- Prefecture Apostolic of Kwang-si
The Prefecture Apostolic of Kwang-si (now spelled
Guangxi) was a Roman Catholic missionary jurisdiction.
The mission of Kwang-si comprised the entire Chinese imperial province of that name, a very mountainous and extremely poor region. The province had a population of about ten million souls divided among several distinct races, the most remarkable of whom are the settlers from the Canton, the Hakkas and the wild
Yao-tseand Miao-tse. The first missionary to Kwang-si was the JesuitFather Michele de Ruggieriwho in 1583 endeavoured without success to establish himself at the capital, Kweilin. Fifty years later the Franciscan, Francesco d'Escalone, arrived at Wu-chou. About the middle of the seventeenth century, Father Andrew Xavier Kofflerbuilt a church at Kwei-lin and baptized at Nan-ning, under the name of Constantine, a son of the Emperor Yung-li, a pretender to the Ming dynasty, who still combatted in the southern part of the empire the advancing Manchuconquerors. Father Michel Boymlaboured in company with Father Koffler. In 1692 Father Jacques Duvallaboured to give further impulse to the work of his predecessors, and then came Fathers Chamayaand Lopez. At the same time the Spanish Augustiniansestablished themselves at Kwei-lin and Wu-chu, and the Franciscans at Ping-lo-fu. All were expelled in 1724 by Emperor Yung Chenand Kwang-si thenceforth remained without missionaries for a hundred and thirty years. In 1848 Kwang-si, united to the mission of Kwang-tung, was confided to the Paris Society of Foreign Missions. In 1854 Blessed Auguste Chapdelainefirst entered the province from Kwei-chou, but was arrested and thrown into the prison of Si-lin-hienten days after his arrival. Liberated after sixteen or eighteen days of captivity, he ministered until 1856. Up until this date he had baptized several hundred catechumens, but he was again arrested, taken to Si-lin, sentenced to death, and executed on 29 February of the same year, with Blessed Laurence Pe-muand Agnes Tsau-kong. In 1866, several missionaries again penetrated Kwang-si, but were unable to stay long. In 1868, Father Mihièrewas appointed superior to the mission of Kwang-si, but died in 1871. Under his direction several missionaries were able to enter the province. Among them was Father Foucard, who evangelized Shang-sze, while labouring in the disguise of a wood-cutter to avoid arousing the suspicions of the mandarins.
On 6 August, 1875,
Pius IXmade Kwang-si a prefecture Apostolic, and placed it under the authority of Father Jolly, previously missionary in Kwang-tung. At this same period were founded the districts of Kwei-hienand of the "hundred thousand mountains" among the wild Yao-tse. Father Jolly died in 1878 and Mgr. Foucard was made titular Bishopof Zelaand Prefect Apostolic of Kwang-si. The Chinese authorities placed many obstacles in the way of the free spread of the Gospel. Mgr. Foucard was obliged to proceed personally to Peking and demand justice, but he obtained no satisfaction. The Franco-Chinese Warof 1884 served to increase the difficulties of this mission. Fathers Lavestand Pernetwere subjected to cruel treatment and several Christian communities were uprooted. Only the communities established among the savages and at Si-lin experienced relative tranquility. Mgr. Foucard died in 1878 and was succeeded by Mgr. Chouzy. Under the direction of the new prefect, other communities were established, and finally a certain measure of liberty was accorded to the missionaries. Often, however, sudden revolts seriously interfered with their labours. Two missionaries, Fathers Mazeland Mathieu Bertholet, were massacred in different districts. In 1899, Mgr. Chouzey died, and in the following year Mgr. Lavest undertook the mission. During the Boxer troublesbut three missions and a few other houses belonging to the Christians were pillaged. Mgr. Lavest subsequently moved his residence from Kwei-hien to Nan-ning, intending to erect a cathedral at the latter place. Two French schools were established, one at Nan-ning, and one at Kwei-lin, by the Little Brothers of Mary. Nuns of St. Paul of Chartresestablished themselves at Nan-ningand Long-chau. During 1908 they relieved 4300 sufferers at their dispensaryin Nan-ning and 4000 at that of Long-chau.
The following figures give the condition of the mission at the various periods named: In 1889, 1 bishop, 11 missionaries, 1 seminary, 21 schools with 211 pupils, 16 churches and chapels, 1249 Catholics. In 1900, 1 bishop, 17 missionaries, 1 seminary with 16 students, 24 schools with 310 scholars, 32 churches and chapels, 110 baptisms of native adults and 61 baptisms of native children, 1536 Catholics. In 1908, 1 bishop, 27 missionaries, 4 native priests, 2 seminaries with 16 students, 34 schools with 379 pupils, 311 baptisms of adults, and 113 baptisms of native children, 4214 Catholics.
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