Towering Churches Attract Numerous Visitors During the Spring Festival

A screenshot from the short video showing the crowded scene of tourists at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Guangzhou, Guangdong
A screenshot from the short video showing the crowded scene of tourists at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Guangzhou, Guangdong
By Paul WuFebruary 23rd, 2024

Yesterday, a short video was shared in a church WeChat group, showing the crowded scene of tourists at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Guangzhou, Guangdong. A Christian man remarked, "At peak times, people should wait two hours in a long queue, and visitors can only spend five minutes inside. Yet, despite this, many tourists still line up to catch a glimpse of the church's magnificence." 

A local pastor in Guangzhou also mentioned, "At the Shamian Christian Church in Guangzhou, it's almost impossible for me to move an inch." A similar situation is observed in churches at other tourist destinations across the country, which indicates the enthusiasm of tourists for visiting churches.

In response to this situation, various opinions have arisen in the news. Some view it positively, considering it a good thing and even seeing it as people's thirst for truth. Others, however, feel that tourists are just visiting tourist attractions and not genuinely embracing faith.

In reality, churches crowded with visitors are mostly found in places where tourism resources are relatively less abundant or where a blend of Chinese and Western cultures is prominent. These churches often serve as local landmarks and are must-visit places for tourists. For example, while Guangzhou is an economically developed city, it has fewer cultural and historical sites compared to ancient capitals like Xi'an and Beijing. The majestic and spectacular architecture of Shamian Church makes it a must-visit spot in Guangzhou.

On the other hand, places like Kulangsu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, represent a historic international settlement where Chinese and Western cultures coexist. Churches and other religious remnants play a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of these areas. Visitors come to experience the local culture, and skipping the churches would be a missed opportunity.

The North Cathedral (Xishiku), the South Cathedral (Xuanwumen) in Beijing, and the Catholic Church at Wuxing Street in Xi’an are also grand and magnificent. Though these two cities are famous ancient capitals with rich cultural and tourist resources, churches do not take center stage on the sightseeing agenda. While these churches do attract visitors during festivals, rarely do queues form for entry.

It's worth noting that tourists' interest in visiting churches is not necessarily a bad thing. It provides an opportunity for them to explore the charm of churches, which lays a foundation for potential evangelization.

A Christian man shared an experience from a past Spring Festival when he visited Shanghai. He experienced great emotion while viewing Shanghai's St. Ignatius Cathedral. Although he did not understand biblical faith at that time, he involuntarily kneeled and prayed. Subsequently, he developed an interest in Christianity and eventually became a believer.

(The article was originally published by the Gospel Times and the author is a Christian in Fujian.)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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