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St Joseph Seminary Church

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Constructed over a span of twelve years between 1746 and 1758, St Joseph Seminary Church is an important heritage building and testimony to the missionary history of Macau. The Church is an excellent example of Baroque architecture in Macau but also assimilates both western and local influences in its structure and ornamentation.

St. Joseph is beautiful church and is a favorite subject for artists. The church is located on top a hill called Mato Mofino in the St. Lawrence Area, southeast section of the City. It is at the back of Saint Lawrence Church.

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joseph seminary church macau attraction

The seminary itself is located across Saint Augustine Church on the square of the same name, but access to the Church is only through the back.

joseph seminary church macau attractionThe entrance, which was added later, is a classical arch with shell carvings and top by an iron cross.

Note the Jesuit symbols on the iron gates.

The construction of St. Joseph Seminary Church took 12 years, from 1746 to 1758. However, the Jesuits were not able to use it for long.

In 1762 a decree of the then Portuguese Prime-Minister, the Marquis of Pombal, suppressed the Jesuit Order and ordered the expulsion of the Jesuits from all territories under the Portuguese crown, thus ending the academic life of the University College of St Paul.

The Lazarist took over the school in 1784. Vincentian, as the Lazarist are also known, provided a very high education such that the seminary eventually received the distinction of "Royal Seminary" from the Queen of Portugal.

The school was also elevated into a university. Many famous missionaries passed through these doors and pushed the evangelization of China and other countries in the region.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Similar to the Mater Dei Church of the St Paul Ruins, also done by the Jesuits, the public access to the St Joseph Seminary Church is via a grand staircase made of 54 solid granite slabs, probably imported all the way from mainland China.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionInfront of the seminary is a hundred year old tree which had provided shade to many students and residents through the years.

The St Joseph Seminary had been created by the Jesuits in 1728 under the auspices of the Diocese of Macau.

St Joseph’s was an international institution with students and faculty coming from many countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas, including the territories under the Portuguese crown.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The curved pediment on top displays the Jesuit insignia at the centre.

In contrast to the seminary building, the St Joseph Seminary Church is renowned for its elaborate baroque style. The main façade of St. Joseph's Seminary Church is a magnificent elevation, with two towers roofed with deep red glazed tiles. The façade is 26.4 metres wide and has three horizontal levels, measuring 17.5 metres at the highest point.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

A broken arch, typical of Baroque architecture, tops the main entrance of the church. The whole composition of the façade is symmetrical and the windows on the first floor, corresponding to the inner high-choir, follow the rhythm dictated by the entrances below.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The church, even if located on a hill, is hidden by ugly modern buildings in a basically residential neighborhood.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The entrance and the Floor Plan....

joseph seminary church macau attraction

There are three entrances in the main façade of the church, with the central entrance leading directly into the nave and the other two entrances leading to side altars.

joseph seminary church macau attractionThe floor plan of St Joseph Seminary Church follows the cruciform shape. The latin shape church is a fine example of Baroque architecture. The decoration inside the church is well preserved.

From 1998 to 1999, the church underwent restoration work, returning the building to its original image, and was reopened to the public on the 3rd of December 1999.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionSt Joseph Seminary Church is laid out in the shape of a Latin cross with the longer arm measuring 27 metres and the shorter arm measuring 16 metres.

The three altars are elaborately ornamented.

The main altar houses a statue of St. Joseph. He is flanked by the top two most famous Jesuits, St. Ignatius de Loyola and St. Francis Xavier.

The Blessed Sacrament is not preserved in this church.

In fact there are no regular Masses in this church as of 2010.

 

 

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The baroque half arch pediments are supported by four solomonic columns - spiral columns - complete with gold-leaf motifs. Baroque flowery designs and religious symbols are found all over the place.

joseph seminary church macau attractionjoseph seminary church macau attractionjoseph seminary church macau attractionSt Joseph Seminary Church left side altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

The sinless Virgin Mother is flanked by famous Jesuit Saints.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was beatified by Gregory XV in 1621 and canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726.

St. Stanislas Kostka was born at Rostkovo near Prasnysz, Poland, about 28 October, 1550; died at Rome during the night of 14-15 August, 1568. He entered the Society of Jesus at Rome, 28 October, 1567, and is said to have foretold his death a few days before it occurred.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

A wooden relief carving of the Nativity Scene is displayed between the altar of the Virgin Mary and the Main Altar.joseph seminary church macau attraction

Details of the pediments and the roof.

The decorative motifs that adorn the interior of the church are mostly baroque in style. The ornamentation can be found in the semi-spherical dome of the church, the vaulted arched ceilings over the altars and the high-choir, the Corinthian pilasters and the pediments.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The decorative elements are in light yellow and white paint finishing with the occasional gold-leaf decoration. Elements used: carpenters tools; holy cup, lamp, cross; crown of thorns, whip, king crown, scepter

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction St Joseph Seminary Church other side altar is dedicated also to St. Joseph. The saint is shown holding the child Jesus.

St. Joseph is flanked by St. Margaret and St. Anthony de (Lisboa) Padua.

The relic of St. Francis Xavier is currently placed on the altar beneath this statue.

On some days, there will be guides inside the church. They will be very willing to explain many of the features of the church.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Relic of St Francis Xavier

joseph seminary church macau attractionAfter the great fire that destroyed the old Church of Mater Dei (St. Paul's Ruins) in 1835, some relics and sacred objects of art were temporarily stored in St. Joseph's Seminary.

One of the most important relics is a bone of St. Francis Xavier, which is kept inside a reliquary in one of the side altars.

St Francis Xavier died at Sancianfrom a fever on the 3 December, 1552, while he was waiting for a boat that would agree to take him to mainland China.

The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on since 1637.

One of Xavier's arm bones was brought to Macau where it was kept in a silver reliquary. The relic was destined for Japan but religious persecution there persuaded the church to keep it in Macau's Cathedral of St. Paul.

The relic was subsequently moved to St. Joseph's and in 1978 to the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier on Coloane Island. More recently the relic was moved to St. Joseph's Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum.

The Dome of St. Joseph Seminary Church

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionSt. Joseph also has a high domed ceiling which gives this church exceptional acoustics. Sometimes musical concerts are done here.

The four joined vaults over the three altars and the high-choir form sub-spaces around the central dome, which is 12.5 metres in diameter and 19 metres at its highest point.

Macau's most beautiful dome is decorated with three rows of sixteen clerestories.

Those on the top row are fixed and the others in the lower two rows serve as ventilators. The interior of the dome is painted white, with the insignia of the Jesuits placed at the centre.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

St Joseph Seminary Church Choir Loft after the installation of the beautiful organ.

There is a barrel vault ceiling above the choir loft. Currently a new pipe organ is installed in the choir loft. Supporting the high-choir at the entrance of the church are four spiral Solomonic columns. In 1865, four Solomonic columns were taken from the remains of the old St. Francis Fort and reused to support the high-choir in the church.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionjoseph seminary church macau attractionIn 1865, four Solomonic columns were taken from the remains of the old St. Francis Fort and reused to support the high-choir in the church.

The building underwent many alterations, especially in 1903 and again in 1953 under Bishop Jose da Costa Nunes (1890-1958), who set the scope of the church as seen today.

In the 1953 project, the building's exterior was completely covered in a grainy plaster known as "shanghai-plaster" changing the original surface of the church drastically.

At this time, two wooden confessionals in a Gothic design were introduced.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Solomonic column

The Solomonic column, also called Barley-sugar column, is ahelical column, characterized by a spiraling twisting shaft like a corkscrew. It is not signified by a specific capital style and may be crowned with any design, for example, a Roman Doric salomonic,Corinthian salomonic or Ionic salomonic column.

The concept of "Solomonic columns" is derived from the biblical descriptions of the two columns, Boaz and Jachin, which famously flanked the entrance to the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

What those columns actually looked like largely depends on the cultural context and imagination of the one who is working up a "restoration", from hints in theBooks of Chronicles and Kings.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The glittering parquet flooring of St Joseph Seminary Church.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

St Joseph Seminary Church has seven tombstones of prominent local residents inserted into the walls and floor.

Foundation Stone

Discovered in 1999; DOM - Domino Optimo Maximo, To the Lord, the Best and the greatest; Year of Construction: 10/10/1746

joseph seminary church macau attraction

From 1998 to 1999, the church underwent restoration work, returning the building to its original image, and was reopened to the public on the 3rd of December 1999.

During construction, the foundation stone, shown above, was discovered. it is now protected and encased in glass. You can see it in the right front entrance and side altar.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Wordings written on the metal plate above the foundation stone.

Side Altars

Like any seminary elsewhere, the number of priest that need to celebrate Holy Mass everyday requires a number of side altars. The church have several side altars decorated with intricate carved wooden altars.

joseph seminary church macau attractionSister Teresa of the Child Jesus

Carmelite of Lisieux, better known as the Little Flower of Jesus, born at Alençon, France, 2 January, 1873; died at Lisieux 30 September, 1897.

The fame of her sanctity and the many miracles performed through her intercession caused the introduction of her cause of canonization only seventeen years after her death, 10 Jun, 1914.

 

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionINRI - Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum

INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum), which translates to English as "Jesus the Nazarene (Galilean),King of the Jews (Judeans)".

Confessionals

A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation, and also in the Lutheran Church. In the Catholic Church, confessions are only to be heard in a confessional or oratory, except for a just reason (1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 964.3).

 

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

The Seminary of St. Joseph

The main building of the seminary was restored three times, in 1903, 1953 and 1995. The seminary building originally had only two floors and a third one was added at the end of the 19th century.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

St. Joseph's Seminary Church built in 1758 is directly connected to the corresponding seminary building and has both inner and outer cloisters.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attraction

With the seminary's main entrance is on Seminario Street, access can also be gained via a flight of 54 granite steps, through a wooden door to the right of the church's forecourt. Initially, the seminary building was a two-storey structure, not the three-storey building visible today.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

Constructed predominantly of grey bricks, the solid walls stand on granite foundations. Inside, wide corridors give access to the various classrooms of the old seminary building.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

joseph seminary church macau attractionThe main corridor, extending in a north-south direction, is 3.8 metres wide and 80 metres long, with arched doors on one side and arched windows facing the inner patio. The ground floor is paved with stone and ceramic tiles, while most of the upper floors are laid with teak.

On the top floor of the seminary building, the timber structure with purlins and rafter supporting the roof similar to Chinese construction techniques is visible from the inside. The roof is covered with Chinese tiles.

The architectural design of the seminary building is simple, with few ornamental markings. It is fundamentally neo-classical in style.

joseph seminary church macau attraction

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joseph seminary church macau attractionOther Catholic churches in this website
Macau Catholic Cathedral, Ruins of St. Paul, Leal Senado Square St Dominic Church, St. Anthony Parish, St. Lazarus Parish, St. Augustine Church, St. Lawrence Church, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, St. Joseph the Worker Parish, St. Joseph Seminary, St. Michael Cemetery, Mt. Carmel Parish, Francis Xavier Coloane Parish, St. Francis Macau, Kaho Chapel in Coloane.

Chapels
Our Lady of Guia Chapel, Sao Tiago Fortress Chapel, Penha Chapel.

Heritage Protestant Sites: Morrison Protestant Chapel and Cementery.

 

 

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