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Diocese of Caozhou (Heze)
Diocese of Caozhou (Heze)

Heze Diocese covers eight counties, a district, and a development area. The Diocese was separated from the administration of Yanzhou Diocese in 1932, and was erected as an Apostolic Vicariate in 1937. It was made a diocese in the year 1946, and it came under the care of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) until the 1950s. According to Vatican’s Annuario Pontificio, Heze had the largest number of Catholics—72,000, among the other 10 dioceses in Shandong, before the establishment of People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. All foreign missioners were expelled and the local clergy were persecuted in the 1950s.

There had been more than 30 churches, including a beautiful cathedral, but by the time of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), all of them were damaged or demolished. Heze went decades with no clergy as well as no church. When Bishop Wang Dianduo was ordained the bishop of Heze in 2000, the diocese did not have a single church, and there was only one priest assisting the bishop. The Rosary Church was built in 2001, and it was the only major place of worship in the diocese.

Population

Heze has a population of 8.98 million.

Language

Mandarin and Shandong dialect are in use.

Transportation

In the city, Beijing- Jiulong railway and New Eurasian Continental Bridge intersect with each other, so do Rizhao-Dongying speedway, Jinan-Heze speedway and Heze-Lanzhou speedway, as well as national and provincial highways, making its traffic quite accessible to residents and passengers.

Climate

Heze has four well-defined seasons—cold, dry winters, hot, humid summers, crisp autumns, and warm, rainless springs. The annual mean temperature is recorded at 13.7 degree Celsius. The monthly average temperatures range from -0.9 degree Celsius in January to 26.8 degree Celsius in July. Heavy rains are rare, and it mainly occurs during summer, with an occasional snowfall during winter.

Economy

Peony, the national flower, is cultivated largely in Heze. Peony is also known by the name mudan, after which a district in Heze was named. Peony sales account for more than 30% of the national income.

Topography

Heze (formerly Caozhou) is a prefecture-level city in the southwestern Shandong province with plains and low mountains. It borders Jining to the east, and the provinces of Henan and Anhui to the west and south respectively.

Education

Heze University, Heze Medical College, Shandong University of Combined Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine (Heze Branch), and Shandong Heze Academy of Music and Arts are located in the city.

Culture

Heze is known as “China Peony City” and it is the national base of cultivating the peony for domestic and international flower markets. The city also holds “Heze Internationl Peony Fair” annually.

Heze is also home to the "Chinese opera, Chinese martial arts and calligraphy and painting.” It is one of the most famous historical and cultural resorts with more than 100 places of interest such as Sun Bin Tourist Town and Fang Mountain.

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