Das wichtigste Gebet ist das Gebet um die Beharrlichkeit bis zum Ende. Siehe hier

Mittwoch, 24. Januar 2024

A fresh start: the Dominicans return to Taiwan's indigenous tribes


The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Wanchin (Source: Abzeronow)

(Read Part I here)

The following centuries saw few missionary contacts with the island. A few decades after the Dutch had taken control over the Spanish missions, they were themselves ousted by the Chinese. The Jesuit Fr. Mailla was based on Taiwan from 1709 to 1718 as part of a larger effort to draw maps of all parts of the Chinese Empire, but it does not appear that he engaged in missionary activity vis-à-vis the natives. The Chinese increasingly settled the western plains, which led to the assimilation of the western tribes, who became known under the names Pepo (Chinese for “flat plains”) or Pepohoan (“savages of the plains”); the modern term Pingpu also means “plains”. Initially, the Chinese favored the natives through legislation as they feared an aboriginal uprising, but as the Chinese population increased, the Pingpu’s economic situation deteriorated. They could not compete with the Chinese, who used the island’s river system to irrigate their fields, doubling their crops compared to those of the Pingpu. At the same time, a deadly conflict started between the Chinese and the headhunting tribes of the mountain interior that lasted well into the 19th century.

On the global stage, the Treaty of Whampoa of 1844 resulted in the theoretical toleration of Christianity in the Chinese Empire. Fourteen years later, the Treaty of Tianjin led to the opening of Chinese ports to foreign trade. As a result, the Congregation de Propaganda Fide asked the Dominicans to return to Taiwan. The Taiwanese mission was attached to the Apostolic Vicariate of Fujian in southern China, which was staffed by missionaries of the Province of the Holy Rosary based in Manila. The first two missionaries, again Spanish Dominicans, to set foot on Taiwan again were Fr. Fernando Sáinz, a fiery and optimistic Aragonian recently ordained, and Fr. Ángel Bofurull, a veteran of the Fujian mission. They landed in the southern port of Takau (modern-day Kaohsiung). Due to the difficulties of the trip, Fr. Bofurull decided to return to the mainland for good, while Fr. Sáinz decided to man the mission alone with the help of a group of Chinese catechists. The mission was dedicated to both the Chinese and the native populations, but it soon became evident that the islander population was more susceptible to missionary efforts. The Chinese of Taiwan, especially the subgroup of the Hakka, were very attached to the worship of local deities, an obstacle to missionary work which continued well into the 20th century.

Fr. Sáinz decided to start the new mission with two foundations. One was located in Qianjin (also known as Chenkin) near Takau, the other in the interior some 40 miles from Takau in the Makatao village of Wanchin (also called Wanjin, Bankim or Bankimcheng in older sources). The villagers embraced the foreign missionary and on Christmas of 1862, the first two catechumens received baptism in the newly built church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The year 1862 also saw the arrival of two further missionaries, Fr. Ándres Chinchón (later Vicar Apostolic of Xiamen) and Fr. Miguel Limárquez. Chinchón established himself in Qianjin, while Fr. Limárquez joined Sáinz in Wanchin. The mission in Wanchin would thrive, but not without sufferings. The Chinese Hakkas of the place harassed the native converts, a conflict that even led to Fr. Sáinz abduction in 1867. He was released after a ransom payment had been made. Furthermore, an earthquake destroyed the church in 1865. In 1866, natives set fire to the newly built church, and more earthquakes followed. This did not dissuade the Aragonian missionary, who forged plans to build a more stately and solid church which could withstand earthquakes and attacks. Around 1865, he also endeavored to make contact with the northern natives, who, it was reported, desired to have missionaries of their own. There was some hope to discover hidden Christians, just as it had happened in Nagasaki in the same year. A catechist was sent to the north in 1866 and the first priests arrived in Jilong, the site of the first Dominican mission in the 17th century, in 1868. Although the Dominicans noted some customs that they interpreted as possibly being of Catholic origin, they were not sure about their findings. Meanwhile, Sáinz had to return to the Philippines in 1869 due to his failing health, having served the Taiwanese mission in his pioneer role for a decade. The Jilong mission was subsequently given up for the time being.

"A Christian Pepohoan"

The 1870s started with the dedication of the new church of Wanchin on 20 February 1870. The massive building was designed in the Filipino colonial style and still stands to this day, having been elevated to the rank of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984. The well-established missions in the south, especially the economically successful station at Qianjin, served as bases for missionary expeditions to the mountain tribes in the center of the island. The Spanish missionaries referred to these tribes generically as igorrotes, as they shared some characteristics with the eponymous mountain people of Luzon in the Philippines, who were also quite hostile to strangers. A mission was set up in Lo-chhu-chug in 1873 and another in Tau-lak (modern-day Douliu) in 1875. Missionary work was consolidated over the next two decades. In 1886, Fr. Francisco Herce reported that the mission in Qianjin had some 250 faithful from the surrounding six villages, while the church could fit 400. Around the same time, Wanjin had 535 faithful and the more recent mission Lo-chhu-chug, 147. Although the sources do not tell us of the number of indigenous persons of each mission, they were likely to form a majority, especially in Wanjin and Lo-chhu-chug, which were indigenous villages.

A group of "Igorrotes"

The Japanese occupation of Taiwan that followed the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895 had a negative impact on the missions in the island’s center. Chinese inhabitants put up the most resistance against the invaders and at same time spread the rumor that the missionaries and their faithful were collaborators. This led to the total destruction of the mission church of Tau-lak on 4 September 1895 at the hands of the rebels, with the Christians fleeing to Lo-chhu-chug. The Japanese re-established order, but the hatred of the rebels only grew when Fr. Giner reported the suspects who had looted the church to the Japanese authorities, leading to more killings by the Chinese. During a partially successful uprising in 1896, the mission was again attacked by rebel forces. Despite these setbacks and a number of earthquakes, the missions on Taiwan developed favorably in the following years. Taiwan was finally separated from the Apostolic Vicariate of Fujian and erected as an Apostolic Prefecture in 1913, not least due to Japanese pressure, as the new rulers looked with suspicion upon the mission that was run from the Chinese mainland. Under the second Prefect Apostolic, Fr. Tomás de la Hoz, who had been Prefect Apostolic in Shikoku in Japan for ten years, there was a perceived shift of attention to the Japanese Catholics, which caused a somewhat strained relation with the Chinese Catholics. In these years, the Japanization of the education system led to Japanese being introduced as a lingua franca both among the Chinese and the indigenous peoples. This Japanization later also extended to the Church, with Archbishop Doi of Tokyo asking de la Hoz in 1940 to step down. De la Hoz agreed, and the Holy See appointed Fr. Joseph Asajiro Satowaki (later Archbishop of Nagasaki and cardinal) as Apostolic Administrator. During the Japanese years, the mission saw a steady growth and World War II only affected it mildly, but missionary contact with many of the tribes of the center and east of the island was yet to be established. Satowaki returned to Japan in 1946, being followed for a short period by Fr. Raymund Tu Minzheng, until the leadership of the prefecture was back in Dominican hands in 1948, but only for a short period. What followed next would be the most impactful development in Taiwanese missionary history since the beginning of the mission in the 17th century.


José Eugenio Borao Mateo, “Dominicos españoles en Taiwan (1859-1960): Primer siglo de historia de la Iglesia Católica en la isla”

José Eugenio Borao Mateo, “Fernando Sáinz y el inicio del catolicismo en Taiwán (1859-1869)”

Yao-Sung Hsiao, “Restauración de las misiones católicas en Taiwán”

The Takao Club, “Road to Bankimcheng”: https://www.takaoclub.com/bankim/road_to_bankimcheng.htm

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen