St. Paul's Church


St Paul's Church is a ruin on top of St. Paul's Hill, which was originally called Malacca Hill. Following the Portuguese conquest, Malacca Hill was renamed Monti Ali Maria, or Mary's Hill. St. Paul's Church started off as a small chapel built by the Portuguese, and was called the Chapel of the Mother of God or Igreja de Madre de Deus, or Our Lady of the Hill Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro, also called Our Lady of Grace, or Nossa Senhora da Annunciada.

According to 16th century Portuguese chronicler, João de Barros, Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro was not built by the Portuguese administrators, but by a Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) called Duarte Coelho.
He did it as an act of gratitude following his miraculous escape from a tempest in the South China Sea. He dedicated the chapel to Our Lady of Grace, or Nossa Senhora da Annunciada, in 1520-21. In 1548, the chapel was passed on to the Society of Jesus by the archbishop of Goa, Don Albuquerque. Francis Xavier (later Saint Francis) received the title deeds on behalf of the Society. In 1556, the Portuguese enlarged the chapel, adding a second storey to it. Further renovation was carried out in 1590 with the addition of a tower. It was then called the Church of the Mother of God.
The Church of the Mother of God and a school were located on the top of the hill. The residence of the Portuguese officers were built on the slope and the rest of the Portuguese population were at the bottom of the hill. The houses were built of brick and wood. Within this fortress was a town hall, two hospitals, and five churches. When the Dutch wrestled Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641, they destroyed all the Portuguese buildings except for the fortress, on which they placed the Dutch emblem. This can be seen today on the remaining gate of the fortress, the Porta de Santiago.
The Dutch also took over the Portuguese chapel on top of the hill, repaired and reconsecrated it into a Dutch Reformed Church, calling it St. Paul's Church, a name which remains until today. The Dutch used it for their worship for the next 112 years, until they built their own church at the foot of the hill, Christ Church. St. Paul's Church was then abandoned.

When the British took over Malacca in 1824, the St. Paul's Church has lost its tower. However, the British added a lighthouse in front of it. And instead of being used it as a place of worship, the Church became a convenient storehouse for British gun powder. The Statue of St. Francis Xavier was added in 1954.