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Diocese of Sanyuan

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Diocese of Sanyuan
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In a land area of 10,196 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the administrative divisions of the two cities of Xianyang and Tongchuan and the 11 counties of Gaoling Jingyang, Sanyuan, Liqan, Qianxian, Binxian, Changwu, Yongshou, Xunyi, Chunhua, Yaoxin and Xingping.

Sanyuan, 50 kilometers north of Xi'an, the capital of the Shaanxi province, is the bishop's seat. The place has 8 Catholic churches. At Zhangerce Catholic church, an unofficial Bishop's Conference was formed on Nov. 21, 1989.

Xianyang, the center city, is located in the center of the north-central province of Shaanxi, 24 kilometers west of Xi'an. It is a former capital (the first Chinese imperial capital) of China.


In Xiangyang city, the population is 4.83 million at end of 2007. (The population of the whole country is 1.3 billion). Nearly all the people in Shaanxi are ethnic Han Chinese, with pockets of Hui population in the north western region.

Priests in Sanyuan (Xianyang), Shaanxi, where all the churches are in rural areas, commend their "devout and generous" local Catholics, noting that most of the churches were designed and built by lay Catholics.

Many Catholic peasants, though living on small incomes, often contribute agricultural produce and manual work to the parish.


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


Sanyuan is said to be the birthplace of Catholicism in Shaanxi province, which can be dated back to the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Franciscan and Jesuit missioners have arrived here to spread the Gospel successively.

The Prefecture Apostolic of Sanyuan was erected on Nov. 1, 1931. On June 4, 1932, Father Ferdinando Fulgencio Pasini, O.F.M. was appointed Prefect of Sanyuan. On July 13, 1944, he was apointed Vicar Apostolic of Sanyuan with the elevation of the prefecture to a vicariate apostolic. His episcopal ordination was on Dec. 17, 1944. On April 11, 1946, Bishop Pasini was appointed Bishop of Sanyuan. On the same day, the vicariate apostolic was elevated to Diocese of Sanyuan. At the age of almost 86, the bishop resigned in 1983. He died on April 17, 1985.

According to the Pontifical Yearbook, the diocese had 12,043 baptized Catholics in 1950, representing 1.1 percent of the 1,115,777 people then in the territory. 8 diocesan and 17 Religious priests, a total of 25, served the community at that time. There were 2 male Religious and 39 female.

Besides its long history of Catholic missionary activities, Sanyuan is also famous for a meeting of underground bishops held at St. Joseph's Church in Zhangerce village, Gaoling county, which later became known because the majority of bishops who took part in it were later arrested.

After Bishop Pasini died, Pope John Paul II appointed Father Joseph Zong Huaide as bishop of Sanyuan in 1985. Bishop Zong was ordained clandestinely at the age of 65 two years later. He received recognition from the government to work openly since 1992 until the pope approved his retirement in 2003.

His successor Bishop Joseph Han Yingjin was elected as bishop candidate in 2007. He was ordained with both papal and government approval on June 24, 2010. Currently, the government still regards Bishop Zong as the ordinary bishop and Bishop Han as his coadjutor.


The Longhai Railway, known as the Euro-Asian Continental Bridge, expressways from Xi'an city to Tongchuan city, and from Xi'an city to Baoji city, and No. 312, 310 and 210 state highways all pass through Xianyang area. The Xi'an-Xianyang International Airport serves 4 million passengers and is only 9 kilometers away from Xianyang city. There is a good public transport system.


Xianyang has a continental season wind climate and the average annual temperature is 11,6 degrees Celsius, and the average yearly rainfall is 590mm. Xianyang has 2,223 hours of sunshine per year and the frost-free period is 208 days. The wind force is degree 2 to 3 normally and the average annual wind speed is 3 meters per second.


Xianyang is an important agricultural base in West China; rich in grain, fruits, livestock and vegetables. It is said that the legendary initiator of Chinese agriculture Hou Ji taught people how to carry out farm work here. Xianyang is a large-scale commodity grain base in North West China; it is the largest domestic high-quality apple production site, and is the biggest milk and vegetable supplier area in Shaanxi province, according to the local government.

Xianyang is famous for its Chinese medicine culture as well.

There are more than 5000 industrial companies of various kinds, forming six mainstay industries in Xianyang including electronics, medicine science, food production, energy & chemistry, textile and construction materials.

Xianyang area is very rich in natural resources such as coal, limestone, potter's earth, ore, marble, oil shale, oil, spring water, underground heat water etc. The geothermal water is a type of precious clean energy and it has become the huge potential for the city to be a geothermal water city.


Xianyang city is nestled in the central area of Guanzhong plain, acclaimed as a fertile land in China. To the east it neighbors on Xi'an city, the capital of Shaanxi province.To the west, it adjoins the Yangling Agricultural High-Tech industries Demonstration Zone. To the north it leans on Jiuzong Mountain, and to the South it faces Qinling Mountain.

There are mainly 8 rivers in Xianyang area, the Wei River, one of the branches of the Yellow River, flows 91 kilometers across Xianyang area. The Jing River, one of the branches of the Wei River, flows 262 kilometers across Xianyang area. There is sufficient water resource in the city. Natural grassland covers over 120,000 hectares and forest covers 17,5 per cent of the total area. In Xianyang area there are about 1,087 million hectares of land, of which 450,000 hectares are arable land, 150,600 hectares are forest, 118,000 hectares are grassland, 24,000 hectares are water surface, and 930,000 hectares are waste land to be developed.


In Xianyang there are 3,454 schools, colleges and universities, of which are 5 colleges and universities, 11 secondary specialized schools, 35 vocational schools, 327 middle schools and 3,076 primary schools, according to the local government. 80 technician training schools and vocational schools in Xianyang are able to provide forty thousand professional technicians and high quality labors every year.


Shaanxi Province is one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization. It boasts a variety of historic and cultural resources, including historic sites, ancient buildings, ancient tombs, bronze ware, and stone inscriptions.

Xianyang is the very place where the first Chinese feudal empire, Qin Empire, set its capital (221BC). It had also served as a capital for thirteen dynasties including Zhou, Han and Tang Empire. Now, there are 4,951 culture sites, 85 of which are ranked as national and provincial key culture relics under protection, in Xianyang. The 27 Imperial Mausoleums and Tombs (very much resembling a pyramid) in particular, are the places where 28 mighty emperors of Han and Tang Dynasty rest. A number of imperial tombs now have become well-known tourist attractions.

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