St. Paul's Church Ruins, Melaka
Built by a Portuguese Captain (Duarte Coelho) in 1521 and name it 'Our Lady of the Hill'. The chapel was turned by the Dutch into a burial ground for their noble dead. It was later renamed 'St. Paul's Church. by the British.
St. Francis Xavier was briefly enshrined in the open grave in 1553 before being shipped to Goa, India.
This church was built by the Portuguese in 1521 and was the one time burial place of St Francis Xavier before the body was moved to Goa. After the Dutch took over they converted the building to a fortress.
Built in 1521, being a catholic, this place is interesting to me especially when I’ve learned that a saint, St. Francis Xavier was buried here in 1553 before his body was transferred to Goa in India. Upon getting inside the church, surprisingly; I discovered that there were tombs with inscriptions arranged by groups, maybe by families.
On top of the hill in Melaka you will find the ruins of this almost 500 year old church. It was built by the a Portuguese captain in 1521, but was soon taken over by the Dutch and later by the English, since the Dutch built a church of their own down the hill called Christ Church. Nowadays not more remains of the church then ruins. In front of the churh is a statue of St. Francis Xavier who regularly visited the church. Along the walls of the interior of the church you can see some beautiful tomb stones.
From Bukit Saint Paul the view reaches out to the Straits of Melacca. It is here that stand the ruins of the ancient Portuguese fortress. Well, actually of Saint Paul's Church, for this is the only building that has remained of the entire complex.
This is the oldest church in town, built by the Portuguese on top of the hill, and is nowadays in a ruinous condition, but since it is consolidated, both the interior and the exterior can be visited.
It is said that Saint Francis Xavier's body was brought here to be buried for a certain time before it was taken to Goa, in India, where it rests today. That is the reason why there is a statue of him in front of the church.
It's quite a hike up the hill, especially in Melaka's suffocating humidity, but the view is very nice and the history is impressive. St. Francis Xavier visited here and his body buried here for a while before being transferred to Goa, India.
Of interest are the tombstones leaning up against the inner walls, written in Armenian and Dutch from the 16th century.
An interesting sight with an even more interesting history. The site was originally built in 1521 by Duarte Coelho in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life in the South China Sea. It was originally known as the "Chapel of the Annunciation". In 1548 the Archbishop of Goa in India handed over the church to the Jesuits, who proceeded to renovate it beginning in 1566.
St.Francis Xavier was the one who received the title deeds on behalf of the Society. He preached at the church and was responsible for several "miracles". The most spectacular event, with historical evidence, was the announcement of a victory of a naval battle, which was taking place. He stopped preaching and asked the people to pray for the successful outcome of the battle and then he announced the victory. The battle took place at the estuary of the river Perlis in the north of Malaya.
When St. Francis Xavier passed away in 1553, his body was put to rest in the chapel. His body was subsequently moved to Goa, India. A small burial vault was opened in 1592, in the middle of the sanctuary, to mark his burial place. The Dutch summarily made the church a graveyard for their noble dead and eventually it became part of a fortress when the church was abandoned. Today, the abandoned church shares great views of the Straits of Malacca with a statue of St. Francis Xavier.
Build by a Portuguese sea captain, the church was turned into a burial ground by the Dutch for their noble dead. The Statue of St Francis Xavier with cutted right hand is standing infront of the church.
From here we also can see the Malacca city till the beach...
in 1521, Duarto Coelho built this chapel and named it "Our Lady of the Hill". This chapel was frequently visited by St Francis Xiaver and after his death, his body was buried here for nine months before being transferred to Goa in India. In 1550s, it was handed to "Society of Jesus" and was renamed, Annunciation. When the Dutch took over from the Portuguese, they renamed in St. Paul's Church. They used it for 112 years till Christ Church was built. When the British took over, they used for storage of gunpowder.
It is situated above the Dutch House / Stadhuys area. Not very steep and once you are up there, you will get a nice view of Melaka Raya. The ruins are photogenic and very photographed, but not as much as the area at the foot of the hill.
Go up there for a nice afternoon breeze.
Originally, it was a chapel, known to the early Portuguese in Malacca as the Chapel of the Mother of God (Madre de Deus) or Our Lady of the Hill (Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro). It was built by Duarte Coelho, in 1521, as a result of a miraculous escape from an attack on his ship by a fleet in the South China Sea. Duarte Coelho and his crew were saved miraculously by a storm, which suddenly arose during the height of the attack. As a token of his gratitude, he erected, on the top of this hill, a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, according to the Portuguese chronicler, Joao de Barros of the 16th century.
In the year 1548, the chapel was given by the archbishop of Goa, Don Albuquerque to the Society of Jesus. St.Francis Xavier received the title deeds on behalf of the Society. The chapel was highly venerated by the Portuguese, as it was here, that St. Francis Xavier preached and said Mass on Sundays.
He used to pass long nights in prayer here. Often his friends and admirers used to peep through the crevices of the doors to find out what the saint was doing.
At times, he was found wrapped in ecstasy with his whole body raised above the ground.4 The same thing happened when he distributed Holy Communion. He used to administer the Sacrament on his knees, as the communion rail was low and the kneeling position seemed easier. It was in this chapel that he wrote at least five letters in the dim light of a candle.
Several extraordinary deeds were worked in the chapel or in connection with the chapel, such as the cure of Joao Fernandez, a young lad of between 15 to 18 years, son of a Portuguese father and a Javanese mother. But the most spectacular event, with abundant historical evidence, was the announcement of a victory of a naval battle, which was taking place at the time the saint was preaching.
Above A'Famosa is St. Paul's Ruins, which was once the main prayer house of Portuguese Catholics. It was built in 1521 by Portuguese captain, but now is in ruins.
Up the stairs you'll find a statue of St. Francis Xavier, a Portuguese missionary who died in 1552. This statue actually fell when a tree fell on it, and is still missing it's right hand. St. Francis Xavier was buried near here originally, but later moved to India.
Built by Portugese captain by the name of Duarte Coelho. The chapel was turned by the Dutch into a burial ground for their noble dead and renamed St. Paul's Church. St. Francis Xavier was briefly enshrined in the open grave in 1553 before being shipped to Goa, India.
What left today is only the ruins of St. Paul's Church. You can see some stone slabs with historical inscriptions leaning against the wall. Walk further inside is a deep well. You will notice that some parts of the structure are supported with red steel pillars.
There's a man playing harmonica inside the historical site. I think he's a Portugese and have seen him for all my trips to Melaka.
When visiting Malacca make sure you make the effort to visit this historic site. It is worth the walk up the hill in the heat. This is the original burial site of St. Francis Xavier. The views from here are superb too.
As I mentioned, the ruins of St Paul's Church is nothing more than a shell now. But when when it was built in 1521, it was a gathering point for the Catholic Portuguese parishioners who settled in Melaka. Interestingly, it was built by a Portuguese Sea Captain, Duarte Coelho, in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life in the South China Sea. So logically speaking, after the church was built it was called "The Lady of the Hill" . It was only called St Paul's after the Dutch siege in the 1600s. Another point of interest over here is the wire-mashed area that used to house the remains of St Francis Xavier. The body ( still incorruptible after hundreds of years ) is in Goa, India today. Click here to read the story of the saint.