Battle of Macau’s 400th anniversary celebrations to commence with Mass on Festa de Sao Joao

Marco Carvalho

The Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady will host a thanksgiving Mass on the 24th of June, the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, to acknowledge and commemorate “the meaning of that day for the Catholic community.” The Saint Joseph Seminary Alumni Choir will join and sing in thanksgiving.

The feast day of the patron saint of Macau has an even greater relevance this year due to the commemoration of the quatercentennial anniversary of the ‘Battle of Macau’, fought in June 1622.

In addition to the Mass, the quatercentenary of the Dutch invasion of Macau will also be celebrated in the coming weeks with lectures and conferences, a cultural soirée and a new philatelic issue honoring the far-reaching, historical devotion that Saint John the Baptist enjoys in Macau. Also as part of the celebrations, the Identity Award, created by the International Institute of Macau, will be shared by Macanese historian Manuel Basílio and the local folklore group Macau no Coração. Starting from September, members of the Institute and of the Macau Heritage Ambassadors Association will visit several local schools and universities so that the younger generations can become aware of the importance of the ‘Battle of Macau’.

Conceived by the International Institute of Macau (IIM), the initiative to commemorate the quatercentennial anniversary of the Dutch invasion of Macau has the support of various other associations, both in Macau and in the diaspora. Among the organizations that joined the effort is the Council of Macanese Communities, the Macau Heritage Ambassadors Association and the Cardinal Newman Center of Culture and Performing Arts.

Located at Calçada da Vitória, the venue will host in early July a conference on the historical importance of the devotion to Saint John the Baptist. “On the 3rd of July, there will be a lecture by Mrs. Flora Chan at the Cardinal Newman Center on the importance of Saint John the Baptist’s feast in Macau and the origin of the Saint John’s street fair,” the secretary-general of the International Institute of Macau, Rufino Ramos, announced earlier this week.

“From now until the end of the year, the Institute, the Heritage Ambassadors Association and the Macau Youth Association will organize lectures at local schools and universities. We are already in contact with the Education and Youth Development Bureau. Our wish is that young people may be able to carry this message of celebrating this important event to posterity,” Mr. Ramos added.

The program to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Macau’ kicks off with a lecture on Rui Cunha Foundation, which will feature the virtual presence of historian Beatriz Basto da Silva. On June 25th, the International Institute of Macau headquarters’ will host a cultural soirée with Portuguese folk dances and original songs sung in Patuá (a local endangered language) and a mini-concert by Giulio Acconci, a former member of rock-duo Soler.

Fought four hundred years ago between the small Portuguese military garrison of Macau and Dutch naval forces, the ‘Battle of Macau’ guaranteed the continuity of the Portuguese presence in South China. Despite being outnumbered and lacking adequate fortifications, the Portuguese managed to repel the invading forces on the 24th of June – Saint John’s day – after three days of fighting.

[ Image: Battle of Macau, 21-24 June 1622. Portuguese repel Dutch attack. Harbour of Macau (“Makou”). Dutch war ship firing cannons. Tower on a hill firing cannons. The image is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. Author: Jacob van Meurs  (1619–1679). Source: Wikimedia Commons]