China Christian Church History: Catholic, Protestant and Baptist

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Painting of Chinese Martyrs of 1307, Chapel of the Martyrs of Nepi in Katowice Panewniki.

Christianity first came to China in early Tang Dynasty (628–907). But it was banned by Emperor Tang Wuzong (814–846) in 845A.D. Tang Wuzong was a devoted Taoist, and he banned Christianity, Buddhism and other religions except Taoism only one year before he died.

More than 400 years later, Christianity entered China again in Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). But as Mongol Empire fell apart and Yuan Dynasty was taken over by Ming Dynasty in 1368, China blocked off Christianity again.

In late Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Catholicism finally entered China and has taken root in the country since then. Michael Ruggieri, S. J. and Matteo Ricci. S. J. set off from Italy to Macao in 1582 (one with a S. J. after his name is a member of the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as a Jesuit). In 1583, they arrived at Zhaoqing, China and started their mission in the country. Later they built China’s first Catholic chapel in Zhaoqing.

Catholic Church History in China: Zhaoqing Catholic Church

Michael Ruggieri, S. J. and Matteo Ricci. S. J. started to build China’s first Catholic chapel in Zhaoqing in 1583 and finished it in 1585. They called the church Xianhua Temple (Xianhua means immortal flower in Chinese).

But the Xianhua Temple was seized by the local governor Liu Jiwen only a few years later; it was soon destroyed by local people. The Zhaoqing Catholic Church we see today was built in Duanzhou District, Zhaoqing City in 1905.

Protestant and Baptist Churches History in China: Xiamen and Hong Kong

David Abeel of Reformed Churches in America (RCA) started his Amoy (today’s Xiamen City, Fujian Province) mission in 1842. In 1847, his Chinese disciple Fu Guo Bo donated a land in the downtown of Amoy. In 1848, W. J. Pohlman raised 3,000 US dollars from the United States and used the money to build the Xinjie Church on the land, which was the first Protestant church in Mainland China.

The first Baptist church in China was founded by J. Lewis Shuck (1812-1863) and his wife Henrietta Hall Shuck (1817-1844) in Hong Kong. Today people call it the Queen’s Road Baptist Church.

Sources:

  1. J. De La Serviere, SJ, Histoire de la mission du Kiang-nan (History of the Jiangnan mission), 1914
  2. Archie R. Crouch, Christianity in China: a scholars’ guide to resources in the libraries and archives of the United States
  3. Liu Xu, Old Book of Tang (945A.D.)
  4. Ouyang Xiu, Song Qi, New Book of Tang (1060A.D.)
  5. Xu Yuanwen, History of Ming (1645–1739)