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The Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Yanshui Catholic Church)


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The Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Yanshui Catholic Church)

A short walk through the scenic lanes that run between the Octagon Building and Hubi Temple leads visitors to Ximen Road and what appears at first glance to be another temple. The Chinese tile roof, traditional temple gate, and pair of stone lions guarding the entrance would certainly seem to lend credence to the idea—until you look more closely and realize that there is a Christian cross above the gate.

This is the Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Poor Clares Monastery, founded in 1954 by Franciscan Father Eusebius Mueller. Father Mueller also oversaw the 1986 construction of the Main Hall, which is such an extraordinary fusion of East and West that it has attracted international attention. Visitors are welcome to step inside the church when services are not being held to have a look around. And whether or not you are religious, it is an amazing sight to see!

The stained glass decoration so common in European cathedrals is replaced here by a riot of paintings depicting scenes from the Bible that cover the entire interior of the church, almost as if it were a Taoist temple. The red-painted columns running down the center and a large temple incense burner that stands in front of the altar (it replaces the candles used in most Catholic churches) further reinforce this feeling.

But it is the paintings themselves that most arrest the attention. Directly behind the altar is a large mural depicting the Last Supper. But in this Last Supper, Jesus and all of the disciples are Chinese, the table is covered with steamed buns (baozi) and other local foods, and everyone is using chopsticks (Judas, however, is still missing his halo).

It doesn’t stop with the last supper. God in the Creation from Genesis, on the wall opposite the altar, looks like a benevolent Taoist sage, complete with long white beard, rounded head and belly, and broad-sleeved Chinese robe. The 14 Stations of the Cross, the scenes of the Crucifixion, landscapes, angels—everything and everyone in every square inch of the church is Chinese.

All of this can seem momentarily jarring and be a bit of an eye-opener to Westerners accustomed to depictions of a European Jesus. Father Mueller for his part emphasized the importance of anchoring his western religion within local culture and life, believing that it made the church more relatable and acceptable to the people of Yanshui.

One thing is for certain—this is a place that will give visitors some real food for thought!


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  No. 19, Ximen Rd., Yanshui Dist., Tainan City 73747, Taiwan (R.O.C.)


   +886 6 6521174