Guanxi Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Guanxi Sacred Heart Catholic Church
(lienyuan lee @CC BY 3.0) 

Chinese name: 關西天主堂
Located in: Guanxi Township, Hsinchu County

Built in 1956, the Guanxi Sacred Heart Catholic Church is one of the most characteristic historical buildings and the center of the Catholic Church in Guanxi Township of Hsinchu County. After more than 60 years, this church still stands in this Hakka settlement, and it has always been an important local landmark.

In 1954, several Canadian priests who had just been expelled by the Chinese Communist Party in China came to Guanxi to preach. For the Hakka residents who have always worshipped Tiangong (天公), God of Earth (土地公), Guanshiyin (觀世音), and Mazu (媽祖), it’s difficult for them to quickly accept Christianity, a totally different belief. In addition, there are barriers to language communication. Although the priests had studied Chinese in China in the early days, Taiwan had only been out of Japanese rule for a few years, and most people were not very proficient in Chinese. 

However, these priests were very patient in finding ways to integrate into the local life, and they asked local teachers to set up Hakka classes to teach them the Hakka language, creating many opportunities to get close to the villagers and let them know about God. Because of the hardship of the early residents, the missionaries and pastors at that time also played a role of providing financial support, and they were highly respected and loved by the public as a result. 

After seeing the increasing number of church members, one of the priests actively sought land in the Guanxi region, and sought financial support from his brother to purchase 2,350 square meters of land. And from then, he started to plan the construction of the church, which was finally completed on April 15, 1956.

The location of the Catholic church is at the entrance to the streets of Guanxi. The exterior is a Gothic spire building, with gray-and-white washed stone walls, roof spires and arched stained glass windows. It is a very exotic building in the Guanxi region. Inside the church, the delicately carved and lifelike statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, against the backdrop of the stained-glass windows on both sides, are tranquil and serene. The church is a striking landmark in Guanxi Township. Although the Guanxi Sacred Heart Catholic Church is not an officially designated monument, anyone in Guanxi will remember this old building full of nostalgic memories.