Shitsu church, the symbol of Sotome
After arriving in Sotome, Father de Rotz worked particularly hard to help women lead self-sufficient lives
The first thing Father de Rotz used his money for in Sotome was to build Shitsu church as a focal point for faith. He was in charge of both the church’s design and construction. The land he purchased for building it was a slightly elevated slope, because he wished the church to be seen from as many places in Sotome as possible.
Local Christians themselves helped with the church’s construction. They engaged in heavy labour, by carrying timber which had been cut in the mountains, for instance. They also carried bricks which had been transported by boat to the seashore.
The beautiful, white church, which sits amid terraced rice fields, was completed in 1882, a year after the construction work began. It was built using brick which was then covered with plaster. The arched entrances and window frames on the church's solid exterior help to give it a gentle look. Although the interior of the church is simple, it has a very solemn and prayerful atmosphere.
Owing to Sotome's climate (which has lots of strong winds), it is said that they tried to make the roof as low as possible. The village in France where Father de Rotz was from also has strong wings, and there is a church there which is similar in shape to the one in Shitsu. Perhaps Father de Rotz didn’t just have the weather in mind when he designed Shitsu church, however. Perhaps he was also remembering with fondness the village where he was from, which was now so far away.