Sunday, May 26, 2013

Over 2500 Catholic pilgrims came together in prayer to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan. The Pope sent his first public message to the Church of China since his election.Also: Police surround China village for Catholic celebration


At least 2500 faithful took part in the Sheshan pilgrimage in the outskirts of Shanghai, in celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, China’s patron saint.

In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI wrote a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan  - venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians" – placing the fate of the Church of China in her hands. The former Pope entrusted the Chinese Church to her once before, on 27 May 2007, when he wrote the famous “Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China,” asking that “the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China.” This year, the new Pope sent a tweet to join China’s Catholics in prayer as they celebrate the feast.

Not far from the Minor Basilica that houses the statue of Our Lady of Zose (the Shanghainese pronunciation of Sheshan), is the seminary where the former Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai, Taddheus Ma Daqin, has been spending his so-called “spiritual retreat”. Bishop Ma Daqin was consecrated on 7 July 2012, with papal approval, but announced he was resigning from his position within the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association on the very day he was ordained in order to concentrate more on his ministry. He has been at the seminary ever since and has had no contact with the outside world, which is tantamount to being held under arrest. In December he was stripped of his title as Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai.


Chinese government and public security officials monitor journalists as they delay the start of a religious parade at the Catholic cathedral in Donglu, Hebei Province on Sunday, May 26, 2013. Police surrounded the Chinese village on Sunday to prevent pilgrims from joining the Catholic parade to honour the Virgin Mary, who locals say appeared in the village a century ago. 

DONGLU, China (AFP) - Police surrounded a Chinese village on Sunday to prevent pilgrims from joining a Catholic parade to honour the Virgin Mary, who locals say appeared in the village a century ago.
Authorities placed roadblocks on main roads leading to the small village of Donglu, just a few hours drive from Beijing, where locals - an estimated 90 percent of whom are Catholic - are fiercely devoted to Mary.
"Police don't let any outsiders into the village during May... it's been like that for years," a local believer who identified herself as Maria said, standing by the towering spires of a church which dominates the village's skyline.
Donglu's Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary appeared in the sky above the village in 1900, terrifying attackers from the anti-foreign Boxer uprising, which also targeted Catholics, into an awestruck retreat.

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