The diocesan territory stretches across more than 2,000 kilometers in Gansu and covers 20 counties, including four ancient cities on the "Silk Road" -- Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Wuwei and Zhangye, as well as Dingxi and Lanzhou cities.
Lanzhou is 1,170 kilometers southwest of Beijing, and 1,710 kilometers northwest of Guangzhou. It is situated on the upper course of the Yellow River, where the river emerges from the mountains. The Yellow River flows through from west to east. Lanzhou has been a center since early times, being at the southern end of the route leading via the Hexi Corridor across Central Asia.
In Lanzhou, a prefecture-level city and capital of Gansu province in northwestern China, the population is 3,310,100 in 2008. (The population of the whole country is 1,3 billion). Lanzhou is one of 12 provinces, autonomous regions, and towns included in China's Western Region Development Strategy.
Lanzhou diocese is located along the ancient Silk Road in China's northwestern highlands and is considered to be China’s northwest geographical center. The well-known Dunhuang Caves, where ancient Buddhist frescos and relics considered part of the world's cultural heritage are found, are located 900 kilometers northwest of the diocese.
Mandarin is in use.
What is now Lanzhou Diocese was erected in 1922 as Longxi apostolic vicariate and entrusted to the Society of the Divine Word. The vicariate was renamed Lanzhou two years later. In 1946, it became an archdiocese when the Vatican set up the Chinese hierarchy.
In 1952, foreign clergy in Gansu, as in other places in China, were expelled.
Religious activities revived in the early 1980s, and Bishop Yang was ordained in 1987 in the "underground" Church community. Later, he surfaced and worked openly until he died in 1998. Bishop Han was ordained his successor in 2003.
The underground community rejects affiliation with the government-approved administrative structures for the "open" Church.
Lanzhou is one of three dioceses in Gansu province in which the underground Church, not recognized by the government, is active. The other two dioceses are Pingliang and Tianshui.
Lanzhou is a regional rail, highway, and air hub in NW China and the junction point to Xinjiang.
Gansu has a temperate monsoonal climate with the marked transitional characteristics of a continental climate. It has a mean annual temperature of 9 degrees Celsius - the hottest month, July, averaging 20 - 24 degrees Celsius and the coldest month, January, -12 - 2 degrees Celsius - and a mean annual precipitation of 50 - 500 mm, decreasing from east to west.
Main industries include textile mills, rubber, fertilizer plants, oil refinery, petrochemical, machinery, and metallurgical industry. Gansu province has one of the largest oil refineries in the country and Lanzhou itself is the center of the province's petrochemical industry. There is a thermal generating plant supplied with coal from fields in Qinghai. In addition, there is a hydroelectric station at Zhulama Gorge in Gansu, and a large multipurpose dam has been built in the Liujia Gorge on the Yellow River above Lanzhou. The diocesan territory is the collecting center and market for agricultural produce and livestock from a wide area. Many of Bishop Han’s parishioners are poultry farmers.
Gansu Province is also called Long or Gan for short. It is the craddle of Chinese culture. This includes in these days: Hua'er (flower), Long Opera, Qinqiang, Shadow Play, Lanzhou Drum, etc.
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
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