Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - Gratitude, joy, prayers of praise to the Lord marked the solemn celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the parish of Yongning, in the suburbs of Beijing, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in China accompanies and comforts the faith of many Chinese Catholics, and is expressed in many ways, starting with the many icons and statues found in shrines. Countless churches throughout the country are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is not a Chinese Catholic family that does not have at least one image of the Sacred Heart in their home. The church of Yongning, in the district of Yanqing, is part of the Beijing Diocese and is 87 km from the center of the Chinese capital. Yesterday, Sunday June 18, the faithful filled the church, the square in front of it and the courtyard which surrounds it, praying in front of the wooden cross, the commemorative plaque of the parishioners martyred during the Boxer revolt, in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and near the grotto of the Virgin Mary (inaugurated in 2011, when the square was dedicated to the Sacred Heart, an event also broadcast by the television team "Let the World Be Loved" on the national television channel CCTV 4). Together with Joseph Li Shan, Bishop of Beijing, 15 priests concelebrated the solemn Eucharist and also the Day of the sanctification of priests. In his homily, the Bishop urged everyone "to dedicate themselves, their families and their parishes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" in order to "walk, witness and preach on the path of evangelization, spreading the Love of God and the Gospel of Christ along the Guishui River". (river that crosses the district, ed).
Believers of other religions, representatives of civil authority and even official journalists have always been invited to all parish celebrations. Yongning Church also offered spiritual services during the Beijing Winter Olympics and is renowned for its social and cultural initiatives. The Gothic-style church is nicknamed by the people of God "the little cathedral of Beijing". Founded by missionaries in 1873, it was destroyed by the Boxers in 1900. During this uprising, more than a thousand Catholics who frequented the parish were killed, as the monument erected in their memory in the church courtyard recalls. The place of worship was rebuilt in 1902. The church was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution, when it was turned into a grain warehouse for 20 years. The place of worship was returned to the Church in 1985, and reopened in 1987 after the restoration. Since 1993, the parish has had a resident priest who promotes pastoral care and also initiatives in the field of environmental awareness, media and support for contacts between the local community and international groups and associations (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 19/6/2023)