In a land area of approximately 17,000 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the prefecture-level city of Yuncheng in the southern part of Shanxi province. The city's administrative area includes 1 district (Yanhu), 2 county-level cities (Yongji and Hejin) and 10 counties (Ruicheng, Linyi, Wanrong, Xinjiang, Jishan, Wenxi, Xia, Jiang, Pinglu and Yuanqu).
The total population of Yuncheng is 5,046,000, including the urban population of 1,710,000.
Mandarin Chinese and Zhongyuan dialect (also known as Jinnan dialect) are in use in the diocesan territory.
Yuncheng diocese was formerly called Jiangzhou (Kiangchow). The first two Catholics in Jiangzhou were baptized by Jesuit missioners in early 17th century. In 1620, Italian Jesuit Father Giulio Aleni was invited to spread the Gospel in Jiangzhou, joined by his Belgian confrere Father Nicolas Trigualt four years later. They established a printing house to publish Catholic books and made Jiangzhou an important publishing base of the Church in northern China.
The local Church had developed gradually until the Yongzheng Emperor of Qing Dynasty banned Catholicism in 1724. Jesuit priests were expelled and Church properties were confiscated. In 1732, the first batch of Franciscan missioners arrived in Jiangzhou.
Missionary activities became more active when China was forced to open its doors after it was defeated by Western powers in the mid 19th century. However, the Jiangzhou Church suffered from the Boxer Uprising in 1900, during which churches were damaged and many Catholics were killed by Boxer fighters who were hostile towards foreign religions and its followers.
In 1918, the pastor of Jiangzhou parish formed a seminary and nuns' convent. Religious sisters from the Netherlands run a hospital, an orphanage and a home for the aged to serve the needy.
In 1936, the Prefecture Apostolic of Xinjiang (Jiangzhou) was erected from the Vicariate Apolistolic of Changzhi (Luanfu). As of 1949, there were 7,546 baptized Catholics, served by 3 diocesan priests, 11 Religious priests and 14 Religious sisters, according to the Pontifical Yearbook.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, all foreign missioners were expelled from the mainland. Religious activities was disrupted for three decades due to political turmoil since 1950s.
In 1982, Jiangzhou was renamed Yuncheng diocese and its territory covers 19 cities and counties in accordance with civil administrative boundaries. Father Augustine Zheng Shouduo was ordained clandestinely as the first bishop of Jiangzhou in the same year.
The city has a well-established transportation infrastructure. The Datong-Yuncheng Highway, the Yuncheng-Fenglingdu Highway, the Yuncheng-Sanmengxia Highway and the Dongzhen-Jiyuan Highway connect the city with major cities in Shanxi, Henan and Shaanxi Provinces. The Houma-Xi'an Railway and the Taiyuan-Puzhou Railway run through the city. Yuncheng Guangong Airport operates 11 routes to major domestic cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming and Sanya.
Yuncheng has a continental, monsoon-influenced semi-arid climate, with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold but dry, while summers are hot and humid. Monthly mean temperatures range from ?0.9 degrees Celsius in January to 27.4 degrees Celsius in July, and the annual mean is 14.05 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is concentrated in the warmer months.
Yuncheng is the fourth largest economy in Shanxi Province after Taiyuan, Changzhi and Linfen. In 2010, the city's GDP paced up 15.6 percent from a year earlier to RMB 82.7 billion yuan, ranking fourth among the 11 prefecture-level cities in the province. The value-added output from primary industry, secondary industry and tertiary industry reached RMB 13.55 billion yuan, RMB 37.09 billion yuan and RMB 32.06 billion yuan, comprising 16.4 percent, 44.8 percent and 38.8 percent of the city's GDP, respectively.
Metallurgy, coking, raw chemicals and chemical products, electricity and heat production and supply are the main industries in the city. The combined sales revenue of the pillars amounted to RMB 84.1 billion yuan, accounting for 52.6 percent of the industrial sector.
Yuncheng has rich agricultural products, such as wheat, cotton and apples, as well as abundant mineral resources, such as aluminum, iron and copper.
Yuncheng is situated in the southwestern part of Shanxi province, in the middle reach of the Yellow River. Lying at the intersection of Shanxi, Henan and Shaanxi provinces, the city neighbors Linfen to the north, Jincheng to the east, Weinan in Shaanxi to the west and Sanmenxia in Henan to the south.
Yuncheng, which means "transport city" in Chinese, served as a salt transfer point in ancient times. The city is a birthplace of the Chinese nation. Records of human life in the city extend back to 1.8 million years ago. The first dynasty in Chinese history, Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BC) set up its capital in this territory.
In the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), it was under the control of the Hedong Shire, whose name means "east of the Yellow River". During the following dynasties, it maintained this name. Yuncheng is birthplace of many celebrities in China's history, including Guan Yu (a general during the Three Kingdoms Period), Liu Zongyuan (a great writer during the Tang Dynasty) and Si Maguang (a historian and politician during the Song Dynasty).
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
The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism on the shores of city-state two centuries ago. Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.
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.
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.
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.
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.