In a land area of 45,000 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers 14 counties and cities in southeastern Gansu province, northwestern China. Tianshui is 1,100 kilometers southwest of Beijing or 328 kilometers west of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.
The population in the diocesan territory is about 6 million at end of 2004. (The population of the whole country is 1.3 billion). Most residents are ethnic groups of Han, Hui, Tibetan, Dongxiang, Mongolian, Tu, Yugur and Baoan. Gansu has been a multi-ethnic province since ancient times. 54 nationalities have inhabited here.
Catholicism was brought to the Tianshui area as early as 1870. The erection of the diocese came in 1905, when Gansu province, also named Long, meaning surrounded by mountains, was divided into North Long and South Long apostolic vicariates. Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Swiss Franciscan friar known as the poor people's lawyer who was canonized in 1746, was the patron saint for South Long. The two vicariates were then dropped and the area redivided east and west in 1922.
In 1924, East Long vicariate was renamed Qingzhou (Tsinchow, former name of Tianshui). It became a diocese in 1946. First entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, German Capuchins took over the area in 1922.
According to the Pontifical Yearbook, the diocese had in 1950 a number of 45,000 Catholics representing 1.8 percent of the population of 2,500 000. There was a total of 88 priests (78 diocesan, 10 religious) and 33 female Religious serving 24 parishes.
After foreign missionaries were expelled from mainland China, Chinese clergy became responsible for Church affairs in Tianshui. Father Augustine Zhao Jingnong led the diocese since 1951 until he and other priests were arrested in the Cultural Revolution.
In 1981, religious activities revived and Father Zhao was ordained a bishop. Under his leadership, the diocese restored confiscated churches and built new churches, and developed pastoral and evangelistic work. There has been no bishop since he died in 2004.
Gansu province was the start of the ancient Silk Road that indirectly linked China with Europe. Tianshui, 1,100 kilometers southwest from Beijing, is a historical and cultural city, since it was an administrative center for various Chinese dynasties as well as an anthropological center. Monuments and records there can be traced back a far as 7,800 years ago.
Tianshui is thought to be the birthplace of two legendary Chinese figures, Fuxi and Nuwa. Fuxi was a demigod credited with the invention of hunting, fishing and the domestication of animals. Nuwa, his wife, was a goddess who created mankind and used stones to patch the holes in the sky caused by the Spirit of Water.
The region has a temperate monsoonal climate with the marked transitional characteristics of a continental climate. Mean annual temperature is 9 degrees Celsius with July being the hottest month, averaging 20 to 24 degrees Celsius, and January, the coldest month with minus 12 to plus 2 degrees Celsius. The mean annual precipitation is 50-500 mm, decreasing from east to west.
Millet, corn (maize), winter wheat, kaoliang (sorghum), some cotton, and tobacco are grown in the area. Along the railway lie large, unexploited coal deposits. Tianshui is the centre of various industries, including machinery, textiles, electrical appliances, and tractors; other products are wine, furniture, and fine lacquerware.
The city stands in a small fertile basin, watered by a long-established irrigation system.
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.