Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - The parishioners of the Beijing church dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel (known as Xi Tang, the "church of the West") celebrate the 300th anniversary of its foundation by preserving the memory of the beginnings and looking to the future. On Sunday, July 16, the day the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, the Beijing parish also solemnly commemorated its foundation, which took place 300 years ago, at the initiative of the Italian Lazarist missionary Teodorico Pedrini, sent by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. The Bishop of Beijing, Joseph Li Shan, presided over a solemn Eucharistic liturgy celebrated together with two other bishops and about forty priests in the Church of the West. During the homily, Bishop Li Shan invited all the baptized in the parish and diocese to cherish the grace of God and give concrete witness to their faith in their own lives. On behalf of all the members of the Catholic community in Beijing, Bishop Li laid flowers at the feet of the statue of Our Lady, giving thanks for the maternal protection with which Our Lady of Mount Carmel has supported and accompanied the journey of the parish throughout three hundred years, marked by joys and sorrows, hopes and tribulations. Bishop Li Shan also invited the baptized to imitate the humility and availability of the Virgin Mary to contribute to the growth and vitality of the parish community and its works. The Bishop also blessed the eight images of saints that had just been placed in the parish churchyard, inviting them to follow the paths of holiness traveled by the eight figures they represent.
The parish has organized a series of activities to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its foundation, and above all to pay homage to its founder, the missionary musician Father Teodorico Pedrini. The program of initiatives includes meetings and prayer, liturgical celebrations and concerts. The church was decorated and an exhibition was set up that traces the path of the parish in the 300 years following its foundation.
Xi Tang Church is one of the 4 most important Catholic churches in the central part of Beijing, the only one of these places of worship that was not founded by the Jesuits. The place where the church stands was purchased by the Lazarist missionary Teodorico Pedrini, who ater donated this complex to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. In 1730 the church was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake that struck the Chinese capital, causing more than one hundred thousand victims. Completely destroyed in 1811 and rebuilt in 1867 after the Opium Wars, the church suffered further damage in 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion. It was rebuilt again in 1912. After decades of being closed, it reopened in 1994. Inside, near the entrance door, a commemorative plaque in Latin and Chinese traces the history of its foundation. In the spiritual memory of Beijing's Catholics, the church is also linked to the devotion to the Miraculous Medal. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 17/7/2023)