Thursday, October 7, 2010

Heritage Sites of Macau-St Dominic's Church

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.

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