Churches in Macau

Immediately after arriving to Macau, the first priests started to build Catholic churches. Initially, the churches were built of wood, mud, bamboo, straw mats and clay. From the mid-seventeenth century, stone, brick, mortar and other more modern materials (eg. concrete) ended up becoming the most common materials of construction. Mainly due to damage by fire or typhoons, many of the churches were targeted for amplification, repair or reconstruction, such as the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, in 1935.

The ancient Catholic churches of Macau were dedicated either to the Blessed Virgin Mary or to popular saints. Most of them were initially built by religious orders, but have been restored or rebuilt after fires and tropical storms have taken their toll.

Many of the churches are still fully functional and Masses are celebrated every day in most of them. The schedules are posted on the churches doors.

 

Our Lady of Penha Church

The Chapel Our Lady of Penha is located at the top of Penha Hill.

Penha hill

Penha hill

The place was donated by the Senado to the Augustinians for the construction of a church dedicated to “Our Lady of Penha of France”, the navigator’s protector. It is said that the purpose for promoting the chapel foundation was related to an appreciation to The Holy Virgin Mary for Her help in a narrowly escape of a Portuguese ship from Dutch raiders.

The chapel was built in 1622 over the bulwark of Our Lady of Good Birth. It was property of the Augustinians until their expulsion in 1834, in consequence of the liberalism period in Portugal. In 1837 it was reconstructed, along with the Bishop’s Residence, alongside the church, and, in 1935, almost completely rebuild.

For many years, the chapel served as shrine for sailors embarking on often hazardous voyages.

Our Lady of Penha Church on the Penha hill

Our Lady of Penha Church – Penha hill

On the large open courtyard fronting the chapel is a marble image of Our Lady of Lourdes facing Macau and China. It is said to be praying for both lands. Close to it, down the steps of a staircase in the hillside, also facing Macau and China, there is a picturesque grotto with a smaller image of, again, Our Lady of Lourdes.

Both images were put in place as a consequence of the fiftieth anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady in Lourdes, which happened in 1858.

Every year, on the 13th of May, thousand of faithful joins the image of Our Lady of Fatima for a pilgrimage and procession. It begins in St. Domingo Church, meanders through the streets of Macau, and finally ends in Penha Church. The devotees come from all over to accompany Our Lady of Fatima. Leading the procession, three children, dressed as the three children who saw and heard Blessed Mary in Portugal, back in 1917.

 

 

Visits to Penha

The entrance to the area surrounding the chapel – with the courtyard and the grotto – is opened daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm; the chapel is also opened daily, but from 9:30 am to 4.00 pm.

In the courtyard, one can afford views of Macau city and Taipa, the inner harbour, the bridges to Taipa, nearby towns in China and Chinese Hengqin island, with all its new constructions. Among the architecture, one can see from here the Chief Executive’s Palace, other colonial residences, the Macau Tower, and the man-made lakes. On the level along the grotto, facing Taipa, there is a nice public garden with fountains, seating and children’s playground.

You can participate in the Holy Eucharist with us on Saturdays, 8 am, and Sundays, 9.15 am. In English. Visit here our complete daily schedule.