Saint Anthony’s Church

Saint Anthony’s Church

Macao, Macau, China

Religious Architecture

Saint Anthony of Lisbon’s Church is one of the oldest in Macau. Its origin was a small chapel built between 1558 and 1560 with poor materials and thatch, like all the churches that the Jesuits erected at that time. It was not built on the present site and its appearance has been much altered, even in relation to what we might call the second construction. Documents prove that a new church was begun in 1638 with a definite design, but this was consumed by a great fire in 1809. Reconstruction started the following year.
A typhoon caused more damage in 1874, starting a fire that not only destroyed the church but the registry, the priests’ residence and other annexes. Reconstruction work began immediately, but other works in the 20th century gave it the appearance that has come down to our days, namely those carried out in 1930 and later, between 1951 and 1953.
The volume the church has today is the same as that of the beginning of the 20th century, but the door and window frames are different, pediments having been placed above and balustrades in the windows of the upper floor, thus doing away with the classical frieze and its metopes and triglyphs. The doors on the ground floor received the same treatment, the middle one getting a new, curved pediment decorated with a small garland and an inverted shell between small volutes. The bell tower was faced with the same material as the façade, whereas before it had been plastered. The lower part was adjoined to the façade and with the same type of construction.
The interior may be the same as the seventeenth-century church. It has a single nave with a convex, wooden ceiling of bright colours and a rectangular, shallow chancel that leads to the sacristy. Two chapel arches that once had altars flank the crossing arch. The body of the church is decorated with stucco elements around the doors, windows and niches, which was the taste in Macau in the middle of the 19th century. There is a deeper chapel on the left hand side, while on the right two doors communicate with a long room that is the same width as the bell tower and which once must have been an open arcade similar to those in Saint Lawrence’s and Saint Dominic’s.

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