostolique of Siam (1841-1862), had a good relationship with King Rama IV and could make the great progress in evangelization in Siam. Realizing that St. Joseph church was the first church of the Mission and where were buried 8 Vicaires Apostoliques and about 30 missionaries, Mgr. Pallegoix undertook the restoration of the church in 1847 with the supervision of Father Albert. The new church was completed on the same and old site and incorporated the front and side of the former church.
During the reign of King Rama V, Bishop Jean Louis Vey, Vicaire Apostolique of Siam
(1875-1909), considered St. Joseph church the most important of the Mission. Then the most glorious and magnificent church of Ayutthaya was rebuilt.
During the synod of the Vicaires Apostoliques and the Superiors of the Missions in this part of the world which was convoked at Singapore in 1880, Mgr. Vey proposed a project which interested, in the first place, the Mission of Siam and also the whole Society of M.E.P. The project was approved by all the participants of the synod. That was the project of reconstructing St. Joseph church of Ayutthaya. The Mission of Siam was considered by all the first Mission of the Society and this church was the first center. In his letter to Paris on January 28, 1880, he said that there were 8 Vicaires Apostoliques and 30 missionaries were reposing there in the midst of the four ruined walls. Under the supervision of P. Perraux and with the aid of the Italian architect, M. Joachim Grassi, the church was rebuilt in 1883 and fully completed in 1891. The church was blessed and rededicated to St. Joseph with great celebration by Mgr. Jean Louis Vey on 17th April 1891.
The church could stand elegantly more than one hundred years.
It appears presently somewhat depreciated, though one cannot but be struck by the elegance of its design and decoration of the 12th century Romanesque style church which confirms its importance in the history of the Catholic Church in Thailand. His Eminence Michael Michai Kitbunchu has decided to renovate this historical church totally in 2003. The renovation has been completed in 2004. On March 20th, 2004, it is then recorded in the history of the church that St. Joseph church is blessed again and will stand as the witness of evangelization and dedication of all the bishops and missionaries who worked in Thailand till the end of their lives. Mgr. Pierre Lambert De La Motte, one of the founders of the M.E.P. and one of the founders of the Mission of Siam and Mgr. Louis Laneau, the first Vicaire Apostolique of Siam are placed appropriately in the tombs in the church and the other 6 Bishops and not less than 23 missionaries are placed in the Memorial Place in the cemetery of the church.