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The Sheshan Goddess Church is also known as Sheshan Catholicism Church. This is an important landmark not just because of its religious significance but also because of its astounding architecture. It towers high with its Romanesque style and elaborate details. Because of its dramatic façade, this has become a landmark in Shanghai and has also attracted many visitors who would like to witness its beauty.
To be able to get to the Sheshan Goddess Church you need to travel up the Xisheshan Mountain because it is located on top of it. Since this church is also considered as one of the attractions in Shanghai, the road leading to the church has been developed to make the travel much easier.
History of the Church
Today, the Sheshan Goddess Church is still considered as one of the largest churches within the Far East. Originally, the construction of this church started out in 1871, under the supervision of a French missionary.
Over the years, several renovations have been done. The initial plan for the church is not as big as it is now. However, in 1925, it went through another restoration. The Shanding Hall was added to the main structure as part of the church’s expansion. This hall was designed by Ye Zhaochang-a.
The Sheshan Goddess is also placed on top of the church. Though the icon is not officially part of the Roman Catholic religion, the Roman Church recognized the Sheshan Goddess Church in 1942. It was also during this year when the Sheshan Goddess Church was blessed by the pope with the name, Holy Palace. Since then, it became known across China and all over the world as the pilgrimage land for Catholics.
Architecture of the Church
The overall appeal of the Sheshan Goddess Church exudes traditional Roman style with a fusion of baroque architecture. The primary design of the church may be western but its construction still reflects conventional Chinese touches.
The statue on top of the church, as well as the materials which were used as alternative for the unavailable western materials, blended it with the Chinese culture. The brick walls provide a bright color for the façade of the church. It also shows the elaborate amount of work that was put into its construction. The windows are also interesting. Traditionally, Roman Catholic churches have stained glass windows which depict lives of the saints. For the Sheshan Goddess Church, the oversized windows are adorned by Chinese traditional patterns, using glass and tiles, which also enhance the overall look of the church.
Another aspect which was carefully considered during the construction of the Sheshan Goddess Church is its position on top of the mountain. It perfectly blends with the natural landscape and seems like it was meant to be built there.
To strengthen the impact of the Catholic influence, the floor lay-out of the Sheshan Goddess Church forms the Latin cross.
Church-goers are welcomed by the altar which is made of solid marble. This is the section where priests conduct masses and religious celebration. The interior of the Sheshan Goddess Church is also graced by the natural light which streams through the oversized windows with different colors of glass.
Since the Sheshan Goddess Church is a place of worship, this is frequented by visitors not just for sight-seeing but also for spiritual fulfillment. From the foot of the mountain up to the peak, where the Sheshan Goddess Church is, there are a total of 14 pavilions or Kulu. These are also more commonly referred to as Stations of the Cross by Catholics. Each one shows the suffering of Jesus. Pilgrims go through each pavilion, until they reach the top of the mountain.