Religious Activity in Macau

Catholic Missionaries Set Upon Macau

Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans and Augustinians arrived in Macau to convert the populations of China and Japan.

Years:  1560 — 1749

As well as being an important trading post, Macau was a center of activity for Catholic missionaries, as it was seen as a gateway for the conversion of the vast populations of China and Japan. Jesuits had first arrived in the 1560s and built the first church -- St. Lazarus. The Jesuits were followed by Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians in the 1580s. These orders soon set about constructing churches and schools, the most notable of which were the Jesuit Cathedral of Saint Paul and the St. Dominic’s Church built by the Dominicans.

Other notable houses of worship included churches attached to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia and the Santa Clara Convent. A beautiful church was built next to the Seminário de São José where Christians were trained for missionary service in China.

The Seminary of Nossa Senhora do Amparo was razed to the ground in 1749 at the insistence of the Casa Branca Mandarin. Another lovely chapel adorned the Senate. In 1576, Macau was established as an Episcopal See by Pope Gregory XIII with Melchior Carneiro appointed as the first Bishop. In total, there were eleven churches in Macau in the 17th century, providing services for a European population of not more than 1,000 parishioners.

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