The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St Anthony of Padua (Santo António de Pádua, 1195-1231) on June 13th every year. Being the favorite saint of the Portuguese, St Anthony was the patron saint of Macau until the seventeenth century. St Anthony of Padua is particularly venerated among Portuguese-speaking communities around the world. In Macau, St Anthony’s Parish celebrates the feast of St Anthony of Padua every year, followby the traditional procession since the early nineteenth century.
Church of St Anthony First built of bamboo and wood prior to 1560, the Church of St. Anthony is one of the oldest churches in Macau. The church was reconstructed in stone several times. The current stone building structure dates back from the reconstruction in 1638, while the the façade and the tower were renovated in 1930, by José da Costa Nunes (1880-1976) and Artur Tamagnini de Sousa Barbosa (1880-1940), Bishop of Macau and the Governor of Macau respectively.
The Origin of the Procession On September 22, 1874, the church was hit by lightning due to the typhoon. The fire engulfed the church compound. It was for this reason that the fishermen on the sea could find their way back to the shore because of the blazing fire, and thus, survived. Since then, every year the Macao citizens would marched on the streets carrying the statue of St. Anthony to commemorate this incident. The procession departs from the church and circles around the Praça de Camões.
The ‘Gardener’s Church’ The Church of St Anthony in Macau is locally known as the ‘Gardener’s Church’, with its name associated with the floral wreaths that were used in weddings. St Anthony is known as the ‘marriage saint’ in the Portuguese-speaking world. Thus, the churches that are dedicated to St Anthony became popular venues for weddings. It was for this reason that the Church of St Anthony was a popular venue to hold the weddings for the Macanese community since its establishment in sixteenth century.
St Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
【Source】O Clarim, "Macau Church Heritage – Church of Saint Anthony"
【Photography】Ivan Leong ©️ O Clarim