ASIA/CHINA - Where does the great devotion of Chinese Catholics to the Sacred Heart of Jesus come from?

Friday, 14 June 2024 local churches   popular worship  

by Marta Zhao

Shijiazhuang (Agenzia Fides) - According to the "Guide to the Catholic Church in China" edited by the great French missionary Jean Charbonnier (1932-2023), there are over 200 parishes, churches and chapels dedicated to the Sacred Heart in mainland China. Among them is the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou, perhaps the most beautiful of all the cathedrals in China. New churches continue to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, such as the church inaugurated in June 2023 in the Diocese of Wenzhou (see Fides, 26/6/2023).
According to the Catholic newspaper "Shengxin" ("Sacred Heart"), published in Shanghai from 1887 to 1949, it was the Jesuit Father Jean Charles de Broissia who introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart in China. However, the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart in China is mainly due to his confrere Romain Hinderer (1668-1744), who built the first large church of the Sacred Heart in the city of Hangzhou between 1722 and 1732 (where the mausoleum park of another great Italian Jesuit, the historian, geographer and cartographer Martino Martini, who lived from 1614 to 1661, is now located).
The Divine Word missionaries also made a great contribution to the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart among Chinese Catholics. From the founder, Saint Arnold Janssen, to Saint Joseph Freinademetz, the Divine Word missionaries have always found consolation in the divine mercy that is poured out on humanity through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Today, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is part of the Christian life lived in the daily life of Chinese Catholic communities. A spiritual dynamic that is particularly cultivated in the month of June, the month that the People of God in every part of the world dedicates to the Sacred Heart.
There are lay people who consecrate their entire family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while priests celebrate the Day of Priestly Sanctification on its liturgical solemnity. In every home of a Chinese Catholic family there is at least one image of the Sacred Heart. In this month of June too, testimonies of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are increasing in China. For example, in the Sacred Heart Parish in Quxi, Ouhai, in the Diocese of Wenzhou, every Sunday in June, after the solemn procession from the Convent of the Nuns of Saint Theresa, more than 350 baptized people participate in the Eucharist and pray the Rosary together, also participating in meetings and catechisms dedicated to the devotion of the Sacred Heart.
At the Women's Congregation of the Sacred Heart in the Diocese of Guizhou, Sister Fausta Tao Guangying recently made her perpetual vows.
Paul Xiao Zejiang, Bishop of the Diocese of Guiyang (capital of Guizhou Province), praised the choice of the nun because it "reflects Jesus' evangelical invitation to young people to give up everything they hold dear, which can only be done unreservedly in Christ, with Jesus as the supreme treasure."
On the International Day of the Sanctification of Priests, Bishop Paul Xiao ordained two new priests during a solemn Mass attended by over 600 Catholics. (Agenzia Fides, 14/6/2024)