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Thursday, March 04, 2021
church & ministry
A Rural Cathedral in Transportation Hub of Hongtong County
A Catholic church in Guluo Village, Quting Town, Hongdong County, Shanxi. A Catholic church in Guluo Village, Quting Town, Hongdong County, Shanxi.

A few days ago, when I passed through Guluo Village, Quting Town, Hongtong County, Shanxi Province, I saw a towering Gothic Catholic church on the south side of the road that has unique characteristics. It is particularly eye-catching. The whole building is built of red bricks. It stands on a high slope, with the Fen’anze section of national highway 309 in the front, and the Expressway from Qingdao to Lanzhou in the back.

Built on a high slope, one needs to look up to see the whole view. This symbolizes that you have to look up to the almighty God to show your devotion. To reach the front door, you need to ascend at a forty or fifty-degree angle, just as the believer of God must strive upward to reach Him. At the top of the gate is a ten-meter-high steeple, topped with a towering cross. Below the tower is a bell tower inscribed with three powerful official characters, namely "Tian Zhu Tang (Catholic Church)". The second floor is constructed as an arch structure made of bricks, following the local Shanxi structure of a cave-dwelling. The door is triangular in shape. In the middle of the door, there is a circle with a cross in the middle. Under the cross is inscribed words "JHS" (For Jesus hominum salvato in Latin). An antithetical couplet is engraved in gold characters on black background. The first line of the couplet is "The world is refreshed with the extraordinary splendour due to the endless love of God". The second line is "The universe is filled with wonderful light because of the mighty power of the Father". Both sides of the wall are inscribed with slogans. They are "Spread the teachings of Jesus" and "Promote the spirit of Christ". After entering the courtyard, one has to walk up dozens of steps to enter the chapel.

It is a pity that the door is locked because of the epidemic and we cannot visit. Looking around and through the iron gate, you can see green trees in and out of the courtyard, with lush vegetation all over, which makes for a unique scene in the quiet village. Occasionally, cars roar past, bringing people back to the hustle and bustle of modern civilization.

According to the data, Guluo Village(古罗), originally named Guluo(古逻) Village, was a town in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was located at the junction of Southeast Hongdong County and Guxian County and was a transportation hub and a military stronghold to southeast Jin. It got its name for being a checkpoint and patrol station.

The village is 25 kilometers away from Hongdong county and 15 kilometers away from Quting Town. It has 7 groups of villagers with a total of more than 2,000 people. The shape of the village boundary is like a phoenix. In the village, there are two pools and a locust tree that is one hundred years old. During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in 1938, General Zuoquan set up his headquarters in the village to command a battle in which Japanese troops were ambushed on August 26. The battle was a complete victory.

There are 200 Catholics in the village. It is unknown when the Gospel was first preached here. The first Catholic villager had the surname of Gao. During the Republic of China, a church was built. But later it was demolished by the Japanese during the Anti-Japanese War. After the reform and opening up, the church was rebuilt, and the church of God is refreshed with a new look. Many of the gates are inscribed with words like "Blessed by God" and "The glory of God is overflowing", indicating their persistent pursuit of faith.

(The author of this article is an elder of a church in Shanxi.)

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