St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church

Rua do Seminario, Macau

Church: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church:

Established in the year 1728, St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Church, along with St. Paul’s College, were key elements in the missionary work done by Christians intent on establishing a religious base in the Far East. This was the central hub for almost all missionary work done in China, Japan, and throughout this region of Asia, Macau especially. It’s establishment and the academic curriculum taught at the Seminary, were a foundation for the historical raising of many churches of historic and cultural value throughout Macau and the rest of Asia. This is an exemplary model of baroque architecture in China, and one of the first structures of this style to be built in Asia. It’s significance to both the Christian community and the establishment of Portuguese culture throughout Macau through the spread of religion is what makes this structure so significant to the history of Macau.




All credit for these photos goes to NekoTank on Flickr

Address: Rua do Seminário
Opening hours: Church: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Bus routes nearby: 9, 16, 18, 28B
Admission: Free to the Public (Seminary not open to the public)

History of St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church:

St. Josephs Seminary and Church together with St. Paul’s College were established in 1728 and built in 1758, the old seminary, together with St. Paul’s College, was the principal base for the missionary work implemented in China, Japan and around the region at the time. This church and the ruins of St. Paul’s are the only examples of baroque architecture in China. A piece of bone from the arm of St. Francis Xavier, that once belonged to the collection of the Church of Mater Dei (the Ruins of St. Paul’s) is one of Macau’s most precious religious relics and lies on one of the later altars of the church. St. Joseph’s Seminary taught an academic curriculum equivalent to that of a university. In 1800 the Portuguese Queen Dona Maria I conferred the royal title of “House of the Mission Congregation” unto the church.

Architecture of St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church:

The Church facade is 19 meters tall at its highest point and 27 meters wide. A broken arch, typical of baroque architecture, tops the entrance of the church. The curved pediment portrays a Jesuit insignia at the center. It’s facade is best characterized by molded plaster relief, and accentuated in white against a plain wall of yellow rendition. The Church is laid out in a Latin cross. The three altars are elaborately decorated, using pediments supported on two sets of four spiral columns decorated with gold-leaf motifs. It is quite beautiful to take in.

In stark contrast to the detailed architecture of St. Joseph’s Church, the Seminary is very simply designed, a neoclassical compound designed with an internal cloister garden. It was constructed mostly of grey brick, with solid walls set on granite foundations. The arrangement inside the building is organized with wide corridors as long as 80 meters in length with classroom entrances along them.

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