Jiangmen diocese, one of five dioceses in Guangdong province, covers 24 counties in the districts and cities of Foshan, Jiangmen, Yangjiang, Yunfu, Zhaoqing and Zhongshan.
The church in Guangdong was separated from Macao diocese becoming Guangdong Apostolic Prefecture in 1858 under the administration of Paris Foreign Missions. Jiangmen Apostolic Prefecture was established in 1924 under the administration of Maryknoll Missioners. It became Jiangmen Apostolic Vicariate in 1927 and diocese was established in 1946.
Shangchuan Island is an important landmark of Chinese Catholic Church, as well as in the history of Chinese-Western cultural relations. This small island in China's territory is a highly revered place because St. Francis Xavier died there in 1552 when waiting for someone to bring him to the mainland. He longed for spreading the Gospel in mainland China, a country whose people he loved dearly and whose culture he esteemed highly.
A memorial of St Francis Xavier was built by Bishop Philippe Guillemin, Bishop of Guangdong on Shangchuan Island in 1869. The present white chapel of the tomb was rebuilt in 1986. It was of gothic style, 20 meters long, 10 meters wide, with a bell tower 23-24 meters high.
In 2006, with the support of friends of the Society of Jesus, Hong Kong and alumni of Jesuit-run Wah Yan College in Hong Kong, the chapel monument on Shangchuan was refurbished to celebrate the 5th centenary of the birth of St. Francis Xaxier.
Zhaoqing is also a place of special importance. In 1582, 2 Jesuits, Ruggieri and Francis Passius, first came to Zhaoqing. In the following year, 1593, Matteo Ricci and Ruggieri left Macau for mainland China. The first stop that they made was Zhaoqing. Matteo Ricci stayed in Zhaoqing for 6 years and Zhaoqing laid the foundation for his evangelization work in other parts of China later in his life.
Zhongshan was the birthplace of Sun Yat-sen, (alias Sun Zhongshan or Sun Wen), a a revolutionary who was born 142 years ago to a peasant family in Cuiheng villiage, Xiangshan county. When Sun died in 1925, after playing a leading role in the revolution that ended China's imperial past, the name of Xiangshan was changed to Zhongshan in his honor.
Zhongshan is located 2,100 kilometers south of Beijing.
Though Mandarin is the official language in China, the priests in the diocese have to speak Cantonese, Hakka, and other dialects as well in their pastoral work.
Among the major expressways are the Foshan-Kaiping Expressway, the Xinhui-Taishan Expressway, the Jiangmen-Heshan Expressway and the coastal Expressway in the west of Guangdong province. Direct buses from Jiangmen (Wuyi) to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hongkong and Macau and other major cities are available. With regard to water travel, scores of fliers are shuttling from Jiangmen to Hongkong or Macau every day.
The climate is subtropical with monsoon influences. The annual average temperature is 22.5 degrees Celsius.
Similar to other cities in the western Pearl River Delta, the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in Jiangmen's economy. The chief industries include manufacturing of motorcycles, household appliances, electronics, paper, food processing, synthetic fibers and garments, as well as textiles and stainless steel products. Jiangmen Port is the second largest river port in Guangdong province.
Jiangmen, located in the Pear River Delta of Guangdong Province, has a total area of 9,541 square kilometers and a population of 3.96 million. It adjoins Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Foshan, Yunfou and Yanjiang City. It takes only one half hour from Jiangmen to Guangzhou or Macau, and two hours to Hongkong.
At present in Jiangmen there are 7 mass cultural galleries, 60 theaters and cinemas, 6 public libraries, 9 museums, 1 prefectural-level radio and TV broadcasting station and 5 county-level ones. The coverage rate of radio and TV broadcasting has reached 100 percent. Jiangmen is the homeland of 3.68 million overseas Chinese, who live in 107 countries and regions throughout the world.