China’s Equivalent of St Patirck’s Day

 

Today, 19 March, is the equivalent of St Patrick’s Day for Chinese Catholics.

Did you ever wonder why at least half of the Chinese Catholic men you meet are called Joseph?

St Joseph was proclaimed the patron of China in 1925 and today over half of the churches in China are dedicated to St Joseph. The photos here are of St Joseph’s in Beijing and St Joseph’s cathedral in Tianjin.

The reason Joseph was picked, or so it is said, was because he exemplified key Chinese ideals: humility, simplicity, authenticity, diligence and faithfulness.

I only found out this recently myself, I had often wondered why St Joseph’s name was added to that of Mary in the prayers of the Mass in our house. Also today our Chinese contingent are off to celebrate in Dublin with the Chinese Catholic Community at Westland Row Church.

What might Patrick and Joseph have in common? (Besides many Irishmen being called Patrick and churches – such as the in Maynooth College — called after the saint.)

Well, both were foreigners but people were prepared to learn from them despite that.  Patrick built on the ancient sense of sacred in the Irish to show them a more personal and compassion side of God and Joseph illustrated the Chinese ideals of authenticity and simplicity in a new way to give the people direction and hope in coping with hardship and persecution.

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