After resting a bit in the Fort of Malacca trying to figure out how to go to St. Paul’s Church ruins, we are finally here! Thanks to Babu, our new friend. St. Paul’s Church in Malacca is hidden atop a small hill, and it’s really hard to find if you’re not familiar with the place at all. Or maybe we’re just on the wrong side because it seems like the church ruins can be seen from the opposite side. I don’t know. I’m just glad we’re finally here.
I remember when I went to Macau, I wasn’t able to go to the St. Paul’s Church ruins there. That is such a missed opportunity for me that I made sure I’m going to be in St. Paul’s Church, but this time in Malacca. I love how the church ruins is hidden from the public’s eye and kind of hard to reach. There’s not much people around and inside it when we got there. It is such a delight whenever I visit a tourist spot and there’s no crowd. Perfect for those cover photo worthy pictures! hahaha. 🙂
The first thing I noticed, though, is the statue of St. Paul and its missing hand. Of course, silly me assumed that since the name of the church is St. Paul, that the statue in front of it is St. Paul himself. I guess not. I soon found out that the statue with the missing hand is actually St. Francis Xavier. When he was still alive, his right hand was used to baptize and bless his converts. That same arm was detached from his statue so that it will be shipped to Rome and allow the Pope to canonize St. Francis Xavier.
St. Paul’s Church Behind the Ruins
The ruins of St. Paul’s Church are at the summit of St. Paul’s Hill. It was built in 1521 on the site of the last Malaccan sultan’s istana (palace). It was constructed by Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) captain, Duarte Coelho, in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life during a storm at sea. The Archbishop of Goa (India) turned over the church to the Jesuits in 1548. They moved the body of St. Francis Xavier in 1553 to Goa in 1556 added a second story which is still visible today. Between 1567 and 1596 the Portuguese garrison added gun turrets to the chapel and it became a fort as well. In 1590 a belfry tower was added the church was renamed the Igreja de Madre de Deus (Church of the Mother of God).
Outside the St. Paul’s church ruins is a beautiful view of the old City of Malacca. The weather is good when we got there, a little windy and not too hot. There’s a Malaysian flag and a guy selling cold drinks and some food. We bought some water, then I took some time to feel the ambiance and appreciate the beauty of Malacca. This is also a chance to get to know our new friend, Babu. This is time well spent for me.
The view is magnificent. I suggest if you’re planning to go to Malacca, Malaysia, and you want a good view of the old city, you have to go to this place. Late afternoon near sunset would be the perfect time. It’s worth it, trust me.
After some time appreciating the beautiful surrounding, we then went to check out the ruins of the church. At first you might think that there’s not much to see inside. It’s a small church, much like a chapel. St. Paul’s Church is ruined, yes, but it’s still attractive. When you go inside past the bell tower, there’s just this huge space. There’s no roof, so watch out for rain. There’s not a lot of shelter in the area.
Things get more interesting once you explore the inner chambers of the old church. There’s like a wishing well. We threw some coins and made a wish. I wished for good health to me and especially my family. What interest me the most are the very old gravestones. If you’re like me who’s interested in reading old gravestones, then this is a good surprise. The gravestones have interesting markings and written in Dutch, but with English translation. They’re really cool. And visiting St. Paul’s Church in Malacca is free! That’s the beauty of it all.
Going farther in the inner chambers, left and right, it became darker and creepy. There’s not a lot of people and I feel like this is a likely spot for ghosts to appear. So I didn’t stay long inside. But I did notice that there are kids going in and out the windows. Unang pumasok sa isip ko, mga rugby boy ba ito? Malaysian version ng batang hamog? Startled, I immediately returned to the outside of the church and joined my friends.
Babu then led us to the back of the church and down a pathway that eventually led to the main road in front of a mall. What a day! I am so happy we met Babu and were able to visit the St. Paul’s Church ruins. Babu is like our little guardian angel today. Malacca is such a beautiful, historic place. 🙂
Check out some more picture we took while exploring the St. Paul’s Church Malacca ruins. I hope to visit this place again some day.
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