August 12, 2017

3120 MALAYSIA (Malacca / Penang) - Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca (UNESCO WHS)

3120 Saint Paul's Church in Melaka

Melaka and George Town have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. Both towns bear testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the many religions and cultures met and coexisted, creating a unique architecture, culture and townscape.

With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

St. Paul's Church was originally built in 1521, by a Portuguese fidalgo or nobleman, making it the oldest church building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. It is located at the summit of St. Paul's Hill and is today part of the Melaka Museum Complex comprising the A Famosa ruins, the Stadthuys and other historical buildings. The chapel was deeded to the Society of Jesus in 1548, with the title deeds received by St. Francis Xavier. The chapel was then further enlarged in 1556 with the addition of a second floor, and a belfry tower was added in 1590.

In 1548, St. Francis Xavier with the help of fellow Jesuits, established a school in the premises of the chapel known as St. Paul's College. This was perhaps the first school in the modern sense to be established on the Malay peninsula. Xavier used the church as his base for his missionary journeys to China and Japan. With the conquest of Melaka by the Dutch in 1641, the church was reconsecrated for Dutch Reformed use. In 1753, it was subsequently deconsecrated and the structure modified and strengthened as part of the fortifications of Melaka.

When the British occupied Melaka in 1824, the church was used as a powder magazine and was allowed to deteriorate further.I n 1952, a statue of St. Francis Xavier was erected in front of the ruins of the church in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his sojourn in Melaka. A day after the statue was consecrated, a large casuarina tree fell on it, breaking off its right arm. Incidentally, the right forearm of Xavier was detached in 1614 as a relic.

About the stamps

The first stamp was issued on October 27, 2015 to mark the Stamp Week.

About the second stamp, a special postage stamp issued to mark 48 years of ASEAN, I wrote here.

Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca - UNESCO official website
St. Paul's Church (Melaka) - Wikipedia

Sender: Pumipat
Sent from Melaka (Malacca / Malaysia), on 12.06.2017 

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