Sunday Mass @ Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church, Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur may be my birth place, but take away that bias and I’d still call it one of my favourite cities in the world. There’s just such an air of eclectic charm to it that captivates the heart: a place where old meets new; where modernity intersects with traditional beliefs and ways of life passed down through the generations.

I was once again reminded of this on a recent weekend trip to the city, where we initially planned to visit an art-themed mall for an event – but ended up joining the tail end of a Sunday mass at a century-old church next door instead.

Founded in 1911, Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church (or the Church of St Anthony Kuala Lumpur) is a small parish church smack in the heart of KL along Jalan Robertson. Although small, the building looks absolutely stunning and represents one of the most beautiful and best preserved examples of Gothic architecture in Malaysia.

From the outside, the juxtaposition of the church’st traditional, immaculately-kept facade against the towering Merdeka 118 in the background never fails to move me. I think it’s wonderful that despite how much KL has grown from a backwater settlement in the mid-19th century into a modern metropolis, there are still pockets of such spaces within the city.

I’ve passed by St Anthony’s several times on weekdays, but have never gone inside. Since it was a Sunday on this visit the gates were open to welcome devotees and visitors, so we took the opportunity to venture in. We caught the tail-end of mass, which to my surprise, was conducted in Malay. I would guess this is to accommodate the East Malaysian community in KL (as many of them speak Malay as a first language), as well as Indonesians (since Bahasa Indonesia is very similar to Malay).

After the singing was concluded, some devotees stayed back to get ash on their foreheads from the priest, since our visit coincided with Lent season.

PS: Aside from Malay, masses are also conducted in English, Tamil, and Burmese. Full schedule here.

The interior of the church is as beautiful as its exterior, the most interesting feature being its many pointed archways supported by columns that run the length of the nave. Large ceiling fans help with ventilation, and there are several dozen wooden pews, complete with kneelers. Meanwhile, large wooden doors and windows allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. The building also has two wings; each side was built at a different time so they vary in height.

As you venture down the nave, you’ll see a large wooden lectern engraved with a scene from the Last Supper. At the back is a stone tabernacle altar, which was preserved to recall a time when the priest would conduct the Holy Mass with his back facing the people (a practice called ad orientem). A statue of Christ hangs over the altar, and is flanked by coloured glass windows.

In the left wing stands a statue of St Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of whom the church is named after, holding an infant Jesus Christ.

Born to a wealthy family of nobles in Lisbon, Portugal in the 13th century, he eventually went on to perform miracles as a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar. His travels took him around many parts of Europe and even as far as Morocco, and he was well known for his gift of preaching. He died at the young age of 35, and was canonized as a saint a year later.

Next to the main church building is a small shrine with a statue of Mother Mary, where devotees can light candles and offer up prayers.

Just outside the church you’ll find stalls selling Catholic paraphernalia, mostly statues and rosaries.

For the devout, St Anthony’s Church is a small but beautiful sanctuary that offers a tranquil respite for prayer, devotion, and reflection. Even if you are not Catholic, I think it’s worth stopping by for the experience and to gain a better understanding of the Malaysian-Catholic way of life. As with all other places of worship, always be respectful within the space, of course!


5, Jalan Robertson, Bukit Bintang, 50150 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Masses are held every day except Monday.

PS: Parking is limited within the area, but if you’re driving you can park at GMBB Mall which is just next to the church. The nearest public transportation to the area is the Merdeka MRT station.

PS2:If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website via Patreon. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Or buy me a cup of coffee at @erisgoesto. Thanks for stopping by!


3 thoughts on “Sunday Mass @ Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church, Kuala Lumpur

  1. I was surprised to read that the Catholic religion was also present in Malaysia; I believe that diversity of worship and the tolerance that goes with it contributes to the quality of life of a nation.


    1. About 9% of the population is Christian/Catholic, mostly from East Malaysia, and there’s a significant number of Christians in West Malaysia as well. It’s not uncommon in some areas to see mosques, temples, and churches next to each other in the same neighbourhood. It’s one of the good things about Malaysia, which hopefully will be able to last into the next generations. Sadly there has been rising religious/cultural intolerance in recent years.

      Liked by 1 person

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