St. Paul’s Church And Christ Church Melaka
Header picture (top): The back of St. Paul’s Church.
St. Paul’s Church
When the Portuguese conquered Malacca 1511, they brought along with them Roman Catholicism. Needing a place to worship, a chapel was built on top of a hill (then known as Malacca Hill and renamed to Monti Ali Maria or Mary’s Hill by the Portuguese) by Portuguese nobleman and military leader and the administrator for Portuguese colony of Brazil; Duerte Coelho Pereira in 1521. The chapel was completed, consecrated, and named Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro or Our Lady of the Hill.
The interior of St. Paul’s Church on St. Paul’s Hill in Malacca.
The title deeds of the chapel then when to the Society of Jesus being received by St. Francis Xavier, from Alfonso de Albuquerque. Additional work was done on the chapel in 1556 making it larger, adding on a second floor, and in 1590 a bell tower was added. In 1592 a burial vault was built and important people were buried there. The chapel was then renamed to Igreja de Madre de Deus or Church of the Mother of God.
Left: A statue of St. Paul. Centre: The bell tower. Right: A section of the interior of St. Paul’s Church.
One famous person who was buried here at the church although temporarily was St. Francis Xavier who passed away on the 3rd of December 1552 in Shangchuan Island in China while on a missionary trip. His body was shipped here and buried temporarily before it was shipped to his final resting place in Goa, India.
Then Comes The Dutch
When the Dutch took over Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641, they not only drove them out. The Dutch also converted the Igreja de Madre de Deus or Church of the Mother of God (Roman Catholicism) to a Dutch Reform church; St. Paul’s Church. It was later called Bovernkerk (upper church) and used by the Dutch as the main parish.
Christ Church Melaka on the left. On the right is the Stadhuys built by the Dutch.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of defeating the Portuguese in Malacca, the Dutch community decided to build a new church to replace the old Bovernkerk in 1741. Works started and in 1753 the new church was completed. It then became the main Dutch Reform Church in Malacca. The old Bovernkerk was subsequently deconsecrated.
The new church was then renamed Christ Church after it was transferred to the British East India Company and was re-consecrated by Daniel Wilson, the Bishop of Calcutta (Church of England) in 1838.
Left: Christ Church Melaka is one of the main attractions. Centre: Did Android copy this for their Android logo? This door caught my eye. Right: 1753 marks the completion of the church.
The Faith Of St. Paul’s Church
Under the British, St. Paul’s Church was first used to store explosive gunpowder. Later on it was left on its own and its condition deteriorated. In 1924, the old Portuguese burial vault was uncovered and in 1930 excavation work started. The tombstones were then placed on the walls of the old church and are still standing there today.
In front of the church stands a statue that is missing a hand. This statue is that of St. Francis Xavier, the Spanish Jesuit missionary who used the church as his base for his missionary works to Maluku Island, Ambon Island, Japan, China, etc. during the Portuguese era in Malacca. The statue commemorates the 400th anniversary of his coming to Malacca. The statue is missing its right arm due to the falling of a casuarina tree that fell on it; breaking it right off.
Left: The main section of St. Paul’s Church. Centre: One of the gravestones that rests on the wall of the church. Right: More gravestones leaning on the walls of the church.
Google Maps to St. Paul’s Church.
Google Maps to Christ Church Melaka.
Malacca used to be a very important maritime hub and thus maritime museums are a must visit. The Submarine Museum in Malacca gives one the opportunity to see what the inside of an old submarine looks and feels like.
The Historical and Ethnography Museum displays a brief history of Malacca showcasing Malacca under different rules.
A cruise on the Melaka River is a relaxing experience. Melaka River snakes through a part of Malacca’s historical city making it a relaxing way to enjoy the sights.
Directed by Wang Chaoge, the more well known for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (co-director); Encore Melaka tells a story about Malacca and its history as well as a story of its people.