History of the Church

The origin of the church can be traced to an attap chapel that was built in 1853. It was subsequently replaced by a brick chapel named St Mary's Chapel. Fr Jean Casimir Saleilles, parish priest from 1881 to 1911, was responsible for building the present church in 1901, and named it Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

From 1946 to 1955, the parish priest was Fr Francis Chan, who erected the Shrine of St Anne and the Shrine of St Francis Xavier in the compound behind the sacristy. His good relationship with Sultan Ibrahim of Johor let the Sultan to present the Nativity Church a marble statue of Mary, that which is now standing in front of you. On December 8th, 1946, a Marian devotion with procession was held, and the statue was first blessed by Fr Chan.

About the Statue and Mary's Courtyard

This statue of Mary in this form is called "The Immaculate Conception of Mary". It shows her standing upon a globe and crushing the head of a serpent beneath her feet, which takes its reference from the Book of Genesis 3:15. When Mother Mary appeared to St Catherine Laboure in 1830, she gave her a medal design which later came to be known as the Miraculous Medal. On one side is an image of Mary as mentioned above, with the words "O Mary conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse in you."

On the other side, there are twelve stars referring to the twelve tribes of Israel of the Old Testament, and to the twelve Apostles of the New Testament, which together represent the entire believing community. They also refer to Revelation 12:1, which mentions the woman crowned with twelve stars. The cross symbolizes Christ our Saviour, with the bar under the cross a sign of earth. "M" stands for Mary who supports his redemptive work. The two hearts are that of Jesus and Mary. They love us and suffer for us. (See Luke 2:35)