St. Paul’s Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in Malacca. It was originally built in 1521 by a Portuguese captain, Duarte Coelho; however, it was transformed later into a burial place for the noble by the Dutch then as a powder magazine during the British occupation. The church is located majestically at Bukit St. Paul. It’s now part of the Malacca Museum Complex comprising the A Famosa ruins, the Stadthuys and other historical buildings.
It’s just a few minutes climb from the stairs right after the façade of Fort A Famosa. Although the church has lost its splendid ornament, it is still worth climbing the stairs to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the city and Straits of Malacca. It’s also a little bit breezy at the top of the hill as the church is surrounded with big old trees; however there are some vendors and hawkers selling souvenirs, toys, bottled water and among others which seemed to be a little distraction to the overall ambience of this historic place.
Inside the ruins, there are large granite tombstone belongs to some of the Dutch noblemen buried at this hill. There’s also one big hole in the Church barricade with steel bars which is the open grave that once contained the body of St. Francis Xavier before he was shipped to Goa, India, in 1553. In front of the Church stands a marble statue of St Francis Xavier, known as the Apostle of the East because of his extensive missionary works in Asia.
Through times, the church was used for different purposes from place of worship to burial to power magazine. Today, it’s just a mere historical spot in Malacca where tourists, by standers and hawkers flock.
I may not be a Catholic believer, but it’s good to know that there are still some people visiting this place to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. And I hope that this church will continue to stand as a reminder of the teachings of the Christian faith.