the 13-foot high and 8.5-foot wide painting, “Canonization of the Saints”, by 45-year-old artist, Li Chien-yi, a Buddhist, depicting 120 beatified Chinese martyrs, was hung at the Vatican during the martyrs’ canonization ceremony.
China's Marian shrines
Italian missionary Bishop Luigi Versiglia, pictured here sometime before 1920 as a young priest in his Cantonese mission, gives a catechesis. The bishop was killed by renegade communist soldiers in 1930. He is among the 120 martyrs of China.
|Joseph Shi Hongchen of Tianjin|
|Chinese 94-year-old bishop continues developing Catholic shrine despite illness||Church Requests Bishop News
Bishop Disappears 07/2006
||Chinese Bishop Jia Releas 072705||Vatican Official|
|Canonisation of the Martyrs of China||Optimistic China Relations|
|1309 Bl. Matthew de Eskandely Martyr of China||1331 Bl. Odoric of Pordenone Franciscan
missionary to the Great
Khan Peking miracles performed
Bl. Agnes Tsao-Kouy
||1815 St. Gabriel du Fresse Blessed Martyr
|1748 Bl. Francis Serrano Dominican A Spaniard||1748 Bl. John Alcober Dominican in China 20 yrs||1815 St. Gabriel du Fresse, Blessed Martyr of china|
|1815 Bl. Joseph Tshang-ta-Pong catechist death for faith||1834 Bl. Peter Lieou native omfort to Christian prisoners|
Bl. Paul Tcheng
||1856 Bl Lawrence PeMan disciple of Augustine Chapdelaine||1861 Bl. John Baptist Lo|
|1820 Blessed Francis Regis
Clet Chinese Martyr
|St. Augustine Zhao Rong companions 120 martyred between 1648 and 1930||
1840 Bl. John-Gabriel Perboyre 1st Martyr of China Vincentian from Puech
Blessed Jerome Lu &
Laurence Wang native catechists
|1862 Blessed John Peter French missionary priest & Martin native catechist MM (AC)||Bl. Lucy Martyr
|1858 St. Agatha Lin Chinese martyr||1861 Bl. Joseph Tshang|
|7 Catholic priests arrested in Hebei||China Releases 7 Priests From Detention||China’s
|Miracle of the Sun 1995||
|China's Grip on Religion|
|China's Marian shrines
» 05/27/2004 15:07
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) - The month of May is Our Lady's month and Christians suddenly become pilgrims rather than tourists as they flock in their tens of thousands to Marian shrines throughout the whole of the Christian world. An extremely large number travel to Lourdes, France; others go to Fatima, Portugal or to Ireland to honour Our Lady of Knock, to Poland to venerate the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Italians are partial to Loreto and in the Americas thousands go to Mexico to pray at the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
What is a Marian shrine?
A Marian shrine is usually a place where the faithful and the Church believe Our Lady has appeared or where some miracle or other supernatural event has taken place through the intercession of the Holy Mother, whom the Chinese like to call Our Lady.
May is also Our Lady's special month in China. May is the time when Chinese Catholics take to the waterways in their sampans or make their way up mountaintops by the tens of thousands to pray at shrines dedicated to Our Lady.
Marian shrines in China
China has a number of Marian shrines. There is the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss situated in the hills north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in southwestern China. This shrine is reputed to be at least 200-years-old. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since it was reopened in 1980, has attracted numerous devotees of Our Lady annually.
There is the new shrine in Fuzhou, opened on 30 April 1993 on top of the hill in Longtian village near Fuzhou city, Fujian province. This shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and called Rosary Villa. The title given to the shrine is reminiscent of the fact that the Dominicans, who were in Fujian province before Liberation, had dedicated the area to Mary of the Rosary. A statue of Our Lady, a gift from Italy, stands in the middle of the Chinese style pavilion on the shrine grounds. The shrine is used as a place for priests' retreats and for group pilgrimages. It was set up by Fuzhou's elderly bishop to promote unity and community in the Catholic Church.
On 1 May 1994, the famous Marian shrine adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Qingyang township in Nanjing diocese, Jiangsu province, reopened after having been closed for some 55 years. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were drawn to the site.
In 1901, according to Old Catholics, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared in Qingyang and healed many of the sick. The Church bought a piece of land and built a church where Our Lady is said to have appeared and it immediately became a popular pilgrimage site. The building was bombed by the Japanese in 1939 and was later turned into a factory. It still functions as a factory today. However, in 1993, some 200 metres from the original site, construction began on a new church. Some 40,000 of the faithful attended the blessing of the new church on 1 May 1994. Regular pilgrimages resumed in 1995 with people coming from Wuxi, Shanghai and all the nearby dioceses. There are, however, two shrines that stand out in a very special way: the Marian shrine in Donglu and the Marian shrine at Sheshan.
Our Lady appears in China
In 1900, China reported three apparitions: one in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels. A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion. The third apparition occurred in Donglu. Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China. Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady's protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary's loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.
The shrine at Donglu
People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location had become such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine. Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in the month of May.
The miracle of the sun
On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, "Holy Mother, forgive me my sins," or "Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children." The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.
The government's response
Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.
Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.
Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.
Against all odds
It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.
The shrine at Sheshan
In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on "the beloved Chinese people." This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its "nine peaks above the clouds" is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.
In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.
In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China's favourite pilgrimage site.
During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.
Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady's feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.
Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady's help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.
|1858 St. Agatha Lin
She was born in 1817 at Ma-Tchang, China. A teacher at a Christian school, Agatha was beheaded for the faith in Mao-kin on January 28, 1858. She was beatified on May 2, 1909.
Blessed Agatha Lin VM (AC) Born at Ma-Tchang, China, in 1817; died at Mao-ken, China, January 28, 1858; beatified on May 2, 1909. Agatha was a Chinese school teacher, who was beheaded for the faith (Benedictines).
|1862 Blessed John Peter
French missionary priest & Martin native catechist MM (AC)
(also known as Jean-Pierre Néel) beatified in 1909. A French missionary priest who was martyred because he baptized too many Chinese. He was arrested, tied by his hair to a horse's tail, dragged, then beheaded at Kuy- tsheu. Three of his converts were beheaded at the same time as he was.
Martin (1815-1862) was one of Jean-Pierre's native catechists and his host, who was among those beheaded (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
bishop continues developing Catholic shrine despite illness
10/26/2006 UCANews (www.ucanews.com) FUZHOU, China UCAN
Bishop Joseph Zheng Changcheng of Fuzhou, though gravely ill, has continued working to develop the popular Marian shrine in his diocese in southeastern China.
Rosa Mystica Sanctuary, which Fuzhou Diocese inaugurated in 1993, houses Our Lady of the Rosary Church, a library and a guesthouse. It is located in Changle, about 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) southeast of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province.
Bishop Zheng, 94, was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in June, but he continued to plan and add new exhibits to the shrine until his health deteriorated in September, Sister Zheng Wenying told UCA News Oct. 16. Her convent manages the shrine and has a convent in the complex.
Three days after the "open-church" bishop was hospitalized in Fuzhou on Sept. 22, construction work began on the "Science and Religion" gallery he designed. The prelate asked the contractors to finish before the end of October, the month traditionally devoted to the rosary, when pilgrimages peak.
The hilltop shrine, formerly called Rosary Hill, features sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross, carvings associated with the mysteries of the rosary, statues of the blessed mother and gardens.
The new gallery, near the shrine entrance at the foot of the hill, features portraits of 13 well-known scientists, accompanied by plaques bearing information on them and their respective views on religion. The scientists include Isaac Newton and James Watt.
Bishop Zheng wrote all the accompanying text. The plaque for Albert Einstein includes the quotation: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."
The exhibit tells visitors that the Catholic faith is rational and closely connected with science, Sister Zheng explained.
Bishop Zheng, who has a special affection for the blessed mother, told UCA News in September that one of his last wishes is to have the holy father approve the shrine as a pilgrimage site and the church as a basilica.
According to Sister Zheng, local Catholics and those from other provinces flock to the shrine for pilgrimages in May and October. Tens of thousands already have come this month, many of them for the Oct. 7 feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the diocese's patronal feast.
All 26 diocesan priests celebrated the feast-day Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church with about 3,000 Catholics attending. It was the first time since Bishop Zheng was ordained bishop of Fuzhou in 1991 that he did not preside at the Mass. It has been held at the shrine since it opened in 1993.
Pilgrimage activities at the shrine climaxed on Oct. 13, the day commemorating the last of the six times the blessed mother appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
On that day, more than 5,000 Catholics from Fuzhou and nearby dioceses in Shanghai city, and Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces visited and prayed at the shrine, Sister Zheng said.
Another new project under construction at the shrine is a series of head-and-shoulder portraits of St. Peter and all the popes in unbroken succession since him, expressing the diocese's full communion with the pope and Roman Catholic Church, Sister Zheng said. The portraits are being placed on a wall beside Our Lady of the Rosary Church.
A middle-aged Fuzhou Catholic surnamed Wang told UCA News that she prayed through the intercession of the blessed mother for her son, a student in is final year of high school. "I wish God would help him enter university next year and then guide him in finding a good job," she said.
Her family follows the practice of making a pilgrimage here every October. Besides praying, the laywoman also thanked the blessed mother, who she said fulfilled the request she made last year.
The shrine is popular not only with Catholics but with Protestants and others who come to pray for their family members, for children taking examinations, or when they hope to have a baby or plan to travel abroad.
Fuzhou is about 1,600 kilometers (about 1,000 miles) southeast of Beijing. Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic
|1309 Bl. Matthew de
Eskandely Martyr of China
He was one of the first missionaries to reach China during the Middle Ages. Born in Buda, Hungary, he entered the Church and set out as a missionary to the Far East.
Few details have survived of his labors, but it is known that he was martyred in China.
|1331 Bl. Odoric of
Pordenone Franciscan missionary to Mongol Great Khan in Peking miracles
Born Odoric Mattiussi at Villanova, near Pordenone, Italy, he entered the Franciscans in 1300 and became a hermit. After several years, he took to preaching in the region of Udine, northern Italy, attracting huge crowds through his eloquence. In 1316 he set out for the Far East, journeying through China and finally reaching the court of the Mongol Great Khan in Peking. From 1322 to 1328 he wandered throughout China and Tibet, finally returning to the West in 1330 where he made a report to the pope at Avignon and dictated an account of his travels. He died before he could find missionaries to return with him to the East. His cult was approved in 1755 owing to the reports of miracles he performed while preaching among the Chinese.
Blessed Odoric Mattiuzzi, OFM (AC) (also known as Odericus of Pordenone) Born in Villanova near Pordenone, Friuli, Italy, in 1285; died at Udine in 1331; cultus confirmed in 1775. Odoric Mattiuzzi became a Franciscan hermit, who made one of the most remarkable journeys of the middle ages. He became a missionary about 1317 and penetrated into Tibet by travelling through Armenia, Baghdad, Malabar, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. He was in Beijing for three years and returned home via Lhasa. Some believed he reached Japan. Odoric dictated an account of his adventures but does not recount much of his evangelical activities, though they were considerable. After 16 years in the mission fields, he returned to Europe to report to the pope at Avignon, but died en route (Attwater2, Benedictines, Gill).
|1748 Bl. John
Alcober Dominican martyr in China 20 yrs
Born in Gerona, Spain, he entered the Dominicans, being sent in 1728 to China as a missionary. Arrested in 1746 by Chinese officials, he was held in prison until strangled to death.
He died with Blessed Peter Sanz and other Dominicans.
Bl. Francis Serrano Dominican martyr of China A Spaniard
Francis entered the Dominicans and was sent to Fukien, China. Arrested with Blessed Peter Sanze in 1746, Francis was elected titular bishop of Tipasa while in prison. He and his Dominican companions, including Francis Diaz, were strangled. He was beatified in 1893.
St. Gabriel du Fresse, Blessed Martyr of china
he was born in Ville de Lezoux, near Clermont, France, in 1750. After entering the seminary for foreign missions, he was sent to China in 1777. Ordained, he was soon betrayed by a Chinese Christian and beheaded. Gabriel was beatified in 1900.
|1622 Bl. Agnes
Tsao-Kouy Martyr of China
Agnes was a widow when she faced persecution for being a missionary catechist. She was executed by being placed in a cage at Sy-Lin-Hien. She was beatified in 1900.
|Canonisation of the
Martyrs of China
His Holliness Pope John Paul II proclaimed the 120 Blessed Martyrs of China as Saints on October 1, 2000. Martyrdom is "the voluntary endurance or acceptance of death on account of one's faith in Christ or some other act of virtue related to God." "martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The Martyrs bear witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity".
Among these new Saints, there are 87 Chinese and 33 foreign missionaries, among whom 6 were bishops, 23 priests, 1 brother, 7 sisters, 7 seminarians, and 76 lay person. From these 120 saints, the oldest was 79 years old, and the youngest was only 7 years old.
The Martyrs persecuted and killed during the Boxer Rebellion were centered in Shanxi and other neighboring provinces. The total number of these Saints is unknown, but the following were arrested in Taiyuan when the Government sealed off the Cathedral. Those arrested include two bishops, three priests, seven sisters, seven seminarians, ten employees and several women. They were taken into custody somewhere outside the Cathedral area in Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province. They were allowed to say mass and pray, and could also receive visitors. Their execution took place on July 9th, 1900, and were all beatified by Pope Pius XII on November 24th, 1947.
|1815 Bl. Joseph
Tshang-ta-Pong Martyr of China a catechist put to death for the
He was beatified in 1909.
Francis Regis Clet Chinese Martyr, C.M. M (AC)
Born in Grenoble, France, 1748; died at Hankow, China, 1820; beatified in 1900. Blessed Francis joined the Lazarists and was sent to China in 1791. There he labored in the mission fields for 30 years in the face of many difficulties. At the age of 72, he was captured, tortured, and strangled for the faith (Benedictines).
|1834 Bl. Peter
Lieou Martyr of China native gave comfort to Christian prisoners
he was converted to Catholicism and was consequently exiled to Mongolia in 1814. Permitted to return in 1827, he soon assisted the spread of Catholic missionary efforts and, during the persecution of Christianity by the Chinese government, managed to make his way into a prison where he gave comfort to Christian prisoners. He was caught and strangled. Peter was beatified in 1900.
Blessed Peter Lieou M (AC)
Died 1834; beatified in 1900. A Chinese layman, Blessed Peter converted to Christianity in his youth. He was exiled for his faith to Tartary in 1814. In 1827, he was allowed to return. During a fresh persecution, he gained entry into the prison to comfort and strengthen his sons and was strangled (Benedictines).
John-Gabriel Perboyre Martyr of China Vincentian from Puech
France, who was ordained in 1826. In 1835 he volunteered for the missions of China and went to Honan, where he rescued abandoned children. When the persecution started, John was arrested and tortured for a year. On September 11, he was strangled to death. Pope Leo XIII beatified him in 1889, making him the first martyr in China to be so honored. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1996.
Invites an "Underground" Bishop From China SEPT. 8, 2005
Names 3 Others From the Mainland to October Synod
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI named four bishops from mainland China, including one not recognized by the Communist government, as members of the Synod on the Eucharist, says a report.
It marks the first time since the dawn of Communism in China that a Pope has invited a bishop of the non-official Church to Rome, according to AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
The naming of the four bishops is seen by Vatican figures as a "warm and friendly" indication to the Beijing government that talks can safely be opened with the Holy See, said AsiaNews.
Last May 12, in a speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Benedict XVI had referred to countries that do not have "diplomatic relations," saying that he expressed the hope of seeing them represented at the Vatican sooner or later.
The Vatican press office released the names of the Chinese nominees today, along with a full list of the papal picks to the synod, which begins Oct. 2.
The four mainland Chinese prelates are Anthony Li Duan of Xian, Louis Jin Luxian of Shanghai, both recognized by the government; Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, not recognized by the government; and Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, recently recognized by the government.
A Vatican source said there is hope that the Chinese government will allow them to come to Rome, according to AsiaNews.
The government in China allows religious activities by recognized personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Bureau and monitored by the Patriotic Association.
The faithful who seek to elude government control make up the non-official Church, which is considered to be an illegal organization.
For the Asian Synod, in 1998, Pope John Paul II had invited the two bishops of Wanxian, Matthias Duan Yinming and Joseph Xu Zhixuan, both members of the official Church, even though the former was still one of the bishops named with the approval of Pope Pius XII.
Benedict XVI's choice of four bishops from the two branches of the Church indicates that the Holy See perceives there is but one Church in China, said AsiaNews.
|1856 Bl. Lawrence
PeMan China Martyr disciple of Blessed Augustine Chapdelaine
He was beheaded, and in 1900 was beatified.
1858 Blessed Jerome
Lu & Laurence Wang martyred native catechists MM (AC)
beatified in 1909. Jerome Lu was born in Mao-Cheu, China, c. 1810, worked as a native catechist, and was beheaded in his hometown at Maokeu (Mao-Ken). Laurence was born in 1811 at Kuy-yang. Like Jerome he was a catechist beheaded in the same town (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Martyr of China. He was a Catholic seminarian when arrested by Chinese authorities and beheaded at Tsingai. He was beatified in 1909.
Bl. John Baptist Lo
Martyr of China. Originally a humble servant, he was converted to the Christian faith and slain because he refused to recant When tortured by officials.
Bl. Joseph Tshang
Martyr of China. He was a native seminarian who, along with three companions, was beheaded. Pope St. Pius X beatified him in 1909.
|1862 Bl. Lucy
Martyr of China Catholic schoolteacher
She was a Catholic schoolteacher in China, where she was beheaded. Lucy was beatified in 1909.
|Chinese Bishop Jia
Released JULY 27, 2005
ZHENG DING, China, JULY 27, 2005 Zenit.org
Bishop Julius Jia Zhi Guo of the underground Catholic Church has been released, after a five-day detention, says a U.S.-based watchdog group.
The bishop's release was confirmed Tuesday by Joseph Kung, president of the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation. He said no further details were given.
Two security officials arrested the bishop the morning of July 18, the second time in a month that he had been taken from his home in the Diocese of Zheng Ding, in the province of Hebei.
Bishop Jia, 71, was previously in prison for some two decades and has been under strict surveillance for many years.
As "non-official" bishop of Zheng Ding, he has headed one of the liveliest dioceses of Hebei, the province with the largest concentration of Catholics, numbering some 1.5 million.
This arrest marks the seventh one since January 2004.
The underground Church in China, which professes loyalty to Rome, does not have Beijing's approval.
|July 9, 2005 St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions
Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.
The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.
The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
The People's Republic of China and the Roman Catholic Church each have over a billion members, but there are only 10 million Catholics in China. The reasons for that are better explained by historical conflicts than by a wholesale rejection of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Chinese-born martyrs honored by today's feast were regarded by their persecutors as dangerous because they were considered allies of enemy, Catholics countries. The martyrs born outside China often tried to distance themselves from European political struggles relating to China, but their persecutors saw them as Westerners and therefore, by definition, anti-Chinese.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is intended to benefit all peoples; today's martyrs knew that. May 21st-century Christians live in such a way that Chinese women and men will be attracted to hear that Good News and embrace it.
A year after these martyrs were canonized, Pope John Paul II addressed a group of Chinese and Western scholars, gathered in Rome for a symposium honoring the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit scholar and Chinese intellectual.
After noting the positive contributions that Christianity had made to China, especially in health care and education, Pope John Paul II continued: “History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the church in China was not always without error, the bitter fruit of their personal limitations and of the limits of their action. Moreover, their action was often conditioned by difficult situations connected with complex historical events and conflicting political interests. Nor were theological disputes lacking, which caused bad feelings and created serious difficulties in preaching the Gospel….
“I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility toward China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians.”
Arrested for 6th Time Since Early '04
ZHENG DING, China, JULY 5, 2005 Zenit.org
Julius Jia Zhi Guo Taken Away to Unknown Location
For the sixth time in a year and a half, Bishop Julius Jia Zhi Guo of the underground Catholic Church was arrested by government officials, says a U.S.-based watchdog group.
Bishop Jia was arrested at his house in the Diocese of Zheng Ding, in Hebei province, on Monday afternoon and driven away to an unknown location, according to the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation.
Government officials telephoned Bishop Jia in advance, notifying him that he was being picked up and ordering him to tell the people that he was being taken away to visit a physician. The bishop is not sick at present, and has no need of medical care, the Kung Foundation said.
Bishop Jia, 71, was previously in prison for some two decades and has been under strict surveillance for many years.
As "non-official" bishop of Zheng Ding, he has headed one of the liveliest dioceses of Hebei, the province with the largest concentration of Catholics, numbering some 1.5 million.
This is the sixth time that Bishop Jia has been arrested since January 2004. The first time was on April 5, 2004, when a car with four government security policemen suddenly appeared at his residence and took him away with no explanations.
Immediately after the arrest, which lasted until April 14, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls described the detention as inadmissible in a state of law, since no juridical reasons were given.
The underground Church in China, which professes loyalty to Rome, does not have Beijing's approval. ZE05070501
|Vatican Official Optimistic About Relations With China
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2005 (Zenit) - A Vatican official says "there are no insurmountable difficulties" for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China.
Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, gave that assessment when speaking today on Vatican Radio.
He had returned from a June 11-22 trip to Southeast Asia, which took him to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
The prelate, who is in charge of the Vatican's foreign affairs, explained that the request the Holy See makes to Asian countries in general, "in the measure possible," is "freedom."
The Church asks for the chance "to offer its services to those in greatest need and to be accepted as a sincere and friendly companion in the pilgrimage toward a world more worthy of man, created in the image of God," he said.
In regard to prospects for reciprocal recognition between the Holy See and China, Archbishop Lajolo explained that "when there is talk of recognition of a country, above all, one must distinguish between the reality itself of the country and of its government and the establishment of diplomatic relations."
"It is obvious that the Holy See recognizes the Chinese state, though it does not have diplomatic relations with it," he said. "How could one not recognize a state of 1.3 billion inhabitants, such as China, with its great tradition of culture, art, poetry, thought, etc.?
"The establishment of diplomatic relations with China is an issue that has been under examination for a long time. From my point of view, there are no insurmountable difficulties. However, it is necessary to proceed with prudence to verify some assumptions which neither side can give up."
The archbishop said he is sure that "with good will and a spirit of friendship, which both sides seek, a good outcome can be attained."
Beijing cut relations with the Holy See in 1951, expelling its apostolic nuncio.
China places two conditions before resuming relations: that the Pope not interfere in the religious situation of the country -- among other things, that he not appoint the bishops -- and that he sever relations with Taiwan.
Whereabouts of Chinese Bishop
Authorities Deny Knowing Anything about His Fate BEIJING, MAY 10, 2005 Zenit.org
Four years ago a bishop of the Chinese underground Church disappeared, and the government denies knowing anything about his fate. There is grave concern that Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang, 83, might end his days like Bishops Fan Xueyan and Li Lifang, who died in prison.
Wanting information, the Chinese underground Church -- which recognizes the Pope's authority, but is not officially approved by the Beijing authorities -- made another public request to the government for confirmation of the detention of Bishop Shi Enxiang from Yixian, in the province of Hebei, explained AsiaNews.
On Feb. 12, 2002, Fides news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, published an incomplete list with 33 names of bishops and priests detained or not free to exercise their ministry (see ZENIT, Feb. 21, 2002) because they refuse to belong to the "Patriotic Association" or "official Church," with which the Chinese government seeks to control the Church, creating an institution that is independent of obedience to the Pope.
Among the arrested prelates, mention was made of Bishop Shi Enxiang, ordained bishop in 1982. His last known detention was in December 1990, from which he was released in 1993.
The authorities were after Bishop Shi Enxiang since 1995. He eventually disappeared, at 81, from his niece's home in Beijing on the morning of April 13, 2001. According to eyewitnesses, two cars bearing license plates from Xushui, in Hebei province, drove the Bishop away. The family went to the police for information on his whereabouts, but were met with the latter's refusal. Beijing's police also denied knowing anything.
Even more recently, the bishop's family went to the Xushui police again to ask for information, but received nothing.
Four years have gone by without any information on the bishops' incarceration, with the authorities refusing to acknowledge knowing anything about it, reported AsiaNews.
The underground Church also asked for news about Father Liu Deli, 42, of the same Chinese diocese, whose fate has been unknown since March 1999. He was taken into custody by the government, after being invited to a meeting. There are no signs that he might be released any time soon.
In March, AsiaNews published an incomplete list of bishops and priests in prison, isolation, or condemned to labor camps. It included a petition to be sent to the Chinese government asking for the clergymen's release.
The petition found support in Europe, the United States, on websites and in the press. Among its supporters include Mario Mauro, vice president of the European Parliament, and Bishop John H. Ricard of Tallahassee, Florida, chairman of the Committee on International Policy of the U.S. bishops' conference, who wrote a letter to China's ambassador in Washington asking for "information about the jailed bishops and priests" in China.
Beijing severed relations with the Holy See in 1951, expelling the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Riberi. China stipulates two conditions to resume relations: that the Pope not interfere in the country's religious situation (among other things, that he not name bishops), and that he sever relations with Taiwan. ZE05051003
priests arrested in Hebei
28 April, 2005 Rome AsiaNew
They were to go on retreat. Their bishop, Msgr Julius Jia Zhiguo, had been under surveillance from John Paul II’s death through to the election of Benedict XVI.
Seven priests of the underground Church were arrested last April 27 in the village of Wuqiu, near the city of Jinzhou (Hebei). The priests, whose age range from 30 to 50 years, had gathered for a spiritual retreat together with Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, unofficial bishop of Zhengding. The news was reported by the U.S.-based Kung Foundation, along with the named of those arrested:
Fr Wang Dingshan (50 anni), Li Qiang (31), Liu Wenyuan (35) di Gaocheng; Fr Zhang Qingcai (45) della contea di Wuji; Fr Li Suchuan (40) di Zhaoxian; Fr Pei Zhenping (43) di Luancheng; Fr Yin Zhengsong (32) di Dingzhou.
The arrests were made by the Security Bureau and Religious Affairs Bureau of Shijiazhuang at 5:30 p.m., with dozens of policemen and 9 police cars surrounding the retreat site.
Msgr Jia Zhiguo, who was to lead the retreat, had just been released from a period of round-the-clock surveillance, from the time of John Paul II’s death to Benedict XVI’s election, March 20 to April 25. Security forces and the Religious Affairs Bureau had warned Msgr Jia to refrain from all religious activity. The government in China allows religious activity only in places and with people registered and monitored by the state and the Patriotic Association. Any religious activity outside of state control is considered unlawful and a threat to public order. Control by the Patriotic Association aims at fostering the birth of a national church, independent of relations with the Pope.
In the days around John Paul II’s funeral and the election of Benedict XVI, some media outlets thought they had registered a change in the government’s tone and new prospects for dialogue between China and the Vatican. The government had in fact sent its condolences for the death of John Paul II and best wishes for the new pontificate. The seven arrests of the 27th and, prior to that, the arrest of 2 bishops, a priest and a layperson (cfr AsiaNews 2/4/2005), against which the Vatican has spoken out, occurred concurrently with the first days of the new pontificate and with the final days and death of the late pontiff.
|Ill Bishop Disappears in
JIN ZHOU, China, JULY 7, 2006 (Zenit.org)
Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 72, was arrested while still in the hospital recovering from an operation. There has been no trace of him since the arrest last Sunday.
The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation sent ZENIT a communiqué stating that on June 25, Bishop Jia Zhiguo, of the underground Church, bishop of the Zheng Ding Diocese, was arrested by the religious bureau personnel of Jin Zhou in Hebei.
According to the communiqué, the authorities removed the bishop from the hospital before his medical care was completed. The faithful questioned the religious affairs office about his whereabouts and were told that the bishop had been sent away for a few days of "education."
There is no further information on his situation, the communiqué reports.
Ordained a bishop in 1980, he has lived virtually the whole of his episcopal ministry under house arrest and was previously imprisoned for approximately 20 years. It is estimated that this is the ninth or 10th arrest suffered by Bishop Jia Zhiguo since January 2004. Hebei is the Chinese region with the greatest concentration of Catholics, numbering over 1.5 million, most of who belong to the underground Church.ZE06070702
Zhao Kexun arrested
Rome (AsiaNews) March 31, 2005
Measures against the unofficial Church increasing. Conversions and baptisms increasing. At Easter all Catholics prayed for the Pope’s health.
Father Zhao Kexun a priest of the non-official Church of Xuanhua (Hebei) was arrested yesterday by police. According to the Kung Foundation, which reported the news, the priest was stopped and taken away by public security agents on his way home after having celebrated Mass in a private home in Zhajiazhuang. A woman accompanying Fr Zhao was also arrested, but was released soon after.
The Chinese government allows religious freedom only to those registered with the government’s Religious Affairs Bureau and in places authorized and constantly monitored by that same bureau. On the basis of new laws on religious freedom passed on March 1st, priests and members of the faithful who gather in private homes or otherwise outside the bounds of state control are considered outlaws and are pursued as delinquents or conspirators against public order.
In the mid-90s, Beijing launched a full-blown and on-going campaign to eradicate underground communities of all religions and in particular Catholic communities, guilty of having ties with the Pope and the Vatican, considered to be a “foreign power”
According to AsiaNews data, there are currently 18 bishops and 20 priests who have disappeared into the hands of police, are in isolation, or are prevented from exercising their ministry.
In mid-March, this agency launched a campaign calling for their liberation.
At least 8 million people in China refer to the underground Church. According to government figures, 4 million Catholics belong to the official Church.
AsiaNews sources say that the government is concerned about the huge wave of religious sentiment.
Each year in the country at least 150,000 adults convert to Catholicism, whether through the official or underground Church. This year, during the Easter Vigil at the Church of the Saint Saviour (Bei Tang) in Beijing, 48 adults were baptized. In cities across China, the celebrations of the Easter Triduum were attended by large numbers of faithful, but also by thousands of young, non-Catholic people in search of faith.
In every gathering, the faithful prayed for the Pope, for his health and for his suffering. Many priests asked worshippers to dedicate each day a few minutes of Eucharistic adoration to the Pope and his mission.
|Bishop Jia Zhiguo released 01/10/2005
seminarians avoid arrest
The underground seminary is constantly on the move to avoid police detection. This is religious freedom Chinese-style. Rome (AsiaNews) – Chinese authorities released Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo. However, the police tried to raid an underground seminary in Baoding but seminarians were warned in time and able to get away scot-free, sources told AsiaNews.
According to the Kung Foundation, the police had arrested the 69-year-old clandestine prelate on January 5 in a church in Wu Qiu (Hebei) only to release him on the 8th. Local Catholics told AsiaNews that he was arrested to prevent him from celebrating Epiphany with his faithful. “It’s always the same story,” they said. “We are used to it by now. Just before an important feast—Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption—the Bishop is taken into custody and disappears for a few days. This is religious freedom Chinese-style for you.”
The Chinese government guarantees freedom of worship but only for some religions in places and by clergy registered with Religious Affairs Office. For Catholics, this means being subject to the Patriotic Association whose goal is to set up a Catholic Church separate from Rome.
In Hebei, the province with the largest concentration of Catholics, many refuse to submit to government’s control and prefer to meet in private homes. Before Christmas, the police threatened to detain anyone who celebrated the holiday outside established structures.
The underground seminary in Baoding, with its dozens of theology students, was shut down in 1996 after a police raid led to the arrest of its rector and the detention of Bishop Francis An Shuxin. At that time, students were sent home. Since then the seminary has been moving from place to place to avoid further arrests. However, Bishop An Shuxin is still detained but no one knows where.
|China Releases 7
Priests From Detention STAMFORD, Connecticut, MAY 3, 2005 Zenit.org
Chinese authorities have released seven priests of the Diocese of Zhengding who were arrested April 27 while on a spiritual retreat with their bishop, says a U.S.-based watchdog group. Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said that the priests in Hebei province were released from various security bureaus. No other details were given.
The priests belong to the "underground Church" which recognizes the Pope's authority but is not officially approved by Beijing. They were on retreat in a village near the city of Jinzhou with their "non-official" Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo. The prelate, a bishop since 1980, has spent some 20 years in prison. Bishop Jia has been warned previously by the Public Security and religious offices not to engage in any religious activity. ZE05050302
|China's Grip on
Religious Expression Interview With Director of AsiaNews ROME,
MAY 1, 2005 Zenit.org
Businessmen who invest in China must be committed to the cause of human rights, says the director of the AsiaNews agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Father Bernardo Cervellera, a missionary who has lived in and often visits China, spoke with ZENIT about the thorny problem of religious freedom in the country. To promote human rights, Father Cervellera appeals to the international community to promote a campaign for the release of Christians locked up in Chinese prisons. ZE05050123
Q: Might not the campaign to release imprisoned priests and other Christians be counterproductive for them, triggering reprisals?
It has not been requested by friends of the detained. Totalitarian countries are only afraid of international public opinion. To publish violations of human rights and religious freedom, in particular, is the only way to obtain something.
AsiaNews' campaign to release 19 bishops and 18 priests, detained in different ways by the Chinese government, has received important support as, for example, from the European Parliament and the bishops' conference of the United States. Moreover, we need to tell Westerners who go to do business in China that they should participate in the building of a new civilization, based on the dignity of man. Sometimes businesses do more harm than good in China.
Q: China argues that it does not enjoy relations with the Holy See -- that is how it justified its absence from John Paul II's funeral -- because the Vatican has relations with Taiwan. Is this the reason?
For at least 20 years, China has continued to say that diplomatic relations with the Vatican don't exist because the Holy See has relations with Taiwan and that, before establishing relations with the Holy See, the Vatican must sever its relations with Taiwan. The Chinese government's second argument is that the Vatican must not meddle in the internal affairs of the Church in China, in particular, in the appointment of bishops.
China does not say, however, that the Vatican has relations with Taiwan because it has no other option. The People's Republic of China severed relations with the Holy See in 1951 and expelled the apostolic nuncio.
China does not realize that the Holy See has always said that relations with Taiwan are not so important, and proof of this is that the Church does not have a nuncio there, but a "chargé d'affaires." It is not a genuine embassy; the real embassy was the one in Beijing but, for the time being, nothing else can be done.
Much more serious is the problem of the Pope and the appointment of bishops. In China, such appointments are regarded in terms of a relationship with a foreign power, as they interpret everything in a political, not pastoral, way.
So the difficulties depend entirely on China, which uses the motive of Taiwan so as not to take steps forward in religious freedom. The government is afraid of Taiwan, an island with 23 million inhabitants, in contrast to China's 1.3 billion, because Taiwan is a democratic country and sooner or later it might declare independence.
In fact, this problem of unity with Taiwan is an attempt by China to keep the country united, using the trick of nationalism. It is the only ideal that remains in China, a country absolutely divided between rich and poor, coastal and interior zones, cities and fields, where many social tensions nest.
Q: But wasn't the regulation opened recently on the matter of religious freedom in China?
Father Cervellera: It's not exactly like that. With the new norms, in force since May 1, Christian communities are allowed to have places of worship, but what the regulation seeks is greater efficiency in controlling, and that's all. Among Catholics, no one sees any progress. Orthodox are allowed to register, but this does not impede the government from controlling the freedom of the churches, a fundamental right. Progress is not evident; what is more, China is not taking steps forward.