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Museum inaugurates new wing

Holy House of Mercy expands, able to place more exhibits on show

The Holy House of Mercy The Holy House of Mercy
  • ucanews.com reporter, Macau
  • Macau
  • December 6, 2011
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The Museum of the Holy House of Mercy today inaugurated its new wing, built to display more historical relics of the local Catholic Church that reflect its place at the cultural intersection between East and West.

Fernando Chui Sai-on, chief executive of Macau, officiated at the inauguration ceremony.

Among the exhibits in the new wing is a blue and white porcelain plate, decorated with a portrait of baptism of Jesus. It was produced during the reign of Qing dynasty Emperor Tongzi (1862-1874).

Another valuable exhibit is a map of all Chinese dioceses in 1936. The map, marked in Chinese and French, contains information on total and Catholic populations of each province as well as the number and location of missionaries.

More than 300 exhibits have been on regular display, drawing about 100 visitors each day, since the museum was opened in 2001. As there are more exhibits available, it decided to build an extension six months ago, according to Jose Antonio Freitas, president of the Macau Holy House of Mercy.

The museum was formerly the building of the Macau Holy House of Mercy, a Catholic-run organization for social services founded in 1569 by the first Bishop Melchior Carneiro Leitao of Macau. It earned a Chinese nickname “payroll temple” because of its Catholic background and its being the place where the staff were paid.

In 2001 it was converted into a museum and managed by the government, displaying historical objects of the Holy House and religious articles that illustrate Christianity in Asia and Macau, the first diocese in East Asia.

In 2005, the museum became part of the Historic Center of Macau on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Holy House organization, most of whose members are local-born Catholic Portuguese, continues to serve actively in Macau even after the former Portuguese territory’s handover to Chinese rule in 1999.

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