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Travel to The Xishiku Church

Two days before Spring Festival, Beijing gets quieter unexpectedly. It is warm with the sunshine even if the wind flows. At the end of Hutong, a gate stands there.

Entering the gate, a featured Gothic church appears. On the way to the church, two Gothic brick houses are built at each side. These houses are priest’s office, simply equipped with door and red windows. The eaves curl upwards like horn. Inside the office, bookshelf, desk and green fabric sofa are well placed. It seems that they are kept originally although the world outside changes a lot.

Getting close to the church, two Chinese pavilions stand in front of it. Stone tablet was carved in Qing Dynasty and the characters are written by Emperor Qianlong. Miraculously, Chinese pavilions and Gothic church live in harmony.

Near the right pavilion, an altar is heaped up by stones to worship Virgin Mary. As approaching to the Spring Festival, the altar is decorated by artificial flowers. They look fantastic with the snow.

On the wall of church, we saw the statue of saints and well-known missionaries surrounding them, such as Giuseppe Castiglione, and Johann Adam Schall von Bell. These missionaries made great contributions to building Saviour Church.

The main entrance is locked usually, but we could enter through side doors in the west. People just finished singing the hymn just now. Not for a while, the church came into peaceful again. It’s tranquil and only few locals were doing prayers. Seating in the Old Town of Beijing, The Church of the Saviour is surrounded by the local black-brick houses -Siheyuan. People here live an easy and comfortable life, though they are not so rich. Come here, pray and then leave, this has been part of their lives.

Inside the church, three elders were guarding. Couples of silver-covered pillars support the golden vault. It shows us the solemnity of the church, so that we couldn’t help lowering our voices and slowing down our pace. Colorful lattice windows attracted our eyes immediately. To avoid offending, we asked if photographing is allowed. They agreed happily, but asked us not to bother others.
One volunteer told us, the original lattice window is more exquisite and colorful with complicated pictures. Those simple pictures are fixed.

As we know, there is only one altar in the church. But three altars are set in the Xishiku Church, the main altar for Jesus, Virgin Mary in the east and Joseph in the west.

Xishiku Church is the reward from Emperor Kangxi. In 1703, Emperor Kangxi was seriously ill and imperial physicians could do nothing helpful to cure the emperor. But Missionary Hong Ruo and Liu Ying presented the western medicine and the emperor recovered immediately. The emperor was so happy that he awarded a piece of land to missionaries. The whole projects lasted 4 years. When the church is finished, emperor Kangxi named it Xishiku Church, inscribed the words: 萬有真原 and a couplets. The horizontal inscribed border remains well now, but the couplets are copy. 

More interestingly, here are two Chinese-style portraits of Virgin Mary. All of them are Asian looking and one in Manchu costume and the other in Korean costume.

At the back of exit, a painting of The Last Supper is hanging. Surprisingly, the painter indicated the name of every disciple.

At 3:00p.m., the sun began to set. It’s time for locals to return home and prepare dinner. After prayer, they made a small talk and chatted in dialect.