The Glocalisation of Christianity in China location:The University of Manchester, Centre for Chinese Studies date:14-16 May 2014
The policy of indigenization launched by pope Benedict XV in 1919 and implemented from 1922 in Republican China by archbishop Costantini attached priority to architecture, the most tangible expression of religion in the public space. This paper examines the paradigm shift of Catholic churches in China, from Western traditional models to Chinese-looking buildings, including modern structures in reinforced concrete. It shows the crucial role of father Adelbert Gresnigt, a Benedictine monk active in China from 1927 to 1931, in defining the “Sino-Christian style” that had to express both Catholic Chineseness and Chinese modernity, and be different from what the Protestant did. It also reveals the style debate between the pros and cons of Western styles as well as the rhetoric of (French) conservative missionaries who argued against Chinese style by referring to the preference of the Chinese Catholics for Gothic. It finally evokes the perception of Western and Chinese-style churches in present China.