THE FUNERAL ST PAUL'S

This is an edited version of a story from a collection of unpublished anecdotes by Bernardino "Riri" d'AssumpçãoClick on the SEARCH icon and enter his ID number (3) to be taken to his personal page

The ruins of St Paul's church in Macau are great tourist attraction today. It is not generally known that the church had been built mainly by Japanese Catholic refugees fleeing persecution in Japan and that 25 of them were buried inside it. It was originally named "The Church of the Mother of God"; "St Paul" was the name given to the entire Jesuit complex, encompassing the church, the college-seminary and even nearby Monte Fort. This historic church was destroyed by a fire in 1835 and all that remains today is the magnificent fašade with the imposing wide staircase of granite steps.

There was an old story in Macau about an event at these steps. A rich man had had an apoplectic fit and was pronounced dead by a doctor. In the humid summer heat of Macau corpses decomposed quickly so arrangements were made for an immediate burial at this church. Six of the man's African slaves were carrying his coffin up the stone steps when they suddenly stampeded, allowing the coffin to roll down the steps. The slaves later insisted that they had lost control when they clearly heard banging from inside the coffin. When the coffin was open it was found that although the body was still warm the poor man was definitely dead as his neck had been broken by the fall.

Most of his friends and relations came to the conclusion that his death had been misdiagnosed and that he had awakened and desperately tried to draw attention. The authorities intended to punish the slaves but the man's widow would have none of it.

An intriguing sequel to this story was the marriage of the rich widow to the doctor two years after the funeral. This gave rise to malicious whispers and a conspiracy theory that he had actually been drugged by the doctor with the intention of having him buried alive; however, it has to be a asked, if the intention was to murder him, would it not have been easier and safer just have poisoned him? It is easier to believe incompetence on the part of the doctor than evil intent.

Some credence might be given to this story as it was passed down in detail for generations in Macau.