Monday, 22 February 2010

Winter Wanderings - Part 1

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception  - Beijing

In January the Catholic Herald wrote a small article regarding the Italian Bishop of Macerata reopening the canonisation cause of Fr. Matteo Ricci.

This reminded me of a recent business visit to China where I was able to visit the Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception in downtown Beijing.  The church is currently under His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Li Shan, one of the few Bishops who is recognised both by the Vatican and the Chinses Patriotic Catholic Church.  The first building was erected in 1605 whilst the current Cathedral, the fourth on the site, was built approximately 400 years later in 1904. The previous (third) building was destroyed during the Boxer revolution.

 Statue of Fr Matteo Ricci

The statue has been placed in the centre of the forecourt of the Cathedral Grounds indicating the importance of Fr Ricci to the Chinese Catholic community even now, 400 years after his death.

Inside the Cathedral is a mixture of ancient and modern (bling).  As may be seen in the photo below, electronic display boards have been placed on pillars two thirds of the way down the nave.  The information does not, as one would assume, display hymn numbers, Kyriale etc but, much more importantly, the current date, time and inside temperature!

The maps I had were not very helpful in finding the Cathedral but asking the locals proved much better.  All I needed was to show them my Rosary and their eyes lit up.  Amid much gesticlulation and chatting in Mandarin (they stopped when they noticed my eyes glazing over in complete incomprehension as to what they were saying), I soon found the place.

Whilst there I took the opportunity to recite Lauds despite the constant chatting of two ladies at the back who were busy eating their morning snack complete with chopsticks.  Lauds duly completed I surveyed the interior and lo and behold the two ladies were now manning the information table at the entrance and devoutly praying the Rosary.

Within the ground of the Cathedral I noticed a group of nuns who are responsible for numerous ministries within the Catholic community, especially the adjoining health clinic, catechism classes and welfare of the priests.

To see more photos in this set please click here.

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