The Presence of the Spanish Dominican in Macau

Saint Dominic’s Church (Chinese: 板樟堂; Portuguese: Igreja de São Domingos) is a late 16th-century Baroque-style church that serves within the Cathedral Parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau. It is located in the peninsular part of the city at the Largo de São Domingos, situated near the Leal Senado Building.

The construction of the church was finished in 1587 and was overseen by three Spanish Dominican priests. Due to renovations and reconstruction, the current structure dates back to the early 17th century. The church is listed as one of the 29 sites that form the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritag

Saint Dominic’s Priory, Macau

Three of the founding Fathers of the Province led by Fray Antonio de Arcediano OP took patache San Martin from  Acapulco to Macau on 3 April 1587 hoping to enter China as soon as possible. after suffering shipwreck near the Chinese coast, they finally arrive in the Portuguese enclave on 1 September of the same year. The Lord provisor of the Diocese advocates his own house for the future convent and Church of the Friars under the advocate of Sancta Maria de Rosario. The Friars accepted the donation on 16 October 1587. The foundation was accepted during the first provincial chapter in 1588 making it the second oldest foundation after the Mother House of Santo Domingo Priory of Manila. By March of 1588, the Friars revived an order from the Portuguese viceroy of Goa sending the Spanish friars into exile to India and the property confiscated.

Despite diplomatic and ecclesiastical representations to recuperate the foundation on behalf of the province, leading to a decision of the general chapter of the order in 1612, the property was not returned, and instead, the Portuguese Dominicans from Goa were asked to assume the Macau Foundation. The Portuguese Dominican maintained the presence in Macau until the suppression of the religious orders in the beginning of the XIX century. The Dominican community also became an important link between Macau and the Missions in Timor- Leste. During this period, despite official animosity against the Spanish missionaries, the Portuguese friars welcomes theirs confreres fleeing persecutions from mainland China. When the procuration of the missions in Guangzhou could not continue, the friars had to organize the procuration in the enclave to facilitate the sending material assistance to the missions in China and Tunkin. The presence of the Spanish Dominicans came to an end in 1860 when it was decided that the procuration be moved to Hong Kong. Though there would no permanent presence of the order in Macau until the end of the XX century, Macau had always welcomed the friars in times of wars and crisis.

In 1898, the friars sought refuge in Macau during the Philippines revolution and in 1945 during the liberation of Hong Kong by the end of World War II. After the communist liberation of China, which ended in 1949, Macau received the Spanish Dominican Sisters in 1953 and they fled the mainland. These sisters maintained a very important Dominican presence in the Diocese for their social and education ministry. As early as 1993, the Dominican friars initiated the plan to have a presence in Macau and a community was established in 1995. The house under the name of São Domingos’ evoking the old and glorious foundation of the past, was canonically erected on 3 May 1996. The community of friars assumed the work of the administration of the Diocesan school “São Paolo” and collaborate in the pastoral ministries of the Diocese.

With the resurgence of Asian vocations, the Province decided to establish the students’ community and formation house in Macau in conjugation with the organization of the Faculty of Theology at the IIUM (now the University of Saint Joseph). Thus the information house was organized in 2006. The house was later raised as a Priory on 7 October 2008. In 2010, the Saint Dominic’s Center of studies or the Provincial Studium was canonically established at the Priory to further promote the intellectual foundation of our vocations.