When the faithful heard that authorities were planning to demolish statues at Shengdiliang Shrine in Xiwanzi Diocese on May 13, they started to sleep overnight at the site to protect them. They managed to prevent local authorities from dismantling holy statues at a shrine in Hebei province, but they are worried about another round of persecution by communist officials after a church in the northern province had its cross removed.
The shrine has statues of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Lazarist Bishop Joseph-Martial Mouly (the first bishop of Xiwanzi) and Lazarist Father Mathew Shi (the first parish pastor of Xiwanzi Church).
Mary, a local Catholic, told ucanews.com that the statues were installed by a parish priest more than 10 years ago and people do a pilgrimage to the shrine every Lent for prayers. She believes that Catholics face more persecution in Hebei, which has the largest Catholic population in China with about 1.5 million faithful. “I believe they may demolish the shrine bit by bit,” she said.