Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady (Catedral Igreja da Sé)

Igreja da Sé 澳門主教座堂(大堂/聖母聖誕堂), 大堂前地, 澳門


The Macau Cathedral (Catedral Igreja da Sé):

The Cathedral is located on Cathedral Square in the central Macau Peninsula. The Cathedral Igreja da Sé of Macau, is known locally by several varying translated titles – The Church of the Birth of Virgin Mary, The Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, The Macau Cathedral (for its modern significance), The Great Cathedral, and the Portuguese Catedral Igreja da Sé.

It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Jesus Christ, and serves as the second largest parish in Macau, including Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, the South Bay, and Terminal Marítimo. The Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady also known as the Igreja da Sé is the current cathedral of the Diocese of Macau. The cathedral is included in the list of historical monuments of the Historic Center of Macau, which in turn is included in the list of World Heritage Sites in China.

It is a sight of great significance to practicing Catholics in Asia and a central part of the history of Catholicism in Macau which once held a heavy presence throughout the region. Every year the Cathedral sees hundreds of Catholics make pilgrimage to Macau to participate in the Way of the Cross ceremony in which the Crucifix held at St. Augustine’s Church is brought to the Church and the following day it is brought back in an annual ceremony resembling a parade of great significance to those of the Catholic faith in Asia.

Tourist and Mass Information:

On the first weekend of Lent in an annual festival held here at the Cathedral, the Stations of the Cross enshrined in St. Augustine Church are paraded tot he Cathedral and exhibited here for one day. It is one of the most significant religions ceremonies held in Macau and is known as the Way of the Cross Procession. The ceremony goes on for two days and sees many Catholics of Asia make pilgrimage to Macau to participate, it is on the second day that the Stations of the Cross are then brought back to St. Augustine’s Church.

Time for Mass and Rites:

  1. Sunday Mass:
    • 7:30, 9:00 in Cantonese
    • 11:00 in Portuguese
    • 18:30 in English
    • The first Sunday of every month: 15:30 in Latin
    • Saturday Mass: 18:00 in English
  2. Weekday Masses:
    • 7:30, 8:00 in Cantonese
    • 18:00 in Portuguese

Transportation by Bus:

  1. Take bus No. 3, 3A, 8A, 10, 10A, 10B, 11, 21A, 26A, 33 and get off at Avenida do Infante D. Henrique Station, and then walk to Macau Cathedral.
  2. Take bus No. 4, 6A and get off at Avenida de D. João IV Station.
  3. Take bus No. 16 and get off at Avenida da Praia Grande Station (Times Business Center Station).

There is no Admission to enter the Cathedral or attend mass of course.

History of The Cathedral Igreja da Sé:

It was originally a small wooden chapel constructed in 1576. It saw heavy upgrades when it was reconstructed out of stone in 1623. Some refer to it as the ‘Great Church’, despite its relatively small size, due to its prominent influence in Macau and the number of converts attributed to its presence in the 17th century. Even today whenever the local Catholics hold any major celebrations or ceremonies, they are held in this Cathedral, showing its significance to the Catholic people of Macau.

After its upgrade to a stone cathedral in 1623 it was designated the place where the Diocese would be held. Prior to this upgrade the Diocese was held in the St. Lazarus Church. The first cathedral built in stone had a major extension added on in 1849 and a year later it was consecrated by the Bishop of Macau at the time Jeronimo Jose da Mata in 1850. The Cathedral was almost completely annihilated by a typhoon 24 years after the consecration but survived after undergoing major repairs. The cathedral was completely reconstructed out of concrete once again in 1937 and it is this rendition of the Cathedral which stands to this day.

A notable feature of this Cathedral however, is that buried beneath the altar are those past bishops and devotees, who bring glory to the Church according to those of faith. Some restored Catholic relics and monuments call this place home. Famous religious paintings have also been preserved on the Cathedrals walls, among these are St. John’s Baptism Painting, and the Japanese Catholics Crucified in Nagasaki. The most ancient wing of the transept holds a wooden vault with the Duteous Madonna Enshrined within it.

In the adjacent bell tower there is a bell originally crafted in Britain that bares significant value to events of the Cathedral. Whenever important Masses, Feast Days, or Weddings are held at the Cathedral, the Bell rings out across Cathedral Square. It was last rung on April 6th, 2005 mourning the death of Santus Ioannes Paulus PP. II (John Paul II).

Architecture of The Cathedral Igreja da Sé:

This final rendition from 1937 as it stands to this day still maintains its visage with minor damages over the years, all of which have seen repairs to its original state. The Cathedral boasts a rather spectacular facade, as visitors arrive at the steps of the Cathedral after passing a small fountain they will encounter a cross on the square in front of the structures entrance.

The Cathedral consists of a main building and an accompanying Bell Tower. The Bell Tower adjacent to the main Cathedral structure stands at roughly 13 meters high, and has three floors with a flat roof. The main structure is just a single floor building, with a sloping roof and a single wooden truss. This symmetrical neoclassical facade stands at 12 meters tall, and this neoclassical structure is seen throughout the rest of the construction.

The main body of the Cathedral bares an oblong shape, with a transept accompanied by chapels on each side. Wooden Portuguese folding screens are found at the entrance to the Cathedral. The interior of the Cathedral bares a light green color, and it’s decor on the main shrine essentially maintains the original reconstructed details and adornments of its 1937 repairs, majestic and detailed in their own right. The main altar of the church bares a simple design, it has only simple stained glass windows in the background.

Adjacent to the Cathedral on its right flank stands the Bishop’s Mansion; it is home to the highest rankings in the administrative department of Catholic Affairs in Macau.

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