Nantang (South Church)

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The spread of Catholicism to Beijing dates back to the end of the Ming Dynasty with the arrival of the Italian Jesuit Father, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), on January 25, 1601. Ricci took a house near Xuanwumen, which was taken over by the German Jesuit Father, Schall von Bell who came to Beijing in 1630 and conducted his religious activities there. He later became the director of the Board of Astronomy under the Qing, and in 1650, with the help of the board, he was granted permission to build a Catholic church on the site of his house. That was probably the earliest church in Beijing. The church was twice destroyed, in 1775 and 1900. This is the South Church which was rebuilt in 1904.