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Ruins of Saint Paul's

Coordinates: 22°11′51″N 113°32′26″E / 22.19750°N 113.54056°E / 22.19750; 113.54056
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(Redirected from St Paul's Cathedral (Macau))
Ruins of Saint Paul's
LocationSanto António, Macau, China
Coordinates22°11′51″N 113°32′26″E / 22.19750°N 113.54056°E / 22.19750; 113.54056
Height26 metres
FormedGranite, Masonry, Bronze
FounderAlessandro Valignano SJ
Built forCatholic Church
Original useCatholic Church
Architectural style(s)Baroque
Governing bodyMacau Cultural Bureau
Ruins of Saint Paul's
Chinese name
Portuguese name
PortugueseRuínas de São Paulo

The Ruins of Saint Paul's (Chinese: 大三巴牌坊; Portuguese: Ruínas de São Paulo) are the ruins of a 17th-century Catholic religious complex in Santo António, Macau, China. They include what was originally St. Paul's College and the Church of St. Paul (Igreja de São Paulo) also known as "Mater Dei", a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. Today, the ruins are one of Macau's best known landmarks and one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World. In 2005, they were officially listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Built from 1602 to 1640[1] by the Jesuits, during the time in which Portugal and Spain were under the same crown, the church was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia at the time. It was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon on 26 January 1835.[1] The Fortaleza do Monte overlooks the ruin.

Virgin Mary stepping on a seven-headed hydra.

The ruins now consist of the stone frontispiece.[2]: 121  The façade sits on a small hill, with 68 stone steps leading up to it.

The façade is shaped like a retable and themed around the Assumption of Mary.[2]: 122  Likely influenced by Japanese Christian craftsmen who worked on it, the ruins of St. Paul's include carvings with heterodox images that draw from Asian traditions, including Mary stepping on a seven-headed hydra, described in accompanying Chinese characters as "Holy Mother tramples the heads of the dragon".[2]: 122  The base of the structure has six Chinese guardian lions carved from stone.[2]: 122 

The Japanese Christian craftsmen who worked on St. Paul's were converted by Jesuits and expelled from Japan in 1587 when Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned Christianity.[2]: 122 

The remains of around 250 Korean and Japanese slaves from the Portuguese slave trade are buried near the church.[3]


Resisting calls for the dangerously leaning structure to be demolished, from 1990 to 1995, the ruins were excavated under the auspices of the Instituto Cultural de Macau to study its historic past.[citation needed] The crypt and the foundations were uncovered, revealing the architectural plan of the building. Numerous religious artifacts were also found together with the relics of the Chinese Christian martyrs and the monastic clergy, including the founder of the Jesuit college in Macau, Father Alessandro Valignano.[citation needed]

The ruins were restored by the Macanese government into a museum, and the façade is now buttressed with concrete and steel in a way which preserves the aesthetic integrity of the façade.[citation needed] There was once a steel stairway that allowed tourists to climb up to the top of the façade from the rear, but due to concerns for the preservation of the church, tourists are no longer allowed to climb up.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "China". The Morning Post. British Newspaper Archive. 8 July 1835. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Simpson, Tim (2023). Betting on Macau: Casino Capitalism and China's Consumer Revolution. Globalization and Community series. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-0031-1.
  3. ^ KBS 역사추리 – 임진왜란은 노예전쟁이었다 2부 / KBS 19960913 방송, 1996-09-13, event occurs at 12:41, retrieved 2024-02-09

22°11′51″N 113°32′26″E / 22.19750°N 113.54056°E / 22.19750; 113.54056