Established by the first Bishop of Macao in 1569, this institution was modeled after one of the most prominent and oldest charitable organizations in Portugal, and was responsible for founding in Macao the first western-style medical clinic and several other social welfare structures that still function to this day.
One of the principal roles of Macao’s Holy House of Mercy was to provide support for orphans and widows of sailors who died at sea, a role that is intimately linked to Macao’s profile in the context of regional and international maritime trading routes.
The Holy House of Mercy features a richly decorative arcaded facade which occupies a prominent position on Senado Square. It is composed of a mixed variety of columns and pilasters set between the archways, creating behind them a passageway for pedestrians on ground level and a balcony on the upper level. The rhythmic placement of these pilasters and their height variations enliven the fa'ade.
With the exception of the granite pedestals on ground level, the whole building is painted white, emitting simple elegance and a sense of tranquility. The building is neo-classical in the overall architectural treatment, but also depicts traces of mannerist influence such as in the use of “imprisoned” columns at ground level.