Anguo is located around 100 kilometers northeast to the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang and about 60 kilometers south to the prefectural-level city of Baoding. The diocese covers two county-level cities of Anguo and Dingzhou, and two counties, Boye and Lixian, which are all under the jurisdiction of Baoding. The diocese covers a territorial area of 2,743 sq. kilometers.
Anguo, together with Dingzhou, Boye and Lixian, has a population of about 2.34 million.
Mandarin Chinese is popularly used by the people in Anguo.
Erected as Lixian Apostolic Prefecture in 1924, it was made the Apostolic Vicariate of Anguo and was entrusted to Chinese Vincentians in 1929. Bishop Melchior Sun Dezhen C.M. was made the first prefect and the first apostolic vicar in the respective establishment.
Bishop Sun was among the first batch of six Chinese bishops ordained by Pope Pius XI in Vatican in 1926, 241 years after Bishop Gregorius Luo Wenzao was ordained the first Chinese prelate in 1685.
In 1928, Bishop Sun invited Belgian Vincentian Father Vincent Lebbe to help establish the Little Brothers of St. John the Baptist, said to be the first Chinese male religious society, to assist the evangelization process in dioceses managed by Chinese bishops.
Some members of the community, who fled to Hong Kong in 1949 when the Communist Party took over China, went to Taiwan to start missionary work in Taipei and Taichung. Known as the Congregation of St. John the Baptist, they took over the management of Viator Catholic High School in Taichung in 1983, and built their headquarters in the school premises.
The Vatican recognizes 12 dioceses in Hebei, which are under the Archdiocese of Beijing, together with the Tianjin diocese. The “open” church community however reorganized them corresponding to the government administrative divisions. The government later restructured the administrative divisions and placed Anguo under Baoding. However, the “underground” community continues to manage the diocese according to the Vatican’s jurisdiction before 1949.
Anguo is 180 kilometers to the north of Beijing and it takes about two hours to reach the national capital on the Beijing-Shijiazhuang Expressway.
Medicine trading has a history of over 1,000 years in Anguo. Today, it has been developed into a modern industry, combining cultivation and processing with marketing, and has become an important economic pillar of the city.
Anguo has some 8,670 hectares under the cultivation of over 300 types of Chinese medicinal herbs and produces 25 million kg of medicinal herbs annually. Its rhizoma dioscoreae and rhizoma anemarrhenae are sold to Japan, Western Europe and Southeast Asian countries.
Guan Hanqing, a native of Qizhou where now Anguo situates, was lauded as the head of the Four Masters of Yuan Operas. His works best reflected the social lives of the general public during the early Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) under the Mongol emperors.