Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Macao

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 9
Diocese of Macao

by João Paulinho D'Azevedo e Castro

(MACAOENSIS).

Diocese; suffragan of Goa, founded 23 January, 1575, by the Bull "Super Specula Militantis Ecclesiae", of Gregory XIII, with its see in the Portuguese settlement of Macao (or Macau), on the island of Heung-Shan, adjacent to the coast of the Chinese Province of Kwang-tung (see CHINA, Map). The name by which this settlement has long been currently known is supposed to be of Chinese origin, compounded of Ma, the name of a local divinity, and gau, "harbour"; for this native name the Portuguese vainly attempted to substitute the more Christian, but more unwieldly, form, "A Cidade do Santo Nome de Deus de Macau". The commercial prosperity of Macao, once very considerable, has been almost extinguished in modern times by the rival British settlement of Hong Kong, planted, about 40 miles to the east, in the year 1842. The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Macao, taken from the earlier Diocese of Malacca, at first included the whole of the Chinese and Japanese Empires. This vast territory was reduced by the creation (1588) of the Diocese of Funay for Japan, and in 1676, after the Dioceses of Peking and Nanking and the Vicariate Apostolic of Tonking had been created, the jurisdiction of Macao did not extend beyond the Chinese Provinces of Kwang-Si and Kwang-Tung. This territory has since been still more curtailed, while the jurisdiction of the see has been extended in Malaysia and Further India. The present effective jurisdiction of Macao comprises (1) the city of Macao and some small islands adjacent to it; (2) the District of Heung-Shan and part of that of San Ui; (3) the Prefecture of Shiu-Heng (twelve districts); (4) part of the Christian populations of Malacca and Singapore; (5) all the Portuguese part of the island of Timor.

At the end of sixteenth century Christianity was making rapid progress at Macao, which city had become an important centre of missionary activity in the Far East. Here the Jesuits, the pioneers in this field, established the two great colleges of St. Paul and St. Joseph; the former — famous in missionary annals as "a seminary of martyrs" — was the principal college of the Province of Japan; the latter, of the Vice-Province of China. The Franciscan and Dominican friars, the Poor Clares, and the Augustinians soon had convents at Macao, the last-named founding the hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Penha (Our Lady of the Peak). Other churches dating from this golden age of religion in Macao are the Cathedral, the Santa Casa de Misericordia, the hermitage of Nossa Senhora de Guia, the sanctuary of St. James at the mouth of the harbour, and the parish churches of St. Anthony and St. Lawrence. A severe blow was dealt to missionary enterprise in these regions by the Portuguese expulsion of the Society of Jesus (1762), in spite of which, however, and in the face of bitter persecutions, the Chinese missions, of which Macao had been the original point of departure, still numbered some 100,000 Christians at the end of the eighteenth century. Since that period the Portuguese Government while continuing its padroado, or patronage of the Church, in the Asiatic possessions of Portugal, has at various times adopted a policy hostile to the religious orders in general, which have been, in consequence, expelled from Macao, as from other Portuguese territory (see POMBAL, SEBASTIÃO JOSÉ DE CARVALHO, MARQUES DE; PORTUGAL).

Of the twenty-one bishops of this see, perhaps the most distinguished was the first, Melchior M. Carneiro, who was also one of the earliest fathers of the Society of Jesus. He had been confessor to St. Ignatius Loyola, rector of the college of Evora, and, after holding several other important posts in his order, was made titular Bishop of Nicæa, coadjutor to the Patriarch of Ethiopia, and (1566) administrator of the missions of China and Japan. He occupied the See of Macao from its foundation, in 1575, to 1583, during which period he established the Santa Casa de Misericordia, the hospital of St. Raphael, and the leper-house of St. Lazarus. Among his successors, Dom João de Casal (1690-1735), who lived ninety years and occupied the See of Macao for half his lifetime, assisted in the events which led up to the visit of Tour non, the papal legate, and his death at Macao (see BENEDICT XIV; CHINA, The Question of Rites; REX, MATTHEW). Bishop Francisco Chasm (1805-28), a Franciscan, founded at Macao several important charitable institutions, reformed the capitular statutes of the see, and made a collection of its valuable documents. The cathedral was rebuilt and consecrated by Bishop Jeronymo de Matta (1845-59), who also founded a convent for the education of girls and committed the diocesan seminary to the care of the Jesuits. Manuel B. de S. Ennes, Fellow of the University of Coimbra, Bishop of Macao from 1874 to 1883, was noted in his time for the doctoral thesis in which he refuted the sceptical Christology of Friedrich Strauss; it was his task to execute the Letter Apostolic, "Universis Orbis Ecclesiis", giving new boundaries to the diocese. This bishop did much for the missions in the island of Timor, as did also his successor. José M. de Carvalho (1897-1902), who divided that mission into two vicariates, one of which was entrusted to the Society of Jesus. The present (twenty-first) Bishop of Macao, Dom J.P. d'Azevedo e Castro, formerly vice-rector of the seminary of Angra, was installed in 1902. During his incumbency of the see, the change of territory between his diocese and the Prefecture Apostolic of Kwang-Tung, ordered by the pope, has been accomplished in spite of serious difficulties; the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St. Mary have been placed in charge of the convent of St. Rose of Lima, the Collegio de Perseverança has been founded for homeless women, under the Canossian Sisters (who have also opened a school for girls at Malacca), and an industrial school for Chinese boys has been opened by the fathers of the Salesian Society. With an aggregate population of about 8,000,000, of whom only about 50,000 are Christians, the spiritual activities of this diocese necessarily take the form, to a great extent, of preaching to the heathen. In the city of Macao, which is divided into three parishes, the diocesan seminary, under the direction of Jesuit fathers, educates some 120 ecclesiastics, Portuguese and natives. The Society of Jesus and the Salesian Society are the only religious institutes for men now (1910) established in the diocese; religious institutes for women are represented by the Franciscan and Canossian Sisters, the total number of sisters being about 100. There are at present 70 priests in the diocese, including, besides Europeans, a certain number of Eurasians, Chinese, and even natives of India. In Macao itself the race most largely represented is still the Chinese; in Malacca and Singapore, also, many Chinese are still to be found side by side with the native Malays and the other races, including Europeans, collected in those great commercial centres. The missionaries in Timor have to deal,mainly, with two races, the Malay and the Papuan. The full-blooded Malay is usually a Mohammedan, and is rarely converted to Christianity; the Papuan is far more tractable in this direction. A serious difficulty for the missionaries is the vast number of languages and dialects spoken in Timor. The Catholic being the state religion of Portugal, the prisons and the five government hospitals at Macao and in Portuguese Timor are all open to the ministrations of Catholic priests and sisters; three of these hospitals have chaplains of their own. The government also maintains on the islands of Coloane and Dom João, near Macao, two leper-houses, which are frequently visited by missionaries and sisters. Besides the "League of Suffrages", to aid the souls of those who have departed this life in the service of the missions, numerous pious associations flourish in the diocese — the Sodality of Our Lady, for students; the Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows, for married women; the Confraternities of the Holy Rosary, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, the Immaculate Conception, St. Anthony, and O Senhor dos Passos; the Third Order of St. Francis. The Apostleship of Prayer has been canonically erected and is busily engaged at Macao and in many of the missions. Lastly, the pious association of the Bread of St. Anthony is devoted to relieving the sufferings of the poor.

JOÃO PAULINO D'AZEVEDO E CASTRO