Barra temple is also known as Juehai Temple, Tianhou Temple and Zhongjue Buddhist Temple. It is dedicated to Ma Zu which was a fortune teller in Putian of Fujian Province during the Song Dynasty. Since the Childhood, Ma Zu showed the talent for the forecasting of Future. When she grew up, she became a nun. But unfortunately, at the age of only 28 years, she died.
It is a legend that after the death of Ma ZU, her spirit has helped merchants and fisherman to head off the danger rolling in the sea. That is why, the local fishermaen of Fujian constructed what is now known as Barra Temple in her commemoration. Ma Zu was also granted the honorific of Queen of the Heaven and later she became the Sea Goddess during the Qing Dynasty. The transom of front gate of the Barra Temple is engraved in golden characters the name of this temple-“Barra Temple”. The two side of the gate couplets are respectively “Benefiting all Human beings” and “Boundless Humanity and Generosity”. This temple is composed of the stone hall, audience Hall, Buddhist Pavilion, Hongren Hall in the traditional temple style of Buddhist. The Barra Temple and the history of Macau are very much closely related to each other.
The Barra Temple also enjoys a good status among the Macanese and it is visited by the worshippers from all field every day. On the 23rd March, in the Chinese Lunar calendar, it is believed to be the birthday of Ma ZU and grand celebration as well as a lot of religious activities occurs at that time.
The name of Macao which is known as Macau in Portuguese also comes from the translation of Ma Zu by the Cantonese to Ma Jiao. The Barra Temple is also incorporated in the design of the Macao Dollar which reflects its special status.