Prefecture Apostolic of Kwang-si

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-tse and Miao-tse. The first missionary to Kwang-si was the Jesuit Father Michele de Ruggieri who 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 Koffler built 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 Manchu conquerors. Father Michel Boym laboured in company with Father Koffler. In 1692 Father Jacques Duval laboured to give further impulse to the work of his predecessors, and then came Fathers Chamaya and Lopez. At the same time the Spanish Augustinians established themselves at Kwei-lin and Wu-chu, and the Franciscans at Ping-lo-fu. All were expelled in 1724 by Emperor Yung Chen and 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 Chapdelaine first entered the province from Kwei-chou, but was arrested and thrown into the prison of Si-lin-hien ten 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-mu and Agnes Tsau-kong. In 1866, several missionaries again penetrated Kwang-si, but were unable to stay long. In 1868, Father Mihière was 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 IX made 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-hien and of the "hundred thousand mountains" among the wild Yao-tse. Father Jolly died in 1878 and Mgr. Foucard was made titular Bishop of Zela and 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 War of 1884 served to increase the difficulties of this mission. Fathers Lavest and Pernet were 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 Mazel and 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 troubles but 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 Chartres established themselves at Nan-ning and Long-chau. During 1908 they relieved 4300 sufferers at their dispensary in 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.


*Catholic []

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