St. Saviour's Cathedral, the only preserved Gothic-style church in Anhui, was reopened this Easter, April 16, 2017, after being closed for five years due to renovations.
On the day of reopening, the century-old Cathedral held its first formal service after the church service was suspended because of damage in the church building caused by the Japanese army four decades ago.
The renovation of the church started on May 28, 2012, and the principal part of the project was completed on Oct 10, 2015. It was then immediately followed by interior fit-out and furnishing. Before the restoration, the church staff of Anqing relocated the 38 households, who lived in the cathedral, after more than a decade's effort.
Rev. Zheng Yuguo, chairman of Anqing TSPM, told CCD that many Chinese traditional elements will be blended into the internal fit-out and furnishing of the church, such as painted colored windows.
As one of the ten Gothic cathedrals of the former Anglican church in China, the church originally belonged to the US Episcopal Church (TEC), and its construction started in 1900 and completed in 1903. In 1991, it was listed as a municipality protected historic site.
The aerial view of the majestic church is like a cross. Its length is 42.6 meters, and it was built flat with black bricks and lime pointing. The exquisite workmanship seen in the church is of great historical and cultural value.
In 1910, the church was the main Cathedral for both Anhui and Jiangxi parish, and it had jurisdiction over Anhui and Jiangxi on church matters. In 1938, the Japanese army invaded Anqing. The main chapel of the Cathedral of Holy Savior was damaged, but the main structure was still intact. During the Cultural Revolution, the church was converted into staff quarters by shoe factories and other businesses. After the reform and opening up program in 1970, the church qualified as an ancient church that covered the largest area in the whole province.
In 1984, the municipal government implemented a new religious policy and gave the entire church back to Anqing Church. In Oct 2014, when Bishop Ding Guangxun, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the time, was inspecting work in Anqing, he proposed to restore the Cathedral of Holy Savior to the municipal government of Anqing. He also wrote an inscription "Actively protect religious and cultural heritage and strive to promote the construction of historical and cultural sites in Anqing."
Translated by Karen Luo