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OUR LADY OF BLISS, POPULAR PILGRIMAGE FOR CATHOLICS IN SOUTHWEST CHINA

Updated: May 22, 1991 05:00 PM GMT
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Every year in May, about 7,000 to 8,000 Catholic pilgrims pray to Our Lady of Bliss on a hill north of Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, southwestern China.

Our Lady of Bliss is a popular pilgrimage for Catholics not only in Guizhou, but also in other neighboring areas, such as Yunnan province.

According to a Guiyang Catholic, each year pilgrims come to pray there every day in May and October. More than 10,000 Catholics visit the hill on Sept. 8, feast of the Nativity of Mary.

Pilgrims recite prayers and make the Way of the Cross while they walk up to the hill, about a half-hour car ride from Guiyang city.

Although the original Church of Our Lady of Bliss was destroyed during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, liturgical services are now held in a chapel of the former seminary near the site of the original church on the hill.

Pilgrims also gather in the former seminary´s courtyard which can accommodate hundreds.

Processions with prayers and hymn singing are also held along the way up the hill on Sept. 8.

Catholics there said they hoped a new church dedicated to Our Lady of Bliss would be constructed in the future.

The original church was built about 200 years ago, a Guiyang Catholic said, and there was also the Saint Joseph´s Church, which was demolished during the Cultural Revolution turmoil.

An Oct. 5, 1990, report in "God Loves China," a monthly from the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, said the original Church of Our Lady of Bliss was built during the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911) to strengthen Catholics´ faith.

At that time, the local Church was persecuted and many Catholics worried that they too might suffer.

The bishop and priests then asked the faithful to rely on Mary the help of Christians, and built the Church of Our Lady of Bliss.

Since then, the report said, a continuous stream of Catholics came to the church on pilgrimage.

During the Cultural Revolution, religious activities were banned. The hill became a restricted area and Catholics could not go there, the report said.

Pilgrimages gradually resumed in the 1980s, after China restored its policy of freedom of religion in 1979.

END

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