Ma Temple, also known as Tianhou Temple, Juehai Temple, and ZhongjueBuddhist Temple, is dedicated to Ma Zu, a diviner who was from Putian, Fujian Province and lived in the Song Dynasty. As a child, Ma Zu showed a talent for predicting the future. She grew up to be nun and died at the age of 28.
Legend has it that after her death Ma Zu's spirit helped seafaring merchants and fishermen dispel dangers on the roiling sea. So local fishermen in Fujian constructed the A-Ma Temple to commemorate her. Ma Zu was honored as the Queen of Heaven, and later as the Goddess of seafarers in the Qing Dynasty. The words “ A-Ma Temple’ is inscribed on the plaque of the front gate of the Temple, and is flanked on both sides of the gate by couplets that say "Boundless Humanity and Generosity" and "Benefiting all Human beings
The temple consists of a Main Hall, a Stone Hall, the Hongren Hall (the Great Mercy Hall) and the Avalokitesvara (Goddess of Mercy) hall, all laid out in line with traditional Buddhist temple style. A-Ma Temple represents a testimony to the interlinking of the history of Macao and the A-Ma Temple.
A-Ma Temple is highly regarded by the Macanese and worshipped by people from all walks of life every day. Ma Zu’s birthday, 23th in the third lunar month, is marked by religious activities and other celebrations.
The Portuguese translated ‘Ma Kok Miu (A-Ma Temple) in Cantonese to ‘Macau’, a Portuguese name, to refer to the land they landed on. A-Ma Temple is also incorporated into the design of the Macao Dollar, reflecting its special status.