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Sanctioned Heterodoxy: Local Cults in Two Chinese Catholic Villages, 1900—Present

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While ecclesiastic and state authorities in Europe largely abolished medieval cults of saints because of their “heterodoxy,” late-imperial and modern Chinese Catholic communities in Shanxi still promulgate local cults dedicated to women and men who are believed to have performed posthumous miracles or who represent heroic virtue. Although constrained beneath the scrutiny of imperial, ecclesial, and modern political ideas of “orthodoxy” and “heterodoxy,” two Shanxi Catholic villages, Dongergou and Liangquandao (Liuhecun), have managed to preserve and promote Sister Maria Assunta Pallotta and Father Wang Shiwei as contemporary versions of traditional local cults. One of the manifest characteristics of these two Chinese Catholic local cults is how they have been transformed by traditional Daoist cults and have successfully survived in a liminal space between “orthodox” and “heterodox.” Relying on archival materials from the former Taiyuan Catholic Diocese Archive, records held in Roman archives, and oral testimonies, intricate patterns of accommodation and resistance to political and church authorities can be discerned as means for these remote Catholic villages to construct identity and cultivate social cohesion.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History


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