[map of China] Republic constituting the largest political division of eastern Asia; area, 4,279,170 square miles. The three religions recognized by the Chinese as indigenous and adopted by them are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Mohammedans number about 20,000,000, Catholicism has been established for three centuries, and Protestantism since 1807. The introduction of Christianity into China has been ascribed to Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew. The disciples of Nestorius, spreading their heresy through Asia after the condemnation of their leader, 431, are supposed to have reached China in the 7th century, a theory based on the Singanfu inscription found c.1623. In the 13th century Dominican and Franciscan friars visited the Mongol domain, and an archbishopric was established at Cambaluc with bishops at Zaitun and Peking, but all Christian missions disappeared upon the fall of tne Mongols and the accession of the Ming dynasty, 1368. The first modern missionary was the Dominican friar Gaspar da Cruz (1555), and missions were solidly establIshed by the Jesuits under Father Matteo Ricci, the pioneer missionary of Peking. The Church suffered under the conquest of China by the Manchus, 1644, but Christian missions were strengthened by French Jesuits and priests from the Missions Etrangeres, and many won favor at court as astronomers and interpreters. In 1724 an edict of Yung Chang exiled to Canton all missionaries except those emvloyed at court, and, 1736, Kien Lung forbade preaching of Christian doctrine under penalty of death. This led to cruel persecution at Fukien, 1746, during which five Spanish Dominicans, Serrano, Alcobar, Royo, Diaz, and Sanz, the vicar Apostolic, were martyred. In 1811 a search warrant was sent out for foreign preachers, and persecution continued after France and England had united in military action against China. On 21 June 1870, 21 persons were massacred at the French consulate in Tientsin, but France was impeded by the Franco-Prussian war from action in China, outrages increased, and the Boxer Insurrection (1900) lengthened the list of martyrs. An agreement was effected by the French minister Gerard, 1895, that all passages in official codes disadvantageous to Christians be struck out. The World War drained the missionary strength which was largely French and gave an impetus to the missionary activity of other countries, especially the United States and Ireland. The empire was divided, 1879, into five ecclesiastical regions comprising 38 vicariates Apostolic, 4 prefectures Apostolic, 1 mission, 1 diocese (Macao), with 1280 foreign and 577 native priests for 1,014,266 Christians. In 1924 ecclesiastical administration was reorganized. In 1926 two native bishops were consecrated, Reverend Joseph Bu, vicar Apostolic of Taichow, and Reverend Simon Tsu, vicar Apostolic of Baimen.

Archdioceses, past and present, include Dioceses, past and present, include: Prefectures Apostolic include: Other ecclesiastical divisions include: See also:
New Catholic Dictionary

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