Located in Nantai Island, Cangshan District, on the south bank of Minjiang River, Fanchuanpu Catholic Church is a Provincial Cultural Relics Protection Unit in Fujian. The church was built in 1864 of Qing Dynasty and rebuilt in 1933. It covers an area of 8,400 square meters with a construction area of 1,254 square meters. It is a Gothic building. Nowadays, it is still the largest Catholic church in Fujian in Fujian Province.
History of Fanchuanpu Catholic Church
According to the recordings, in 1625 of Ming Dynasty, Fuzhou’s Minister Ye Xianggao (1559-1627) returned to his hometown. When passing Hangzhou, he met the Italian missionary Giulio Aleni (1582-1649). Giulio Aleni went to Fujian with Ye together. Late, Giulio Aleni preached in Fuzhou and built a church there, named Sanshan Church, which was the earliest Catholic church in Fuzhou.
Aleni entered the Society of Jesus in 1600 and was sent to the East. He arrived in Macau in 1610 and went to the mainland of China three years later. He stayed in China for more than 30 years, where he adopted Chinese traditional dress and manners. Aleni built 22 churches in total in his whole life.
Most of the churches were reconstructed based on the old private residences. Although the appearances of the original buildings were retained, the interior decorations were westernized. From about 1848 to 1936, during more than 80 years, the most prosperous educational institutions in Fuzhou mainly include Fanchuanpu Catholic Church, Ximen Sanguan Church, Cangshan Lequn Church, and Shangdu Catholic Church.
Features of Fanchuanpu Catholic Church
The church has the brick-wood structure, and the outer wall is made of blue bricks. It sits to the north, facing the Minjiang River, solemn and magnificent. The inside of the church has a Basilica style layout. The cross-shape church is 60.2 meters long and 19.5 meters wide, which can accommodate more than 3,000 people.
Inside the church, there are 11 European-style cement columns, with a diameter of about 1 meter. The top of the church has the arched dome decorated with exquisite patterns.
There are 5 altars in the church. The central altar is dedicated to Lady of the Rosary, and the other four small altars are dedicated to Jesus’ foster father Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the Virgin Delan.
The windows on the walls are decorated with the multicolored glasses, colorful and shiny. The second floor of the church is a 20-meter long and 6-meter wide chanting table, which is opposite to the altar.
At the north of the church, there is a bell tower of more than 30 meters high, which was equipped with a large clock imported from France. In the past, the bell told the time to the city, which is known as the "Jiangnan First Lobby". A cross of nearly 3 meters high is erected on the top of the building.