Macau Churches (South)

When the Portuguese founded Macau around 1557, some of the first buildings that went up were churches.  There was hardly a street that didn’t have one, and some have even survived to the present day.

Macau’s churches are largely European baroque in style, but tropical and Oriental features also exist, most notably the Chinese style tiled roofs and Eastern themes on some of the facades.

There are currently 19 churches in the city, with 9 of them receiving special UNESCO World Heritage distinction.  (See them here: World Heritage.)

The rest are listed below and in the following two pages: Macau Northern Churches and Taipa and Coloane Churches.

Macau Churches: Chapel of Saint James

(Pousada de Sao Tiago)

This small chapel was built inside Barra Fort in 1740.  St. James was the military protector of Macau, and he would often go on long patrols around the city, sometimes getting his boots dirty.

Macau Churches: Chapel of Saint James

Soldiers were then assigned the task of washing the boots on the statue daily.  One time, after a lazy soldier forgot to do it, he received a blow to the head from the statue’s sword.

Chapel of Saint James Macau

St. James Chapel is located in the Pousada de Santiago, one of Macau’s most well appointed hotels. 

Chapel of Saint James main altar

For details of my stay there, please follow the link to Trip Report II.


Macau Churches: St. Lazarus Church

(St. Lazarus District)

Macau Churches: St. Lazarus Church

This site was the original home of the Hermitage of Our Lady of Hope, which was established to help and serve lepers in 1570.

St. Lazarus Church interior

In 1885 the Hermitage was rebuilt into the Church you see today.

St. Lazarus Church main altar St. Lazarus Church Virgin Mary

As for the lepers, they were moved down to the remote Ka Ho Village in Coloane.

St. Lazarus Church pews and doors

It’s possible that you’ll need some luck to enter this church.  Despite what the opening hours might say, I often see the doors closed.

Opening Hours: 8:30 am to 12:00 pm & 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Macau Churches: Penha Church

(Penha Hill)

I’ve always conceived of Penha Church as the guardian of Macau, as its sits on stately Barra Hill, overlooking the Praia Grande.

Macau Churches: Penha Church

It was built off the donation made by the crew of the S. Barhollemeu, a trading vessel that narrowly avoided Dutch capture in 1620.  While en route to Japan, they found themselves in hostile waters, outnumbered 4 to 1 by enemy ships intent on seizing it and all of the silk in her hold. 

Penha Church Macau side view with steps Penha Church Macau statue and steps 

At this moment of truth, the 17 crew members decided they needed divine intervention from Our Lady of Penha de France, and if she were to save them, they would donate 1% of the earnings from the trading mission and build a Church in her name once they returned to Macau.

Penha Church stairs and shrine

(I always find that hilarious.  Facing sure ruin if not certain death, they found it in their hearts to cut Our Lady of Penha in for 1 percent.  One freaking percent!!  Always the businessmen, always the bottom line!!) 

Penha Church interior

Anyway, the good Lady liked the deal a lot better that I do, and she helped them evade the Dutch envoy and make it to safe waters.  Penha Church was completed in 1622, and it became the custom of Portuguese sailors to visit it before and after dangerous journeys.

The current construction of the Church dates back to 1935.  Every year on May 17, the Our Lady of Fatima Procession concludes at Cathedral.

Penha Church pews and priest

Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Macau Church Locations

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