Situated near Rua de S. Domingos, the Cathedral is located on the top of the nearby paved hill. Here, Midnight Mass is held at Christmas and the Procession of the Passion of Our Lord is enacted every year. Next to the Cathedral stands the timelessly beautiful Bishop's Palace. Although the Cathedral is not the biggest church in Macau, it is certainly one of the grandest.
In 1575, the Catholic church was established in Macau - named the City of the Name of God - and promptly became the centre of Catholicism in Asia. In 1576, the Cathedral was built and many important relics of the 16th & 17th Century are stored here.
The Cathedral square has recently been refurbished, and an imposing fountain added, providing a convenient spot for residents and visitors to relax in comfort. Less than 2 minutes walk from the Cathedral lie the major thoroughfares of Rua de S. Domingos, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro and Avenida de Praia Grande.
Standing on the site of a chapel and convent built by the Dominicans in the 1590's St. Dominic's Church dates from the early 17th century. It has an imposing facade of cream-coloured stone with white stucco mouldings and green-shutted windows. Inside, white pillars support a flat ceiling and apron balconies trim the walls. The great baroque altar contains a cream and white statue of the Virgin and Child and a painting of Christ. The church has a fine collection of exquisitely-carved ivory and wood saints.
St. Dominic's Church has a violently dramatic past. In 1644 a military officer who supported the Spanish against the Portuguese was murdered at the altar during Mass. In 1707 the Dominicans sided with the Pope against Macau's bishop in the Rites Controversy. When local soldiers tried to enforce an excommunication order on them, the friars locked themselves in the church for three days and pelted the soldiers with stones. In 1834 the monastic orders were suppressed and for a time the church was used by the government as barracks, stable and public works office.
St. Dominic's Church was renovated in 1997 and opened to the public with a museum, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor. The museum shows paintings, sculptures and liturgical ornaments that illustrate the history of the Roman Catholic church in Asia.
All that remains of the greatest of Macau's churches is its magnificent stone facade and grand staircase. The church was built in 1602 adjoining the Jesuit College of St. Paul's, the first Western college in the Far East where missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Adam Schall studied Chinese before serving at the Ming Court in Beijing as astronomers and mathematicians. The church, made of taipa and wood, was brilliantly decorated and furnished, according to early travelers. The facade of carved stone was built in 1620-27 by Japanese Christian exiles and local craftsmen under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola.
After the expulsion of the Jesuits, the college was used as an army barracks and in 1835 a fire started in the kitchens and destroyed the college and the body of the church. The surviving facade rised in 4 colonnaded tiers, and is covered with carvings and statues which eloquently illustrate the early days of the Church in Asia. There are statues of the Virgin and saints, symbols of the Garden of Eden and the Crucifixion, angels and the devil, a Chinese dragon and a Japanese chrysanthemum, a Portuguese sailing ship and pious warnings inscribed in Chinese.
After restoration work, lasting from 1990 to 1995, the back side of the Ruins of St. Paul's was turned into a museum. The ruins are regarded as the symbol of Macau and now offer visitors a new site where they can view the remains of the former Church of the Mother of God, visit a Crypt where the relics of the Martyrs of Japan and Vietnam rest, and a museum of Sacred Art where there are exhibits of paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects from churches and monasteries in the City. Painting by unknown artist depicting the matrys of Nagasaki The crpyt contains skeletons of the matrys of Nagasaki