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Archdiocese of Changsha
Archdiocese of Changsha

Changsha is the provincial capital of Hunan, in central China. It is located in the northeastern part of the province, spanning an area of 11,819 sq. kilometres. The city has five districts, three counties and one county-level city under its jurisdiction.

Hunan literally means "the south of lake”. It is located to the south of the Lake Dongting, which is the third-largest lake in China. With the Xiang River crossing from its north to south, Hunan was given the short name of Xiang. The province is administratively divided into 13 cities and an autonomous prefecture.

Population

Changsha had a total population of 7.4 million in the year 2015, whereas the Hunan province had a total population of 67.4 million in 2014.

Language

The Xiang dialect is widely spoken in the diocesan territory, besides Mandarin.

Mao Zedong, the first president (chairman) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was a native of Xiangtan, Hunan. He attended the high school in Changsha and had a strong Xiang accent when he spoke Mandarin.

History

In 1856, the Vatican split the Apostolic Vicariate of Huguang into the Apostolic Vicariates of Hubei and Hunan, in the two neighbouring provinces. Hunan Vicariate was further divided in 1879 into Apostolic Vicariates of Northern Hunan and Southern Hunan. They were entrusted respectively to Italian Franciscans and Spanish Augustinian friars. Bishop Antonio Fantosati, O.F.M. took office as the second Apostolic Vicar of Southern Hunan in 1892 and moved the Church administration to Hengzhou.

The Hengzhou Massacre took place in the jurisdiction of the vicariate on July 3, 1900, during the Boxer Uprising (1899-1901). Some 30,000 people rushed into a church to beat the priests there and they burnt the injured Father Cesidio da Fossa, O.F.M. to death. The mob also set the church building and a nursery on fire. Noting the incident, Bishop Fantosati returned with Father Giuseppe Maria Gambaro, O.F.M. from Laiyang, where he supervised the reconstruction of the demolished church. Upon their arrival, they were beaten to death and their bodies burnt. In the following days, some 30 churches in six counties were all burnt to ashes.

Pope John Paul II canonized the three Franciscan friars, among the 120 Chinese martyrs, on October 1, 2000.

The vicariate was renamed in 1924 after the church administration relocated to Changsha. Its territory was carved out in 1925, 1930, 1937 and 1938 respectively, for the establishment of the Yongzhou (Lingling) Prefecture, Hengzhou (Hengyang) Vicariate, Xiangtan Prefecture and Baoqing (Shaoyang) Prefecture.

Statistics showed that in 1949, there were about 60,000 Catholics and 355 churches in nine ecclesiastic territories managed by the Italian Franciscans, Spanish Augustinians and the American members of the Congregation of Passion.

When the foreign missioners were expelled in 1952 after the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Archbishop Lacchio returned to Italy. Accepting the invitation of Cardinal Antonio Riberi, who resigned as the Apostolic Nuncio to China in 1951, the archbishop went to Taiwan to help receive missioners working in China, and then assist the evangelization in Taiwan. Archbishop Joseph Kuo Joshih, the then-prefect of the Taipei prefecture, entrusted Taoyuan county to Archbishop Lacchio, where a church was built in the vicinity.

In 1999, the government-sanctioned "open" Church authorities restructured the ecclesial territories into six dioceses and later merged them into Hunan diocese in 1999.

Transportation

Changsha has access to river transportation. It remains the busiest port on the Xiang River and is open to traffic services that reach Xiangtan and Yueyang cities within the province.

Hunan has five airports, with one of them in Changsha ranking fifth in terms of the construction area and twelfth in terms of passenger capacity, in China.

Hunan is located along the Beijing-Guangzhou line, with Changsha station as one of the three major stops. It brings passengers to Beijing in the north in about 16 hours and Guangzhou in the south in about 12 hours. Its highway system offers convenient access to every part of the landlocked province.

Climate

Changsha has a subtropical monsoon climate with four distinctive seasons. The average temperature is 17 degrees Celsius and the annual precipitation is about 1,361mm.

Hunan has a subtropical monsoon climate with four distinctive seasons. The average temperature ranges from 16-19 degrees Celsius, and the annual rainfall ranges from 1,200-1,700mm. Monthly rainfall in Hunan varies considerably with each season. The transit period between the seasons of spring and summer or summer and autumn witnesses considerable change in the weather, with unexpected summer rainstorms.

Economy

Changsha's urban areas are the industrial, trade and financial centres of the province while its rural areas are famous for grain production and pig rearing. In 2010, the value-added output of the secondary and tertiary industries accounted for 63.1% and 35.6% of the city's GDP, respectively.

By the end of 2010, Changsha had established two state-level development zones, namely the Changsha Economic and Technological Development Zone and Changsha High-Tech Industrial Development Zone. The pillar industries include machinery, Chinese medicine and biopharmaceuticals, new material, automaking and auto parts.

Hunan is the country's largest paddy rice-growing province and it ranks second in pig rearing. By-products of the farm produce, including cotton, oilseeds and ramie, are processed here.

Education

Hunan University traces its history back to the Yuelu Academy founded in 976 during the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Yuelu Academy, one of the four earliest academies in Chinese history, is now a college at the University, offering a degree in history.

Culture

Hunan had been a place of prominence in the history of China, with many political incidents and warfare taking place in the province.

The oldest folklore was that of the great politician-poet Qu Yuan (340BC-278BC), who jumped into the Miluo River near Changsha, to lay his life lamenting the capture of his country's capital. He committed ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era. People had great respect for him, so they brought dumplings to where Qu immersed himself, in order to keep the fish away from eating his body. They also beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles to cast away the evil spirits. This accounts for the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival, which now the people of Chinese use as an opportunity to teach the younger generation about patriotism.

In the early years of the 19th century, it was in Hunan where the Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War, was suppressed.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Hunan was an important warfront where the Chinese had resisted the Japanese invasion. Before and after the War, Hunan, the birthplace of Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, was where the key figures of the Communist Party gathered to make plans.

Changsha has become an important creative centre for media and entertainment arts, with its many TV stations and film city producing some of the most popular entertainment programmes in China.

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