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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

All you need to know about the Church in the Philippines in one click
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Diocese of Puqi

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Diocese of Puqi
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In a land area of approximately 33.484 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the prefecture-level cities of Xianning, Huangshi, Huanggang and Ezhou in the southeastern part of Hubei province.

Population

Chibi has a population of 506,509, while the total population of the four prefecture-level cities that the diocese covers is about 13 million.

Language

Mandarin Chinese and Hubei dialect are in use in the diocesan territory.

History

Puqi diocese in the southeastern part of Hubei province is one of the first six native dioceses in China. It was created in 1923 as an apostolic prefecture and was promoted to a diocese in 1951. Its first bishop, Odorico Tcheng He-de, and other five Chinese bishops were ordained by Pope Pius XI in Rome in 1926.

Before the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949, Puqi has 8 churches, 2 elementary schools, 2 clinics and an orphanage, served by some 10 priests and some 20 Religious sisters. However, there is no record of the number of Catholics at that time.

The ecclesiastical territory of Puqi was restructured in 2001, which covers 4 prefecture-level cities and their subordinate counties. Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, who is not approved by the pope, heads the diocese. His cathedral is located at Chibi city, which was renamed from Puqi. The elderly prelate resides in Beijing for more than a decade.

Puqi diocese currently has 6 churches, 9 priests, 6 nuns and about 10,000 faithful.

Transportation

Xianning has major rail lines, including the Beijing-Guangzhou line, many national highways, and a large stretch of the Yangtze River, making it an important transportation and shipping center.

The two passenger train stations within the prefecture-level city of Xianning - the one in Xianning urban area itself (80 kilometres from Wuhan's Wuchang train station), and the one in Chibi (118 kilometres from Wuchang) - are usually the first and the second stops for the slower trains leaving Wuchang toward Changsha and Guangzhou. Typical travel times from Wuchang is 40-50 min and 1 hour 20 min, respectively.

State Highway 106, State Highway 107 and State Highway 316 run through the city, linking it with other cities in China.

Climate

Xianning's climate is continental. Average annual temperature is 17 degrees Celsius and precipitation is 1,400 mm.

Economy

Agriculture and forestry are two of Xianning's biggest industries. It is known by the three names, "City of Osmanthus", "City of Nan Bamboo", and "City of Tea". There are more than 1 million mu (6 English acres) of "Nan" Bamboo, 30,000 Chinese acres of osmanthus, and more than 150,000 Chinese acres of tea.

Mineral resources are also an important part of Xianning's economy. Niobium, gold, magnesium, antimony, monazite, coal, manganese, vanadium, mica, and marble are all mined or quarried in Xianning.

Topography

Puqi is the old name of Chibi city. The renaming in 1998 was to tie the city to the famous historical Battle of Chibi. It is administratively a county-level city of Xianning city.

Xianning neighbors Jiangxi Province to the south, Hunan Province to the west, and Wuhan and Huangshi cities to the north. It is hilly and mountainous (especially in its southern part), with some flatlands (mostly in the north) and lakes.

Culture

Xianning's history can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago. During the Xia and Shang Dynasties, it belonged to Jingchu. During the Qin Dynasty, it was controlled by Nan Shire. Xianning got its current name in AD1007 during the Song Dynasty.

The site of Ancient Chibi (Red Cliff) Battlefield in Chibi city, a county-level city of Xianning, is where the famous Chibi War of the Three Kingdoms Period occurred in AD208.

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