Chiangmai, Thailand

Seven Fountains Jesuit Retreat Center



Why is our place called "Seven Fountains"?


The northern part of present day Thailand used to be an independent kingdom, the Kingdom of Lanna.


In the year 1411 A.D. (1954 B.E.), two rival leaders led their armies into this northern kingdom to wage an attack on King Saam Fang Kaen. The King and his troops were located at the foot of Doi Suthep (the northwestern tip of the current city of Chiangmai), and they built a small fortress there to defend the King and his control of the city.


The two armies who attacked the royal fortress were led by Yee Kum Kaam (the elder step-brother of King Saam Fang Kaen) and King Sai Lyy Tai (Sukhotai). The military commander of King Saam Fang Kaen had protected this fortress by surrounding it with soldiers commanding more than 200 bullock carts.


When the approaching invaders saw this show of strength, they turned back and started their retreat away from Chiangmai.


King Saam Fang Kaen later turned this fortress and its surrounding area into a palace and called it "The City of the Seven Water Troughs" because of the seven wooden troughs or small aqueducts that brought the water from Doi Suthep into the palace area.


The original name of the palace was Wiang Jet Lin.


Wiang means a city enclosed by a protective wall
Jet means seven
Lin means trough or conduit for water


The water from Doi Suthep was considered sacred, and so added to the special nature of this palace. Several kings from nearby kingdoms would come to ask for this lustral water as part of the royal ceremonies, and eventually water from this source was also used for the enthronement of kings of the Lanna Kingdom.


The Jesuits and the Ursuline sisters bought our current piece of land in Chiangmai in 1965 A.D. This land is just 500 meters from the remains of the old city-palace, Wiang Jet Lin. We decided to use the oldest recorded name of this part of the city, and called our property "Suan Jet Rin" -- using the current intonation and words:


Suan means garden
Jet means seven
Rin is the current form of Lin, water-conduit


seven conduits
seven streams
seven fountains
seven gifts of the Holy Spirit


And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding,
the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude,
the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness.
And he shall be filled with the
spirit of the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah 11:2-3


Our main chapel is called "The Chapel of the Holy Spirit". The stained glass window above the main altar speaks of the flowing of the graces of the Holy Spirit down into our world; the water fountain at the entrance to the chapel is the sign of sacred water flowing into the hearts of those who seek the Lord.

 

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