The Chinese Orthodox Church – June 2014
English translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas
The Festal liturgy was served by the Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyayev, priest-in-charge of parish of SS Peter & Paul in Hong Kong. Taking part in the service were Russians who work or live in Beijing as well as citizens of other countries.
“Today the Orthodox Church commemorates the Chinese martyrs — the martyred priest Mitrophan, the first Orthodox Chinese priest, and also the 221 Orthodox faithful who suffered during the Boxer Rebellion in Beijing” , Fr. Dionisy Pozdnyayev told ITAR-TASS. This year, he continued, “their memory was celebrated in Beijing, the place of their martyrs’ end — as well as in Hong Kong. Divine liturgies were served in honor of this event – and a litany on the site where, until the Soviet epoch, stood the Church of All Martyrs, added the Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyayev noting that the entire Orthodox community commemorates the martyrs in private prayers in the city park, in Qingnianhu, which is located on the former Orthodox cemetery near the Andingmen Gates.
The Church of the Dormition was built on the territory of the former Orthodox spiritual mission in the Chinese capital, under the pressure of the so-called Boxer Rebellion, the massive Yihetuan movement which took effect at the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th centuries with anti-imperialist and anti-foreign positions. The Boxers destroyed railroads and anything and all mechanisms prepared the “overseas devils” — foreigners who, in their eyes, embodied all the evil on earth.
During the three years of the rebellion, many Christian churches were destroyed; under threat of physical violence, clerics, missionaries — R. Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox — fled the country. But the Chinese followers of Christianity had it even worse; the rebels destroyed them by the hundreds. Over 200 descendants of Orthodox Kazak-Albazinians who lived in Beijing from the 2nd half of the XVII century died a martyr’s death.
According to various data, about 70 million Christians now live in China. Four Orthodox churches now function — in Hong Kong, Beijing, Harbin and Shanghai. About 13 thousand Chinese profess Orthodoxy.