Macau

Ruins of St. Paul’s

All that remains of St. Paul’s Cathedral, once considered the finest Christian building in the Far East, is its imposing Renaissance façade, a Macau landmark standing at the top of a broad flight of granite steps. After the destruction of the first church by fire in 1601, a new one was completed in 1637, modeled on the church of the Gesù in Rome and constructed by Christians driven out of Japan. The church was destroyed by a typhoon and fire in 1835, but its remaining façade still displays a little of the cathedral’s former glory.

Notable features include an inscription above the doorway dedicating the church to the Mother of God; figures of Jesuit saints; and a profusion of relief ornaments, ranging from a figure of the Virgin Mary to dragons, skeletons, and a variety of motifs, both European and Asian. Also of interest are reliefs of biblical scenes including the Fall and the Crucifixion. Another Christian site worth visiting is the Igreja da Sé – the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady – a lovely basilica-style cathedral built in 1850 and reconstructed in 1938. Highlights include a shrine above the chapel holding the relics of Japanese martyrs who died during the persecution of Christians in the early 17th century.