Church of the Saviour, Beijing

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Church of the Saviour
Church of the Saviour, Beijing.jpg
Church of the Saviour, Beijing
Religion
AffiliationCatholic
StatusActive
Location
LocationXicheng District, Beijing, China
CountryChina
Church of the Saviour, Beijing is located in Beijing
Church of the Saviour, Beijing
Shown within Beijing
Church of the Saviour, Beijing is located in China
Church of the Saviour, Beijing
Church of the Saviour, Beijing (China)
Geographic coordinates39°55′26″N 116°22′21″E / 39.92389°N 116.37250°E / 39.92389; 116.37250Coordinates: 39°55′26″N 116°22′21″E / 39.92389°N 116.37250°E / 39.92389; 116.37250
Architecture
Architect(s)Alphonse Frédéric De Moerloose
StyleNeo-Gothic
Completed1703

The Church of the Saviour (Chinese: 救世主堂), also known as the Xishiku Church (simplified Chinese: 西什库天主堂; traditional Chinese: 西什庫天主堂) or Beitang (Chinese: 北堂; lit. 'the North Church'), is a historic Catholic church in the Xicheng District, Beijing, China.

History[edit]

The church was originally established by the French Jesuits and completed in 1703[1] near Zhongnanhai (opposite the former Beijing Library), on land bestowed by the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty to the Jesuits in 1694, following his recovery from illness thanks to medical expertise of Fathers Jean-François Gerbillon and Joachim Bouvet.[2] The emperor also hand-wrote the calligraphy plaque and couplets for the building. It was named "Saviour Church" and officially opened on 9 February 1703.[3]

In the middle of the Qing Dynasty, anti-Catholic forces in Chinese society and the Catholic Church constantly clashed. By the year 1827, the Qing government seized the North Church, and confiscated all the property. Only after the Second Opium War, did the Qing government return the land to the Catholic Church. Bishop Meng Zhensheng rebuilt the establishment into a tall Gothic building at the original site of the North Church in 1864.

In 1887 the Gothic building was moved and rebuilt at its current location, at the request of the Guangxu Emperor, who needed the original space near the Forbidden City to create the Zhongnanhai Park. The cathedral's present cast iron Gothic architectural style and elaborate grey marble facade was built in 1890, under the direction of Lazarist missionary Bishop Pierre-Marie-Alphonse Favier (1837-1905), who designed it. The church stands in a spacious grounds surrounded by pine and oak trees and two Chinese pavilions.[4]

The interior is decorated in 1909 by Alphonse Frédéric De Moerloose, a Belgian missionary priest and architect.

The church is affiliated with the Patriotic Catholic Church of China. It was the seat of the Bishop of Beijing until 1958.[citation needed]

After the recent renovation, regarded by many as a classic example of 'wreckovation', the church once again became the Cathedral church of Beijing.

The siege of Beitang (14 June-16 August 1900)[edit]

During the Boxer Uprising, the Roman Catholic Church's Beijing Northern Church (known as the Peitang, and later Beitang) was under siege by an estimated ten thousand Boxers from 14 June 1900 until 16 August 1900.[5] In addition to Boxers, the cathedral was also attacked by Metropolitan Banner Manchus.[6] Qing Manchu Prince Zaiyi's Manchu bannermen in the Tiger and Divine Corps led attacks against the church.[7] Manchu official Qixiu 啟秀 also led attacks against the cathedral.[8][9][10] Its defence was led by Pierre-Marie-Alphonse Favier (1837-1905), the Vicar Apostolic of the Roman Catholic Church's North Chihli Province, and architect of the cathedral. According to W.A.P. Martin, "the defence of that cathedral forms the most brilliant page in the history of the siege."[11] Favier's "successful defense of Peking's Peitang Cathedral was nothing short of a Christian miracle."[12] According to Martin, "The new, or northern, church, standing in an open ground by itself, was considered capable of defence. Monsignor Favier bravely resolved to hold it at all hazards, and thus preserve the lives of three thousand converts who had there taken refuge."[11] As the cathedral was located inside the Imperial City, Beijing near the western Gate, about three kilometres (2 miles) from the Legation Quarter, it was isolated from the foreign Legations.[13] Martin explains:

Not until the siege was raised, however, had we any conception of the severity of the conflict that devoted band had to wage in order to keep the enemy at bay; for from us, though separated only by an interval of two miles in a direct line, they were cut off from communication as completely as if they had been situated at the north pole.[11]

The Eastern and Southern churches were heavily damaged, as were all other Roman Catholic properties in Beijing. Favier estimated that during the Boxer Uprising that between 15,000 and 20,000 members of his flock were killed and that three-quarters of the chapels were destroyed.[14] During the siege, more than 3,900 people (including about one hundred Europeans, primarily women and children, and 850 orphans) sought sanctuary within the stone walls of the church,[13] which was defended by only forty-one French and Italian marines, led by two French officers. Believing the church would be attacked by the Boxers, from mid-May Favier was able to collect huge stores of food, weapons and ammunition, but the large numbers of refugees necessitated severe rationing until the siege was lifted on 16 August 1900 by the Japanese military.[15][16] During his trip to China in the summer of 1901, missionary statesman Arthur Judson Brown (1856-1963) interviewed Favier, who gave detailed description of the damage inflicted during the siege:

I called on the famous Bishop. He was, for he has since died, a burly, heavily-bearded Frenchman of about sixty-five apparently. He received us most cordially and readily talked of the siege. He said that of the eighty Europeans and 3,400 Christians with him in the siege, 2,700 were women and children. Four hundred were buried, of whom forty were killed by bullets, twenty-five by one explosion, eighty-one by another and one by another. Of the rest, some died of disease but the greater part of starvation. Twenty-one children were buried at one time in one grave. Beside these 400 who were killed or who died, many more were blown to pieces in explosions so that nothing could be found to bury. Fifty-one children disappeared in this way and not a fragment remained.[17]

Location[edit]

The church can be reached from exit D of Xisi Station on Line 4 of the Beijing subway. It is situated on Xishiku Street.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Muriel Détrie (2004). France-Chine : Quand deux mondes se rencontrent. Paris: Gallimard. p. 12.
  2. ^ Shenwen Li, p.235
  3. ^ Xishiku Catholic Church
  4. ^ Xishiku Cathedral, Beijing, China
  5. ^ M.A. Aldrich, The Search for a Vanishing Beijing, (Hong Kong University Press):143.
  6. ^ Rhoads, Edward J. M. (2017). Manchus and Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861–1928. Studies on Ethnic Groups in China. University of Washington Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0295997483.
  7. ^ Arnold Henry Savage Landor (1901). China and the allies, Volume 1. Charles Scribner's sons. p. 24.
  8. ^ 清·陳恆慶諫書稀庵筆記·義和拳》:「大學士啟秀獻策于端王、莊王曰:『此等義和拳,道術尚淺。五臺山有老和尚,其道最深,宜飛檄請之。』乃專騎馳請,十日而至。啟秀在軍機處賀曰:『明日太平矣。』人問其故,曰:『五臺山大和尚至矣。教堂一毀,則天下大定。』聞者為之匿笑。」
  9. ^ 清·李希聖庚子國變記》:「尚書啟秀奏言,使臣不除,必為後患,五臺僧普濟,有神兵十萬,請召之會殲逆夷。曾廉、王龍文,請用決水灌城之法,引玉泉山水灌使館,必盡淹斃之。御史彭述,謂義和拳咒炮不燃,其術至神,無畏夷兵。太后亦欲用山東僧普法、余蠻子、周漢三人者。」
  10. ^ 清·高樹《金鑾瑣記》:「尚書啟秀函請五臺山普淨,來京攻西什庫教堂。僧言關聖降神附其身,攜青龍刀一柄、《春秋》一部,騎赤兔馬往攻,入陣便中炮亡,惟馬逃歸。」
  11. ^ a b c W.A.P. Martin, "A Western Account of the Boxer Rebellion at Peking," from The Siege in Peking, China against the World (New York, F. H. Revell Company, 1900); http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/bxr2.html Archived 2009-02-18 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 12 January 2009).
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2009-01-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (accessed 11 January 2009).
  13. ^ a b "Beijing (Peking) Legations, China, Siege (1900)", 48-52, in The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia, ed. Benjamin R. Beede. Taylor & Francis, 1994.
  14. ^ Annals of the Propagation of the Faith LXIV: 18,19.
  15. ^ Elleman, Modern Chinese Warfare, 126-128.
  16. ^ Ruoff, 48.
  17. ^ Arthur Judson Brown, New Forces in Old China: An Inevitable Awakening Archived 2011-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, 2nd ed. 1904, 199.; (accessed 11 January 2009).

References[edit]

  • Li, Shenwen, 2001, Stratégies missionnaires des jésuites français en Nouvelle-France et en Chine au XVIIIe siècle, Les Presses de l'Université Laval, L'Harmattan, ISBN 2-7475-1123-5

External links[edit]