Sacred Heart Cathedral of Guangzhou
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (耶穌聖心主教座堂) also known as Sacred Heart Cathedral (聖心堂) is a
Roman Catholic Cathedralin Guangzhou, South China. It is the seat of the Archbishopof Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guangzhou.
The cathedral is located at 56 Yide Lu (or Yat Tak Road),
Guangzhou. Being on the north bank of the Pearl River, the cathedral stands at the heart of the busy old district.
The site of the cathedral was originally the residence of the Viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces (兩廣總督) in the
Qing Dynasty. During the Second Opium War, the residence was completely destroyed and the viceroy Ye Mingchen(葉名琛) was captured by the British. Several years later, the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris obtained the site under the terms of an edictissued by Emperor Daoguang(道光皇帝) in February, 1846which promised compensation for churches destroyed and properties taken from the mission. With financial support from Napoleon III and Catholicsin France, Bishop Philippe François Zéphirin Guillemin, M.E.P.(明稽章), the first vicar apostolicof Guangdong, was in charge of the project. He invited two French architects, Vonutrin and Humbert, to design the cathedral and the Neo-Gothicdesign was approved in 1863. Guillemin himself didn't see the completion of the cathedral. He died in 1886in Parisat the age of 72. The project was then under supervison of his successor, Bishop Augustin Chausse, M.E.P.(邵斯).
The cornerstones were laid on
June 28 1863. The words "Jerusalem 1863" were engraved on the east cornerstone and the words "Roma 1863" on the west cornerstone, stating that the Roman Catholic Churchhad its origin in Jerusalemin the east and evovled in Romein the west. From each city, one kilogram of soil was taken to be laid under the two cornerstones.
The construction of the cathedral met a lot of difficulties, many of which arose from the all-
granitestructure of the cathedral. All the granitestones were transported to the site from Kowloon, Hong Kongby sailing ships. The lack of experience of Chinese workers of building western cathedral presented great challenges of constructing a cathedral of this size by hands in the Far East. The progress was slow in the first few years and later, the French employed a Chinese worker named Cai Xiao (蔡孝) from Wuhua Countyas foreman. Cai Xiao had many years of experience in building houses in his hometown, which enabled him to adopt a lot of unique and creative methods. He had never left the site since being employed and the construction of the cathedral took most of his youth but was finished in his lifetime.
Tensions between the
missionariesand the local people often existed. The construction of the cathedral and its affiliated school and hospital required the teardown of many houses and relocation of people, and when almost all houses in Guangzhouare not more than 2 storeys high in the 19th century, the high-rise cathedral and its pointed twin spires created an unusual scene in the city. Local people feared the cathedral would influence the city's Feng shui, and consequently bring disaster. This resulted in more conflicts between the two sides.
The cathedral was finally inaugurated in
1888after 25 years of construction.
Covering an area of 2,754 square metres, it is the largest
Roman Catholicchurch in the Guangzhou archdiocese and the largest Gothic cathedral in Chinaand Southeast Asia. The cathedral is 35 metres wide, 78.69 metres long, and the twin towers rise as high as 58.5 metres. The west tower is a clock towerwhile the east tower serves as a bell tower, inside which there are five gigantic copper bells shipped in from Francein the 19th century.
The cathedral's structure consists mainly of
graniteblocks. It is one of the four all- granite gothic cathedralsin the world, while the other three ones include the Notre Dame de Parisin France. For this reason, it is nicknamed "Stone House" (石室) by local people. "石室" is pronounced "Shishi" in Mandarin and "Seksat" in Cantonese, hence the name "Shishi Cathedral" in Mandarin or "Seksat Cathedral" in Cantonese.
Since its completion in
1888, the cathedral has undergone three big renovations. The first one was in 1920s, when then Archbishop Antoine-Pierre-Jean Fourquet(魏暢茂) replaced the timber roof, beams and staircases with concrete ones. The government spent RMB150,000 for a second restoration in 1984and 1986. The latest restoration was initiated in 2004and finished in the autumn of 2006. The church spent RMB3 million for the 19.64 million restoration project while the rest was covered by the government [cite web
url=http://www.lifeofguangzhou.com/node_10/node_35/node_155/node_525/node_527/2006/05/29/11488706961786.shtml |title=Sacred Heart Stone House Cathedral
publisher="Life of Guangzhou"
accessdate=2008-08-27] . The aim of the restoration project was to solve the problem of leakage by rebuilding the whole roof and all the beams. New
stained glassimported from Philippineswas used to replace the broken 19th centuryFrench one. New lighting, audio and surveillance systems as well as a large mechanical clockon the west tower were also installed.
Monday to Friday - 6:30a.m., 7:00a.m. (Cantonese)
Saturday - 7:30p.m. (Mandarin)
Sunday - 6:30a.m., 8:30a.m. (Cantonese), 10:30a.m. (Mandarin), 3:30p.m. (English)
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guangzhou
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