466-year-old chapel in Malaysia set to undergo restoration

466-year-old chapel in Malaysia set to undergo restoration
Patience rewarded: Sta Maria showing a page from a history book on St Peter's Church in Malacca.

MALACCA - Lent 2015 brought cheer to thousands of Catholics here with news that the ancient Rosary Chapel (Ermida de Rosario) will be restored, ending its days of neglect.

Malacca Museum Corporation (Perzim) has received the go-ahead from the management of St Peter's Church of Malacca to start work on the 466-year-old building and the land it stands on in Jalan Bunga Raya Pantai along Malacca River.

"With the permission granted, work will begin very soon," Perzim general manager Datuk Khamis Abas said yesterday.

Joseph Sta Maria, a representative of minority ethnic communities under the state Barisan Nasional's social service unit (Pembela), said the announcement brought joy not only to Catholics in Malacca but also nationwide.

"The ruins of Rosary Chapel are significant to the Catholics in this country and the good news was delivered when devotees are in the midst of observing Lent," he said.

Lent is a 40-day period before Easter during which Christians are encouraged to intensify their prayer, fast and perform acts of charity.

Sta Maria thanked Khamis for his perseverance in pursuing the conservation effort, adding that a special prayer would be held at the site on April 5 in conjunction with Easter.

Rosary Chapel was first built on the site by the Portuguese circa 1549. However, it was destroyed or allowed to fall into decay during the first decade of the Dutch occupation of Malacca, which began in 1641.

In 2006, the then Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry set aside a budget for the local authorities to undertake restoration works, deeming it a heritage complete with official signage.

However, the site was used to dump garbage and house heavy machinery used in a monorail project. This further damaged a large section of the site.

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