Catholicism flourishes in Tibetan village
By Mu Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-10 14:13
Twenty-six-year-old Joseph and 25-year-old Teresa had their second child on
October 10, 2005. Joseph's uncle Austin named the boy Michael. On December 25,
Michael was baptized in the Catholic Church of their village Cizhong.
Located by the Lancang River and Hengduan
Mountains, Cizhong is a small village in Diqing Tibetan Prefecture of Southwest
China's Yunnan Province. Among the 1,101 residents of Cizhong, most are
clock tower of Cizhong Church is a Gothic building, but its top floor is
of Chinese pavilion style, covered with glazed tiles. [China
It may be hard to associate Tibetan faces with such names as Joseph and
Teresa, but since some local residents were converted to Catholicism around 100
years ago, they began to adopt Christian names and gradually forsook Tibetan
names, which are usually given by lamas.
Following the tradition of Christians, many who grew up in Cizhong but work
elsewhere return to join Christmas celebrations at home.
Hansen, 28, a tour guide working in Shangri-la, capital of Diqing prefecture,
asked for eight days' leave. Hansen said he had prayed in the church with his
parents every year since childhood.
When he studied in Yunnan Ethnic Vocational High School in Kunming, he began
to dig deeply into Catholicism. Now, Hansen reads a Chinese-English bible every
"Actually Christianity and Buddhism are similar in terms of advocating good
deeds," said he. "They differ only in forms."
For this Christmas, Hansen brought with him his girlfriend Lurodroma, who is
from a Tibetan-Buddhist family in Shangri-la. Lurodroma said it was the first
time for her to celebrate Christmas, and she found it interesting.
Seeds of Catholicism
In the second half of the 19th century, the Foreign Missions of Paris began
its activities in Deqen County in northwestern Yunnan. They built churches in
Badong Village in 1866, in Cigu Village in 1867, and in Adunzi (now Shenping) in
However, the French missionaries' work in this Tibetan-Buddhism-dominated
area was far from smooth. In an "exorcising foreign religion" movement in 1905,
two missionaries were killed and Cigu's church burned down.