According to the Pontifical Yearbook 2006, the diocesan territory covered an area of 25,000 sq. kilometers in 1950.
Ankang was split off from Hanzhong Vicariate and became Hinganfu Apostolic Prefecture in 1928. It remained under the administration of the Italian Conventual Franciscans until all foreign missioners were expelled from China in the 1950s.
Before communist rule began in 1949, seminarians from Ankang diocesan area studied at either the major seminary in Hanzhong or the one in Kaifeng, which was run by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
Ankang has never had a big Catholic community. The territory that the Ankang Diocese covers was estimated in 1950 to have 3,982 Catholics and 19 churches.
After the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Ankong diocese faced a pitiful situation: Church properties were confiscated, churches were destroyed and very few priests were left. Bishop Anthony Li Du'an of Xi'an administered Ankangin 1988. He ordained nine young priests from 1990 to 1999, restored three churches and opened two clinics. He ordained Bishop John Baptist Ye Ronghua, an elderly priest from the neighboring Hanzhong diocese, as the first Chinese bishop of Ankang on December 10, 2000.
The diocese now has six priests in their 30s and 40s serving 4,200 Catholics in the smallest diocese in Shaanxi province. Two other priests are on study leave and teach in the Xi'an minor seminary. The Catholic population doubled after Bishop Ye was ordained as Ankang's first Chinese bishop on December 10, 2000. Their number is now almost the same as in the 1950s, when political turmoil in the past decades caused Catholics to disperse.
Ankang is a financially backward diocese in Shaanxi. Every priest has a monthly stipend of 100 yuan (US$12), but nothing for medical or evangelization purposes. Catholics in the diocese are mainly farmers, workers and businessmen, and the others are unemployed and retirees. Many families barely earn enough to feed themselves and can offer little to the Church.
Ankang's new diocesan complex building was completed and was opened in June 2009, with a floor area of 1,832 sq.meter.
The permanent resident population of Ankang was three million at the end of 2007 — an increase of 2,400 more than the previous year — as per the government reports. There are 23 ethnic groups who live together, such as Hui, Man, Mongolian, Miao, Bai, Dong, Zhuang and so on. The Han nationality accounts for 99.1 percent of the total population of the city and the other minority groups account for 0.9 percent.
There is an airport and since 2001, a new railway track from Ankang and Xi'an, the province capital.
A highway from Ankang to Xi'an was opened in May 2009.
Ankang is located in the region of continental subtropical monsoon climate. It has four distinctive seasons, abundant rain, long frost-free periods and obvious vertical regional climate. The annual average temperature is around 12ºC in Ningshan and Zhenping County and about 15ºC in other counties. The total number of annual sunshine hours is between 1,495.6 and 1,836.2, and the annual rainfall, between 750 and 1,100 millimeters.
The frost-free period is as long as 210-270 days, which lasts on an average of more than eight months. The main features of the climate are: a cold winter with a little rain and snow; a rainy summer with drought; a warm and dry spring; a cool and wet fall with much constant rain. The main severe weather is summer drought, rainstorm and constant rain.
The economy of the city is basically industrial, mainly in textile and silk weaving, chemicals, building materials, food and mining. The food production highlights chestnuts, oranges, kiwi fruits and kiwi fruit liquors.
The GDP per capita of Ankang was 8,802 yuan (US$1,288) in 2008, an increase of 14.99 percent than the previous year.
Ankang is located towards the southeast of Shaanxi Province, about 1,050 kilometers southwest of Beijing. The city of Ankang covers 23,529 sq. kilometers, which accounts for 11.4 percent of the territory of Shaanxi Province.
The city's southern part lies to the north of Daba Mountains and the northern part lies close to the main ridge of Qinling Mountains. It stretches 200 kilometers from west to east and 240 kilometers from north to south. Hanjiang River traverses through from west to east, and makes up the natural physiognomy of "a river between two mountains".
The highest part of the city is situated towards the east side of Qinling Mountains, with an altitude of 2,964.6 meters and the lowest part, which is located at the exit of Hanjiang River in Baihe County, is 170 meters above sea level.
Ankang has unique geographic advantages, being situated at the geometric centre of three economic districts — Xi'an, Wuhan, and Chongqing. It adjoins Hubei Province in the east, Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in the south. In Shaanxi Province, Ankang borders the capital city of Xi'an and Shangluo City in the north and Hanzhong City in the west.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.