The Dominicans in Macau
The Lady of Charity
Church of the Queen of the Holy Rosary
later of Saint Dominic


Brief description.


Macau, also spelled Macao, overseas territory of Portugal, on the southern coast of China. It is located on the western side of the Pearl River estuary, at the head of which is the Chinese port of Canton, and it stands opposite the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong, which is on the eastern side of the estuary.

It comprises a small, narrow peninsula projecting from the Chinese mainland sheng (province) of Kwangtung and includes the islands of Taipa and Coloane, with a total area of 17 square km. The city of Macau occupies almost the entire peninsula. The name is derived from the Chinese A-mangao, or "Bay of the Goddess A-ma," for A-ma, the patroness of sailors.


The Portuguese established the city Macau in 1557 to be also a bastion of Christianity. The first priests started to build Catholic churches, initially of wood and matting, soon of rammed clay, and later of stone and plaster from the middle7th century onwards.


Macau 1982, Mi 494, Sc 467. Maximum card.


Most Catholic churches were built by the Jesuits and the monastic orders, often with funds of the city and the Portuguese Crown. After the Augustinians the Spanish Dominicans wanted to do missionary work in China, because the Chinese government gave the Portuguese the right to build a trade-centre in Macau in 1557.

Three Spanish Dominicans sailed from Acapulco (Mexico) to Macau in 1586 and were housed by the Augustinians. On other group of Dominicans sailed from Mexico to China on April 3, 1587, and arrived, after many troubles, at Macau on September 1, 1587.

They got some houses as a priory on 23 October 1587. But on March 1588 they had to leave Macau to go to Goa, and Portuguese Dominicans took over the houses to build a priory and started the first church of Saint Dominic (1590) in baroque Filipino style on the St. Dominic's Square in Macau.

A new structure made of brick was put up in the 17th century, and after a fire in 1874, it was rebuilt and expanded to its present scale.

The church is also known as the 'Church of Our lady of the Rosary'. After 1929 , the church was dedicated to 'Our Lady of Fatima'.


Construction characteristics: The emblems of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Dominic are carved on to the top of the church’s façade. The main façade is divided vertically into three parts by columns of different styles, separating the windows and doors, and is crowned by a triangular pediment.

In the interior, the high wide nave is separated from the two side-aisles by arches. An archway divides the main nave from the main altar and in each side-aisle there is a small altar.
Next to it was the priory. Originally built in wood it was rebuilt in 1828.






The postal tax stamp shows the Lady of Charity
(Schutzmantelmadonna) by an anonimous (Portugese ?)


Macau 1961-1963, Mi (postal tax) 22, Sc RA17.

The St. Dominic's church was the decor of a tragic event in 1644, when a Portuguese soldier protested against the independence of Portugal from Spain and made the people wild. He fled into the church where a mass was celebrated, and was beaten to death on the altar.
In 1707 the Dominicans of the priory refused the order of the Pope to condemn the Chinese forefathers-cult. The Dominican bishop of Macao, Joao de Casal, supported them and the pope was intend on excommunicating him and the Dominicans. Thereupon the Dominicans locked themselves up in the church for three days, while soldiers had to take them out. After three days they capitulated. In 1834 the church was used by the government for barracks and stables


During the renovation, 1996-1997, saint's figure, frontal, and vestments were found in old wardrobes and now exposed in the belfry to the right of the church.

Source: Inge Jansen and Karin Schaedtler: China 8.
H.Gottmer; J. Becht, Haarlem 2005, p.407-409.

Macau 1983, Mi 502, Sc 474. Maximum card.







Macau 19-- airmail letter, Church of Saint Dominic.


Ruo di Santo Domingos in Macau with the church of Saint Dominic.
Macau 2006, Mi 1471, Sc


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