de Macau Committee wish to acknowledge John (Bosco) Correa
with gratitude for the provision of the following piece.
de Sao Joao - 24 June 1622'
break the Portuguese influence in their lucrative trade
with China and Japan through Macau the Dutch decided to
attack and occupy the Portuguese Colony in 1622. They
sent a large invasion fleet of thirteen warships with
1,300 men under the command of Admiral Cornelius Reijersen.
Facing this mighty assault force was some hundred Portuguese
regular soldiers and a similar amount of Macaenses volunteers,
in total no more than 300 men led by Captain-Major Lopo
Sarmento de Carvalho.
The Dutch made their landing at dawn on June 24th the
Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist (Sao Joao) at Calcilhas
beach. Opposing a landing force of 800 Dutch troops there
was a group of Portuguese musketeers commanded by Antonio
In the ensuing skirmish a Portuguese musket shot hit Admiral
Reijersen in the stomach compelling him to retire to his
flagship. His command was taken over by Captain Hans Ruffijn.
Although taking casualties the Dutch pressed on with their
attack forcing Cavalinho and his musketeers to fall back
to a position within artillery range of the city.
The invaders then came under fire from a heavy cannon
manned by the Jesuit soldier-priests on the half-finished
fortress of Sao Paulo de Monte. A well placed shot by
Jesuit Padre Giacomo Rho blew up a wagonload of gunpowder
in the midst of the Dutch formation with devastating results.
Other guns from Monte opened fire causing further casualties
amongst the Dutch and demoralising the invaders.
Commander Sarmento de Carvalho seizing the opportunity
gave the order for a counter attack and shouting the Portuguese
battle-cry “Sao Tiago” (Saint James) led his
eager men who hurled themselves at the Dutch.They were
soon joined by Macaenses citizens, their African slaves
and armed Jesuits and Friars.
The Dutch on seeing their commander Captain Ruffijn killed
by a musket ball and terrified by the furious onslaught
of the defenders turned and bolted. The Dutch sailors
manning the longboats took fright and put to sea leaving
the troops either to the cold steel of the Portuguese
and their African slaves or to a watery grave.
It was a total victory for the Portuguese and this was
attributed to the intervention of “Sao Joao”
who’s Feast Day it was. “Dia de Sao Joao”
the 24th of June has since been celebrated in Macau with
a special Mass at Se Cathedral.
In the past we celebrated this feast day by partaking
of our Macenese desserts and sweets and all varieties
of tropical fruits. This was one night in the year according
to folklore that we need not be concerned about getting
a bad case of stomach upset – as the legend goes
that St. Joao was looking after us, as he did on that
fateful day back in 1622.