St Ignatius (Xujiahui) Cathedral

Once known as the grandest cathedral in the Far East, that the gothic edifice of St Ignatius survives at all is worthy of note: during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards tore down much of the interior, and it was not until 2009 that the stained glass windows were restored to their former glory.

Built (like the Sheshan Basilica and Sheshan Astronomical Observatory) by French Jesuits at the turn of the twentieth century, the building enjoyed brief fame in the early scenes of Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, and now once again functions as an active place of Catholic worship, with a capacity of some 3,000. Services are held on weekdays at 07:00, Friday and Saturday evenings at 18:00, and on Sundays at 06:00, 07:30, 10:00 and again at 18:00.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Cathedral, as well as the more general history of the Jesuits in Shanghai should check out locally-based writer Adam Minter’s blog. And while you’re at the Cathedral, try to find time to check out nearby Guangqi Park.

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