The Church of St Francis of Assisi was built in 1715. Thousands of people heard lectures on Church history, took part in the baptism of 41 persons, and listened to a concert of choirs. Hundreds of faithful found accommodation with local families.
Xian (AsiaNews) – The diocese of Xian celebrated the 300th anniversary of its cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint of the stigmata, from 1 until 4 October, his feast day.
Built in 1715, the church has three naves, with Chinese-styled decorations and paintings.
Thousands of faithful took part in various events – conferences, concerts, exhibits – that highlight the church’s vitality over three centuries of history, from the first bishop of the apostolic vicariate, Franciscan Mgr Basilio Brollo (known as Yè Zōngxián in Chinese) to today’s diocese with Mgr Anthony Dang Mingyan.
On 1st October, Mgr Dang himself led the anniversary Mass, along with 46 other priests from the Xi’an diocese as well as neighbouring dioceses. More than 3,000 people took part in the service.
In the corridor on the first floor of the Cathedral, a "historical gallery" was set up, showing the portraits of the 21 bishops who held the episcopal see for the past 300 years. In the afternoon, a concert with 14 church choirs took place.
The next day, participants heard some lectures on the history of the Church in China and Shaanxi from Prof Liu Ping, author of A Brief History of Chinese Catholic Art, and Fr Hu Shibin, author of Shaanxi Catholicism.
The highlight came on Tuesday, 4 October, the feast day of Saint Francis. Some 41 people were baptised in the morning Mass, including several elderly and some infants, along with young people and adults. The oldest was a 67-year-old catechumen, the youngest was a 30-days-old infant.
All of them received a Bible with the 300th anniversary logo ‘the word of God is my lamp in front of my feet, and the light of your path’ (Psalm 118).
In order to allow the participation of the greatest number of faithful, the diocese organised three meals a day for those present and arranged accommodation for 600 people with local parishioners.