Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - The Beijing parish of Xi Tang celebrates the 300th anniversary of its foundation by inviting the people of God to make a spiritual "pilgrimage" tomorrow, February 11, on the day the liturgy celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
On February 11, 1958, the Immaculate Virgin appeared for the first time to Bernardette Subirous in the Massabielle grotto, in the French Pyrenees. Chinese Catholics have great devotion to the Marian apparitions of Lourdes, recognized by the Church. On the occasion of the feast, the Catholics of Beijing are invited to go in person to the Xi Tang Church, where they will be able to retrace the history of the apparitions, meditate on the 18 messages entrusted by the Immaculate Virgin to Bernadette Subirous from February 11 to July 16, 1858, receive holy water from Lourdes, touch a stone from the French Shrine, go in procession to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes to pray the Rosary, participate in Eucharistic Adoration and obtain plenary indulgence. During a two-hour spiritual pilgrimage, despite being thousands of kilometers away, Chinese Catholics will be able to immerse themselves in the collected and devout atmosphere that reigns in Lourdes, and will be able to "pray for themselves, for their families, for the Church, for the Nation and for the world marked by the sufferings of war, the pandemic, the earthquake…. invoking graces and healings through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes".
On Saturday, February 11, the Church also celebrates the XXXI World Day of the Sick. The Catholic communities of China, which in recent months have shared the tragic evolution of the latest outbreak of the pandemic, also read in the light of this experience, the considerations and reminders offered by Pope Francis in his message for the Day of the Sick, titled “Take care of him”. Compassion as a synodal exercise of healing”.
Xi Tang ("Church of the West") Parish, which this year also celebrates its 300th anniversary of foundation, is one of four largest Catholic churches in central Beijing, the only one of these places of worship not founded by Jesuits. Its founder is the famous Italian Lazarist missionary Father Teodorico Pedrini, sent by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. The land where the church stands was bought by the Lazarists, who later donated this complex to Propaganda Fide. In 1730, the church was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake that rocked the Chinese capital, killing more than 100,000 people. Completely destroyed in 1811 and rebuilt in 1867 after the Opium Wars, the church was further destroyed in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion. It was rebuilt again in 1912. After decades of closure, the church reopened its doors in 1994. Inside, next to the entrance door, a commemorative plaque in Latin and Chinese traces the history of its founding. In the spiritual memory of the Catholics of Beijing, the church is also linked to the devotion to the Miraculous Medal. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 10/2/2023)
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