Portuguese Chapel

The Portuguese Chapel is one of the iconic landmarks of the town of Malindi. Standing as a remnant of Portuguese history in the town, it is an attraction for many.

About the Portuguese Chapel

portuguese chapel on malindians

The Portuguese chapel was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. It is also known as St. Francis Xavier chapel. It is located at the seafront at Shella Area, Mama Ngina Road in Old Town Malindi; it is sandwiched between flats near Malindi Law Courts.

Vasco Da Gama built a nearby pillar and the chapel to prove that he passed there on his way to Goa, India. It is now run by the National Museums of Kenya who took it over after they found it neglected.

The architecture of the Portuguese Chapel

It is thatched with makuti and has a cross on top. The chapel, measuring five-by-five meters, has white walls that were made of coral rocks and sand. The church also has an altar with Catholic religious paraphernalia, two chairs and eight wooden benches on a cemented floor. It can accommodate 40 people seated and 50 to 60 standing. It was built by Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama in 1498 while passing there on his way to India before St Francis Xavier visited Malindi in 1542. It stands on an eighth of a plot and hosts 36 graves of sailors and prominent people in the compound. The graves include those of Malindi pioneer Commander Lawford of Lawford Hotel, first Malindi District Commissioner J. Bell Smith who died on September 1, 1894 and Charles Arnold Frank Matthews, who was buried in 1968.

The best time to visit the Portuguese Chapel

The chapel is open from Monday to Friday to the public where most visitors are foreigners from Europe, Australia, America and Asian countries. The chapel is sometimes used by local Catholic churches for special masses in remembrance of St Francis. People now travel from all over the world and country to pray in this small church because they believe that St Francis Xavier’s powers still exist in it.

About St Francis Xavier of the Portuguese Chapel

St Francis Xavier died on December 3, 1552 at the age of 46. It was the goal of Xavier to extend his missionary preaching to China, but he died in Shangchuan Island before he could achieve that. He was beatified by Paul V on October 25, 1619 and was canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.

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