HOME >> Sight Seeing

Chapel of the Canossian Daughters of Charity

Source: hubei.gov.cn 09/02/2016 10:09:59

Located at 2 Huayuanshan and built in 1888, the chapel of the Canossian Daughters of Charity has a history of over 120 years. This historic structure features classic Western style architecture. It is now home to the Xu Shiming Art Gallery.

The Canossian Daughters of Charity was founded in Italy in 1806; its headquarters was established in Rome. Some of its nuns were invited to Wuhan in 1868 by Eustachio Vito Modesto Zanoli O.F.M., the bishop of the Hubei Apostolic Vicariate, who was succeeded, in 1883, by Vincenzo Epiphane Carlassare O.F.M., a member of the Italian Ordo Fratrum Minorum. Proficient in design, he designed and organized construction for the chapel in 1888. Originally, there were two separate structures, the chapel and the residential building for the nuns; now only the chapel remains.

In its early years, the chapel was without nuns from China. When Vincenzo Epiphane Carlassare O.F.M. served as bishop, he admitted some Chinese virgins and convened training classes for them; this took over ten years. In 1911, the trained nuns joined the first organization for Chinese nuns in Hubei Catholic history.

When the Northern Expeditionary Army broke into Wuhan in 1926, all the nuns relocated to Hankou. In 1951, the chapel was taken over by the municipal government. It was left idle until 2005, when it was confirmed as a significant historical site.

Turned into art gallery

The chapel was renovated in 2008 and transformed into the Xu Shiming Art Gallery, which opened to the public on May 22, 2009.

Xu is a national first-class artist and a second generation disciple of Qi Baishi, a world-renowned Chinese artist. As a personal studio, the gallery displays many of Xu's paintings; the plum blossoms he depicts in his works bear the merits of ancient and modern Chinese drawings and incorporate artistic styles from both Southern and Northern China; he also integrates techniques from impressionism and realism.

Architectural style

The one-story chapel, which was constructed using wood and brick, covers an area of about 150 square meters. Built on the top of a hill, it offers a broad view. It was initially constructed for the nuns to pray together; for this reason, outside visitors were forbidden to enter.

The porch protrudes with a pediment at its head, and it is distinguished by its bilateral symmetry. The door, defined by an arch with a spire on top, stands beneath a decorative, triangular wall. All of the windows are long and arched. The east-facing chapel has a rectangular hall which has ceilings that are over 4 meters high. The altar used to be located on the western end, and there was once a statue of the resurrected Jesus in the middle and statues of St. Joseph and St. Mary on the sides.