Places of Religious Activities

Catholic Church in Lujia
Add: 8, Jiaotang Road, Lujia Town, Kunshan

In 1616, when China was ruled by Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty, Italian priest Giulio Alenio began to preach Catholicism in Changshu and attracted a following to the tune of hundreds. This is when Catholicism spread to Kunshan.

The Catholic church in Lujia was first built during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty (around 1862). Catholic records show that Tangjiao in Changshu and Lujia in Kunshan already became the center for local Catholics. Members of the Catholic church in Lujia were widely scattered in neighboring places, including Qingpu, Jiading, Taicang and Changshu. When China was ruled by the KMT party, a primary school was established in the church, where an observatory was also built. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the church was converted into a salt warehouse; in 1979, it was again converted into a theatre; in November 1981, a new Catholic church that we see today, funded by the government, began to be constructed to the east of the Xiajia River and was completed in 1982.

In 2002, in keeping with social progress, the Catholic church in Lujia was expanded to accommodate a growing number of followers. It was completed in December 2003 at a cost of RMB 5 million. Measuring 49 meters long by 16.8 meters wide, it occupies an area of 1,350 sqm, which can hold 1,500 people.

Catholic Church in Xiaohengtang
Add: 1558, Zhonghuayuan Road, KETD, Kunshan

In 1616, the 44th year of the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty, Italian priest Giulio Alenio began to spread Catholicism in Changshu, a neighboring county of Kunshan, and built a following to the tune of hundreds. He built two Catholic churches in two villages—Xigujing in Penglang and Xiaohengtang in Chengnan. This is how Catholicism began in Kunshan. In 1911, the church was renovated and expanded to accommodate a thousand people.

During China's national campaign to build communes, the church was requisitioned as a government office and later used to house primary and secondary school students.

In 1990 the church remained occupied by Chengnan Primary School. Later the government of Yushan Town vacated the church by funding the relocation of the school as well as the renovation of the church, which was completed on December 15, 1992.

The church we see today was constructed in May 2004 in a separate place. It was designed with a modern style in a round shape, with a length of 60 meters. At a maximum height of 75 meters, the three pointed structures represent the Holy Trinity.

Buddhism—Huazang Temple
Add: 28, Ma'anshan East Road, Kunshan

The Huazang Temple traces its origin to a branch of the Huiju Temple, which was built in 511, the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Tianjian of the Liang Dynasty (502-560). Huixiang, a Buddhist from Wuxing, is believed to be the founder of the temple. Between 841 and 846, Emperor Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty ordered a nationwide destruction of Buddhist temples and the Huiju Temple was no exception.

During the Xuanhe reign (1119-1125) of the Northern Song Dynasty, a Buddhist by the religious name of Youxin repositioned this branch temple as a Buddhist forum and renamed it "Huazang Forum Temple". In the Autumn of 1248 during the Chunyou reign of the Southern Song Dynasty, another Buddhist by the religious name of Lianggong reconstructed the Main Hall. In the 13th year of the Hongwu reign of the Ming Dynasty (1380), Buddhist Daya relocated the Huazang Forum Temple from the north of Ma'an Mountain to the top of Xishan Mountain. In the 22nd year of the Wanli reign of the Ming Dynasty (1594), Buddhist Jimo rebuilt the archway and Tianwang Hall.

In June 1992, the Kunshan Municipal Government approved the reconstruction of the Huazang Temple south of Ma'an Mountain and west of Cuiwei Pavilion, which covers an area of 3,300 sqm. In August 1997, the temple was relocated to where it is today, occupying a similar area. In October 2001, its construction on the new premises was completed. On June 5, 2004, a consecration ceremony was held and addressed by Master Qiufeng. The temple is accessible by the Bosheng Bridge, which is built over a small river in front of it. The temple features the architectural style of the Song Dynasty, with its majestic buildings roofed by golden yellow tiles. Typical Buddhist buildings include Tianwang Hall, Daxiong Hall, Guanyin Hall and Dizang Hall.

Buddhism—Yanfu Temple
Add: 6, Dongjiaomen, Qiandeng, Kunshan

In the 2nd year of the Tianjian reign of the Liang Dynasty (502-587), a native of Qiandeng by the name of Wang Shu donated his residence as a Buddhist temple, which was later named "Yanfu Temple". In the 2nd year of King Tianfu of Wuyue's reign (937), it was named by the King as "Boruo Temple". In the 1st year of the Dazhong Xiangfu reign of the Song Dynasty, Wang Jue, previously Secretary General of the county, decided to donate his residence to the temple, as he had no children to inherit it. At that time, the temple enjoyed a very large following south of the Yangtze River. However, it was destroyed at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Between 1368 and 1398 when the Ming Dynasty ruled, the temple was reconstructed. In the 2nd year of the Yongle reign, Minister of Revenue Xia Yuanji, when overseeing the dredging of the Wusong River, was accommodated in the temple. Between 1573 and 1619 when the Ming Dynasty was ruled by Emperor Wanli, Master Zhanyue raised funds to rebuild its lecturing hall and the archway. Following its destruction in the late Ming Dynasty, Master Daye Miyin again rebuilt the Main Hall and the Sutra Pavilion. Unfortunately, the majority of the temple was again destroyed in a war between the Qing Dynasty and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom during the Tongzhi reign. After the PRC was founded, its Buddhists returned to their secular life and the temple was converted into a hospital. Between 2003 and 2005, it was renovated and restored as a Buddhist temple.

Buddhism—Chongning Temple
Add: 5118, Hubin Road, Bacheng Town, Kunshan

It has been nearly 1,500 years since the temple was built under the instruction of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty in the 8th year of the Tianjian reign (509). In 1368 when the Yuan Dynasty ruled, a native by the name of Ding Daojian donated his residence to expand the temple. Between 1436 and 1449, the temple was expanded under Abbot Shi Cunding, an influential Buddhist in the region who was famous for his abstinence, dedication, kindness and self-discipline. Historical records show that there used be a stone statue of Maitreya, with a huge bell hung next to it, in the Tianwang Hall opposite the Main Hall. In the two corridors of the temple were also erected 500 Arhats, giving it an imposing appearance. The temple, originally a nunnery, was renamed by the imperial court upon the request of Shi Cunding in the 8th year of the Tianshun reign of the Ming Dynasty (1464) and had since attracted a growing following. In the 13th year of the Hongzhi reign of Ming (1500) and the 3rd year of the Yongzheng reign of Qing (1725), the temple was twice renovated to become a prominent Buddhist Mecca. Unfortunately, most of it was destroyed by Japanese soldiers during China's fight against a Japanese invasion.

Thanks to three years of fund-raising efforts by Master Qiufeng, Chairman of the Kunshan Municipal Buddhists Association, the temple, covering an area of nearly 10,000 sqm, was reconstructed in 2002 in a different location next to Yangcheng Lake. Designed with the architectural style of the Ming Dynasty, the new temple is surrounded by a more beautiful environment. The four characters of the temple's name were written by Master Yicheng, honorary Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China. On the central axis of the temple are Juewu (Enlightenment) Bridge, Tianwang Hall, Main Hall and Sutra Library; on the east side are the dormitory and a modern facility for self-directed learning; on the west side is the Yufo Pavilion decorated with a majestic caisson ceiling, in which is housed a Buddha statue made of jade imported from Myanmar. In the western part of the temple, Yangcheng Lake is overlooked by a three-story tastefully furnished and decorated guesthouse, which can accommodate 150 people.

Taoism—Longwang Temple
Add: 500 m east of the intersection of Changjiang North Road and Chunhui Road, Kunshan

Longwang Temple is located north of Chunhui Road, opposite the White Tower Park south of the road. Dating back over 400 years, it was first built in the 9th year of the Wanli reign of the Ming Dynasty (1581). Historical records show that it was originally located at the confluence of the Qingyang and Loujiang rivers and was built simultaneously with the White Tower. Therefore, local people often use "White Tower Longwang Temple" to refer to either of the two sites.

Due to one war after another, the temple was already dilapidated when the PRC was founded. In 2002, the municipal government approved its reconstruction in a different location, which was overseen by the Kunshan Taoists Association. In 2004, the project was completed. At its inauguration ceremony, Yan Jianhua, Chairman of the Kunshan Taoists Association, expressed gratitude to supporters on behalf of Taoists. Facing south, the new temple occupied an area of 6,700 sqm, with a built area of 3,000 sqm. The compound includes an archway, the main hall, east and west wing halls, a terrace, a stele gallery, a canteen, an office building, a dormitory, a warehouse and other auxiliary facilities. The temple was designed with the architectural style of the Ming and Qing dynasties in combination with Taoist elements, in which are enshrined the Dragon King, the God of Wealth, the God of Culture and Literature, the God of Medicine, Sixty Star Gods and Guanyin. The temple has built a large following in the region. On every lunar August 18, the temple will be crowded with Taoist followers. As the Taoist center in Kunshan, the temple also welcomes a large number of tourists every year.

Taoism—Shipai Dongyue Temple
Add: Junction of Kunshan, Changshu and Taicang, Bacheng Town, Kunshan

According to historical records, "there is a temple called the Dongyue Temple 50 km southeast of Yushan where Kunshan borders Changshu. Anybody who prays here will have his wish come true." Therefore, "the temple is often crowded with pilgrims, some of whom even live hundreds of kilometers away, and throughout the year, the temple is filled with the sounds of sutra chanting." Built in 1086 during the Yuanyu reign of the Song Dynasty, the temple is now more than 900 years old. Its 3-acre compound has a number of magnificent buildings, including the archway, Yuhuang Hall, Dongyue Hall, Shiwang Hall, Wenchang Hall and Doumu Hall, all of which are elaborately decorated with typical Taoist elements. Over the past centuries, the temple has been constantly renovated under the patronage of followers, including celebrities and wealthy merchants. For example, one prominent historical figure of Kunshan by the name of Gu Dingchen (1473-1540) once took the lead to finance the temple's renovation. This partly explains why it is so well preserved and enjoys a widespread influence.

Kunshan Christian Church
Add: 153, Hongfeng East Road, Yushan Town, Kunshan

In 1871, Huang Pinshan, Chief Priest of the First Baptist Church in Shanghai, assumed the role of priest for Kunshan. On October 16, 1879, a formal church was officially launched, with Xu Tuishan serving as its minister. The Southern Baptist Convention provided a grant for the construction of the 5-room church building that was located at Qianbang. It was built of black bricks and tiles, with a baptistery in it. The building could totally accommodate 300 people.

Dianshanhu Christian Church
Add: Yangxiang Village, Dianshanhu Town, Kunshan

A new Christian church will be built in Dianshanhu. It covers an area of 2 acres, with a built area of 11,000 sqm. Currently, all preparations are smoothly in progress.