Macao has a lot more churches than mainland China for historical reasons. It is a good choice to visit the church in Macau.
When the Portuguese arrived in Macao more than four and a half centuries ago, they brought Catholicism with them and built many churches and convents. The old College of St. Paul served as the first Western university in Asia and became a significant entry point to China for foreign missionaries. Today, Macao is divided into Catholic dioceses on map, and magnificent Catholic churches can be found everywhere. Visit uniquely designed churches and learn more about their fascinating history.
1.St. Lawrence’s Church
Built by the Jesuits in the mid-16th century, this is one of the three oldest churches in Macao. Its present appearance and scale was acquired in 1846. Situated on the southern coastline of Macao overlooking the sea, families of Portuguese sailors used to gather on the front steps of the church to pray and wait for their return, hence it was given the name: Feng Shun Tang (Hall of the Soothing Winds). The neighbourhood where the church is located used to be fairly wealthy, thus explaining the building’s scale and wealth of architectural treatment. It is a neo-classical structure, with subtle Baroque decorative inspirations.
Address ：Rua de São Lourenço (access from Rua Da Imprensa Nacional)
Opening Hours ：
Monday – Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.,
Saturday & Sunday: 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
2.Chapel of Our Lady of Penha
The first chapel was founded in 1622 by the crew and passengers of a ship which had narrowly escaped capture by the Dutch. The chapel served as a point of pilgrimage for sailors embarking on a hazardous voyage.
Address ：Hilltop of Penha Hill
Opening ：Hours 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
3.St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church
Established in 1728, the old Seminary, together with St. Paul’s College, was the principal base for the missionary work implemented in China, Japan and around the region. St. Joseph’s Seminary taught an academic curriculum equivalent to that of a university and in 1800 the Portuguese Queen Dona Maria I conferred on it the royal title of “House of the Mission Congregation”. Adjacent to the Seminary is St. Joseph’s Church, built in 1758, an exemplary model of baroque architecture in China, as noted in UNESCO’s 2001 publication Atlas mundial de la arquitectura barroca.
Address ： Rua do Seminário
Opening Hours ： Church: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Seminary not open to the public)
4.Chapel of St. Francis Xavier
Built in 1928, this chapel follows the baroque style of Macao’s major churches. It has a cream and white facade with oval windows and a bell tower. It stands behind the monument commemorating the local victory over pirates in 1910.
The chapel contains some of the most sacred relics of Christian Asia. In a silver reliquary is a bone from the arm of St. Francis Xavier, who followed his missionary successes in Japan by coming to the China coast, where he died in 1552 on Sanchuan Island, 50 miles from Macao. The relic was destined for Japan but religious persecution there persuaded the church to keep it in Macao’ s St. Paul’ s. It was moved first to St. Joseph′ s and in 1978 to the chapel.
Persecution of Christians in Japan led to 26 foreign and Japanese Catholic priests being crucified in Nagasaki in 1597 and many hundreds of Christian Japanese being killed during the 1637 Shimabara Rebellion. The bones of the Martyrs and some of the rebels were brought to Macao and kept in St. Paul’ s. After fire destroyed the church, the bones were gathered and taken to the Cathedral. They were moved to St. Francis Xavier Chapel in 1974. Other bones stored in the chapel are relics of martyrs from 17th century Vietnam.
A few years ago, the relic was taken to St. Joseph’ s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum, but many people still come to this Chapel, especially Japanese Christians.
Address ： Rua do Caetano, Largo Eduardo Marques, Coloane
Opening Hours ： 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
5.St. Augustine’s Church
First established by Spanish Augustinians in 1591, this church maintains the tradition of organizing one of the most popular processions through the city, the Easter Procession, involving thousands of devotees. In times past, during heavy rain, the priests used to reinforce the rooftop with fan palm leaves. Seen from afar, these leaves appeared to be dragon’s whiskers floating in the wind, hence the local Chinese named it Long Song Miu (Temple of the Long-whiskered Dragon).
Address ： No.2 Santo Agostinho Square
Opening Hours ： 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
6.Chapel of St. Michael
Set in the beautiful, landscaped Catholic Cemetery, this small chapel, built in 1875, is one of the best maintained buildings in Macao. Its exterior is painted green and white. A stained-glass window filters coloured light into the chapel.
Address ：Estrada do Cemitério, Cemitério S. Miguel Arcanjo (St. Michael’s Cemetery)
Opening Hours ： 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
7.Our Lady of Carmel Church
Built in 1885, this church stands on a hill overlooking the sea, Taipa Village and the restored mansions of Old Taipa Praia.
Address ：Avenida de Carlos da Maia, Largo do Carmo, Taipa
Opening Hours ：10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Built around 1622, the Cathedral was originally constructed with taipa (compound material consisting soil and straw). During the restoration of 1780, the religious services of the Cathedral were temporarily transferred to the old chapel of the Holy House of Mercy. The facade is characterized by pilasters and the twin belfries that stand out on the streetscape. The exterior is clad in Shanghai plaster, giving the church a monolithic subdued appearance.
Address ： No.1 Cathedral Square
Opening Hours ： 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m
9.Our Lady of Fátima Church
Rebuilt in 1967, this church serves the people of the industrial Bairro Tamagnini Barbosa in the north of the city. It stands in a quiet courtyard behind wrought-iron gates. The design is contemporary with a large square tower containing two bells. A broad staircase lead to the spacious church. Inside, the side walls are lined with stained-glass panels and the altar consists of a wooden crucifix on a red brick wall.
Address ：Bairro Tamagnini Barbosa, Rua de Lei Pou Ch’ôn, No. 23
Opening Hours ： 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon; 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
10.St. Dominic’s Church
Founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who originally came from Acapulco in Mexico, this church is also connected to the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was here that the first Portuguese newspaper was published on Chinese soil, A Abelha da China (“The China Bee”), on 12th September 1822. The bell tower, at the back of the building, has been modified into a small Museum of Sacred Art, now exhibiting a collection of around 300 artifacts.
Address ：St. Dominic’s Square
Opening Hours ：10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
11.Ruins of St. Paul’s
The Ruins of St. Paul’s refer to the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-1640, destroyed by fire in 1835, and the ruins of St. Paul’s College, which stood adjacent to the Church. As a whole, the old Church of Mater Dei, St. Paul’s College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed what can be perceived as the Macao’s “acropolis”. Close by, the archaeological remains of the old College of St. Paul stand witness to what was the first western-style university in the Far East, with an elaborate academic programme. Nowadays, the facade of the Ruins of St. Paul’s functions symbolically as an altar to the city.
Address ： Company of Jesus Square
Opening Hours ：
Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (except Tuesday afternoon), no admission after 5:30 p.m.
(Tuesdays: closed after 2 p.m. Open as usual on public holidays). Ruins of St Paul’s: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., no admission after 5:30 p.m.
12.Our Lady of Sorrows Church
This small church was built in 1966 to serve the needs of the settlement of Ka Ho, where the families of cured lepers and a few new cases live. It has a magnificent bronze crucifix over the north door. It was created and given to Ka Ho by Italian sculptor Francisco Messima. Also associated with the building of this church is the name of another Italian sculptor, Oseo Acconci.
Address ： Estrada de Nossa Senhora de Ká Hó, Nossa Senhora Village, Coloane
To serve Macao’s small Protestant minority this chapel is appropriately situated in the cemetery where 150 British and American graves recall the days of the foreign trading and naval presence in Macao. The small stone building is sometimes called the “Morrison Chapel” in honour of Robert Morrison, a missionary who translated the Bible into Chinese, and the stained glass window contains the art picture of an open Bible with Chinese characters for “In the beginning was the Word”. On either side of the altar are plaques recalling James B. Endicott, an American trader who is buried in Hong Kong, and Henry Davies Margesson who drowned off Yokohama when returning home to England after 23 years in China.
Address ： Protestant Cemetery (beside Casa Garden)
Opening Hours ： 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
14.St. Anthony’s Church
First built of bamboo and wood before 1560, this is one of the oldest churches in Macao, also marking the site where the Jesuits set up their earliest headquarters in the city. The church was reconstructed in stone several times, while the present appearance and scale of the church dates back to 1930. Previously, members of the Portuguese community would hold wedding ceremonies there, so giving rise to the Chinese name of Fa Vong Tong (Church of Flowers).
Address ： Santo António Square
Opening Hours ： 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
15.Guia Fortress (including Guia Chapel and Lighthouse)
The fortress was built between 1622 and 1638. Inside the fortress stands Guia Chapel, originally established by Clarist nuns, who resided at the site before establishing the Convent of St. Clare. The chapel’s elaborate frescoes depict representations of both western and Chinese themes, displaying motifs of religious and mythological inspiration that are a perfect example of Macao’s multicultural dimension. Guia Lighthouse, dating from 1865, which also stands within the perimeter, is the first modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast. Guia Fortress, along with the chapel and lighthouse are symbols of Macao’s maritime, military and missionary past.
Opening Hours ：
Fortress: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Chapel: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (no photographs allowed)
Lighthouse: not open to the public
16.St. Francis Xavier Church
Built in 1951, this small attractive church is attached to an old people’ s home, near the hill of Mong-Ha. The interior is simple and tranquil with a black marble altar. High louvred shutters along the walls open onto pleasant courtyards and gardens.
Address ： No. 116 – 118 Rua de Francisco Xavier Pereira
Opening Hours ：7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.; 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
17.St. Lazarus Church
The first building on this site was the Hermitage of Our Lady of Hope, or more popularly St. Lazarus, established in 1570 to serve lepers. At the same time a settlement for lepers was built outside the old city walls. (This was transferred to D. João Island in 1882 and to Coloane in 1947, where it is today).
The present St. Lazarus was rebuilt in 1885. In the forecourt is the Cross of Hope from the original chapel.
Address ：No. 11 Adro de S. Lázaro
Opening Hours ： 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon; 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friends who like to visit churches and those who love Catholic culture and history can visit the 17 churches above when traveling to Macau!