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Xizhimen Church - Elegantly Simple

CRI Online)  14:52, October 29, 2012

A three part gold leaf painting blends old styles with modern ideas at Xizhimen Church. ( Wang)

Beijing has a number of historic churches, each with their own character. Xizhimen may not be the most historic of the bunch, but it is definitely one of the loveliest. One single hall stretches toward the pulpit, while wood beams arch above. The church and its decor are blessed with a visual unity and simplicity which soothes the soul, never leaning toward the austere.

The walls are lined by an impressive series of narrow stained glass windows imported from Italy. The windows run through various biblical episodes such as Adam and Eve being cast from the Garden of Eden, or Jesus being prosecuted. A series of paintings below portray missionaries preaching in China.

Related: Niujie Mosque: Praying on Ox Street

Behind the altar is an exquisite gold leaf triptych, featuring a host of haloed angels lined up to pay their respects to Jesus and Mary. Closer examination reveals modern influences such as the unconventional inclusion of international angels. A number of them play traditional Chinese instruments or wear Asian garb.

Centered in the aisle near the front door is reportedly the only baptism pool in China. Candidates lie down, sit or stand on the cross of gold tiles within it while water pours from a vase into the octagonal reservoir.

Related: Chabad House: Judaism Makes Its Mark in Beijing

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