02/01/2016, 17.32
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Treasures of the Vatican and inculturation on display in Taipei

The National Palace Museum is one of the largest museum in the world, certainly the one with the largest collection of Chinese antiquities. An exhibition on the relationship between the Catholic faith and China through ‘sinicisation’ by the first missionaries opens on 2 February until 5 May. Among the artifacts on display are the tiara of Blessed Pius IX, the reliquary of Saint Francis Xavier and the Vatican Mandylion.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – The National Palace Museum (NPM) of Taiwan is set to open a special exhibition. Titled Treasures from Heaven: A Special Exhibition of Artifacts from the Holy See, the show presents beautiful works of art from the Vatican. Organised by the Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations and the NPM, the event, which opens tomorrow until May 2, is one of the largest in the world.

Among the pieces on display will be the tiara of Blessed Pius IX, the chasuble with stole and maniple of Pius XI, and the reliquary of Saint Francis Xavier. Also on exhibit will be the first texts translated in Chinese by the early missionaries, the first examples of inculturation and sinicisation of the faith. The Vatican Mandyllion (face of Christ) will also be on view.

The exhibition is divided into six sections: "The Holy See," "The Liturgical Year," "The Altar," "The Pope and History,"  "The Sacraments," and "Catholicism Spreads East."

Together, they represent the close relationship between the liturgy of the Church, the pope and the history and development of Catholicism.

Several texts translated by missionaries into Chinese are also on display. They include documents ranging from natural science and philosophy to calendars and mathematics, which had a great impact on China’s development.

There is great anticipation for some of the more valuable Vatican artifacts. One is the aureate chasuble with stole and maniple worn by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). It features golden embroidered damask silk with gold filaments and coloured silk portraying scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Another piece is the tiara of Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), offered to pontiff by Queen Isabella II of Spain in 1854. It shows three levels that symbolise the three authorities of the Pope as ‘Father of kings’, ‘Governor of the world’, and ‘Vicar of Christ’.

A third important piece is the Vatican Mandylion, i.e. the face of Christ, which symbolises the principle that dialogue is possible only when one presents the truth of one’s face.

The Reliquary and relic of Saint Francis Xavier, the “apostle of Asia”, will also be on display. One of the founders of the Society of Jesus, Saint Francis Xavier pioneered the mission in the Far East. After reaching Goa in India, he headed to Southeast Asia and Japan to spread the faith.

His dream of reaching China to proclaim the Gospel ended on Shangchuan Island off the coast of Guangdong. Soon after, he became regarded as the spiritual father of Catholicism in the East and patron of missions.

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