São Domingos Church, vibrant once again

Rev Leonard Dollentas

On Sunday, November 1, the church of São Domingos, to the surprise of passers-by, was suddenly packed with Mass goers. The resounding sound of the Gloria being sung by the choir echoed down the alleys of Leal Senado.  São Domingos had accommodated the faithful of the cathedral for their religious services as the cathedral will be closed for some months for the needed renovations.

Regular parishioners have found São Domingos a lot different from the way they used to attend church at the Cathedral.  Some old folks were not so happy about not finding their favorite saints at São Domingos.  To take part in the adoration, which is now situated behind the altar area, parishioners have to enter the sacristy and enter the small door at the left side of the sacristy which leads to the sanctuary where the space for adoration is located.

Likewise, for the convenience of those going for confessions, the confessionals are situated in the sanctuary area. The church is equipped with an air-conditioning system to provide comfort and a more solemn prayerful atmosphere to the churchgoers during the Masses. 

The regular pandemic protective routines are still observed: everyone is required to have a facemask, required to have their hands sanitized by one of the guards, and are required to maintain social distancing.

São Domingos Church is a Baroque style church located in Largo de São Domingos. It is a sanctuary and a place to offer prayers to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Founded in the late 16th century by the Spanish Dominican friars who arrived in Macau from the Philippines in 1587, the church is one of the 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that form the Historic Center of Macau.

After its recent renovation, the São Domingos is even more stunning with its Baroque style design. Its noted mixture of European and local Macanese features has acquired more splendor after it was painted inside and refurbished.  

Its doors made of teak, a durable timber used in shipbuilding, stand ready to welcome the number of people from the cathedral in the coming months.

The church’s high altar features a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary – the Madonna and Child – as the centerpiece and is flanked by wood and ivory-carved statues of St Dominic, the founder of the Dominicans and St Catharine of Siena, a lay Dominican and doctor of the Church.

A tourist spot and a museum for several years, the Church of São Domingos has again reacquired its main purpose: a place to worship God in spirit and in truth and a holy dwelling for the celebration of the sacraments, and especially the celebration of the Holy Masses that nourishes the weary souls of the people of Macau.

The schedule of the English Masses celebrated in the Cathedral will be retained at São Domingos: for Tuesdays and Thursdays 7:45 PM and for Sundays 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM. (Photo: Fr Leonard Dollentas)

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