I'm a free thinker when it comes to religion but has always been obsessed by the craftsmanship of buildings - especially churches. Besides that, I've always been attracted to the holy and tranquil atmosphere inside churches. I always feel calm and peaceful inside as if there's nothing to fear. Therefore, whenever traveling to another country, I always include visiting churches to my itinerary.
The Portuguese colonized Macau for more than a century and in the process, also brought in their beliefs into this little piece of land. A simple counting shows that in just Macau Island alone, there are more than ten big and small churches built all over the place. During my previous trip to Macau, I had a church-hopping trip to most, if not all, of the churches located in Macau Island.
The most famous “church” in Macau would have to be “The Ruins of St. Paul’s”. But strictly speaking, The Ruins of St. Paul’s should not be counted as a church because the building was destroyed by a fire in 1835. What’s left today is only its façade, but that doesn’t stop it for being the most famous landmark in Macau.
St. Dominic’s Church, located at the end of Senado Square is also famous for its wooden ceiling. The church was built by Spanish Dominican friars who worship The Holy Rosary. There is also a museum inside the belfry of the church which display collections of sacred art and statues.
The Cathedral, located at Largo da Sé has a long history that dates back to as early as 1576.
It is the mother church of the catholic Diocese of Macau. In front of the Cathedral is the Cathedral Square which has a fountain and a large piece of space that makes it a great place to relax in for both locals and visitors.
St. Anthony’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Macau and was built by the Jesuits. St. Anthony is regarded as the saint of marriage by the Portuguese hence, they used it to hold their wedding ceremonies over here, that’s how the church got its Chinese name: Fa Wong Tong (Church of Flowers).
Then there is Guia Chapel situated on Guia Hill. Next to the chapel is the oldest lighthouse on the coast of China. This little chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of the Snow. There are also beautiful frescoes inside the chapel which should not be missed.
St. Augustine Church located at Largo de Santo Agostinho is neighboring near other popular structures such as Dom Pedro V Theatre, St. Joseph’s Seminary, and the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, it is also one of the oldest churches that you can find in the island. Every year, the church also holds the Easter Procession which involves the participation of thousands of devotees.
Our Lady of Penha Church is situated high at the top of Penha Hill, which overlooks the beauty of Macau. During the ‘60s or ’70s, Penha Hill was one of the most popular spots for filming Cantonese dramas, nowadays, it’s just a famous spot for taking wedding pictures. Outside the church, you can find a marble statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And every 13th of May, a pilgrimage and procession are held in her honor.
Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to visit the churches in Taipa and Coloane. I just told myself that I will come back one day for the second part of my Macau church-hopping tour… :D