Built-in 1521 by a Portuguese captain, Duarte Coelho, St. Paul’s Church is a historic church that is currently situated on the summit of St. Paul’s Hill and is a part of the Melaka Museum Complex comprising the A Famosa ruins, the Stadhuys, and other historical buildings around Melaka. For almost 400 years in ruins, St. Paul’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. St. Paul Church is one of the five churches within the A ‘Famosa fort. The main purpose of this church was to be one of the leading Catholic churches in Melaka at that time. However, the Portuguese finally lost the war to the Dutch in 1641 and the Dutch made this building their church and also made it a burial ground.
The church is also famous as the place where St. Francis Xavier, who was one of the pioneering Catholic missionaries of Southeast Asia, was buried for a period of eight months after his death at sea before being sent to Goa, India. Today, the empty tomb inside the church is open and protected by a wire mesh and remains as one of the famous landmarks in Melaka.
One of the interesting attraction found in St. Paul Church is a statue of St. Francis Xavier which was built to commemorate the captivity here more than 400 years ago. Apart from the Dutch tombstones seen here, the view from St. Paul’s Hill is also remarkable. Usually, St. Francis Xavier will climb St. Paul’s Hill to pray in this church during the 11 years of missionary service in Asia.
There are also stories stating that St. Francis Xavier prevented storms by lowering the cross into the sea. Although the cross fell into the sea, it was sent back to St. Francis Xavier by a crab coming out of the sea.
By the time the Dutch colonised Melaka from the Portuguese in 1641, they had destroyed all Portuguese buildings except the fort. The Dutch also took over the church, repairing and rename from Igreja de Madre de Deus (Church of the Mother of God) to St. Paul Church which remains until today. The church was used by the Dutch for 112 years until they built their own church at the foot of the hill, Christ Church.
When the British took over Melaka in 1824, St. Paul Church had lost its tower. However, the British have added a lighthouse in front of St. Paul Church and made the church a storehouse for British rifles.
Today, one can enjoy a scenic view of Melaka in one glance from the top St. Paul’s Hill. Not only that, but there is also busking occasionally by the locals, performing old Malay, Portuguese songs to liven the ambiance. Handicrafts and souvenirs are also sold along the sides.
Operation Hour : Open 24 hours.
Address : St. Paul Church, 1935, Jalan Kota, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka.