St. Joseph’s Church

St. Joseph’s Church, or East Church 东堂, is located near the popular tourist street Wangfujing. Originally built in 1655, the church is the second oldest in Beijing. The church survived an earthquake in 1720 and a fire in 1812. During the Qing dynasty, the imperial court demolished the church in an attempt to rid the city of western ideals. After the Second Opium War, Western missionaries rebuilt the church, which stood until the Boxers destroyed it during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The current structure was built in 1904. After Mao won the civil war, the communists seized St. Joseph’s and turned it into a warehouse. Later, during the Cultural Revolution, the church was closed entirely. In the 70s, Deng Xiaoping funded the restoration of the church. Today, St. Joseph’s is active and open to the public. When I first saw the church, I thought it would make a nice picture. Little did I know the years of history hiding behind the pretty facade. -雯祎