Cizhong Catholic Church

Hidden in the Lanchang River valley, Cizhong Catholic Church was built by the French over a century ago. Yunnan Province borders Vietnam, so in the 19th century some French missionaries ventured north to get into this remote part of China. The small church was originally built in the late 1800s, but it was burned down in an anti-foreign riot some years later. In 1909 the church was rebuilt, which features a Gothic main body, topped with a Chinese-style pavillion.

Cizhong is the name of the village in which the church stands. Among the residents are Tibetans, Lisu, Naxi, and Bai, all minority peoples in China. About half of the villagers consider themselves Catholics, although this is mainly a matter of tradition - there are no Catholic priests in the village, and the following of the religion - going to church on Sunday morning, takes place spontaneously. The Catholics and the others in the village, mostly Buddhists, often join each other in some common festivities. For the folk here, it's just the worship of the divine, and particular religious differences do not matter all that much.

Cizhong is located 80 km south of Deqin. One can take a bus to get there, but it is not an easy ride as the road leading to the village winds up and down some rugged mountains.

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