City God: Churches in Shanghai

City God: Churches in Shanghai
By Susie Gordon ,

China isn’t a country you’d naturally associate with Christianity, but there is actually a long history of missionary work and church building. Thanks to heavy Western influence, Shanghai has many beautiful churches, most of which are still in use for local Christians and foreign worshippers in the city. So whether you want to praise God at Sunday Mass, or just admire some gorgeous architecture, there’s something for you in Shanghai. If you’re looking for Christmas and Christmas Eve masses in Shanghai, many of these churches are holding services – for a full list of Christmas Mass events click here.

Here are some of the city’s most active and interesting churches:

St. Peter’s Church 圣彼得教堂View In Map
This striking white building in the heart of the French Concession was built in the 1930s as a place for Catholic expatriates to worship. It still attracts a healthy crowd of foreigners, and offers masses in English, German, Korean, and French.

Add: 3F, 270 Chongqing Nanlu, near Hefei Lu, Luwan District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6467 8282
Services in English: Saturdays 17:00, Sundays 12:00. Rosary on Sundays 11:30

St. Ignatius Cathedral 徐家汇天主教堂View In Map
Certainly one of Shanghai’s most iconic landmarks, the double-spired Catholic cathedral in Xujiahui has a long and rocky history. It was built by French Jesuits between 1905 and 1910 from a Gothic-style design by English architect William Doyle. At the start of the Cultural Revolution it was ransacked by the Red Guards and turned into a state grain factory. It was finally restored to religious order in 1978.

Add: 158 Puxi Lu, near Caoxi Beilu, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6469 0930
Services in English: Sundays 06:00, 07:00, 10:00, 18:00; Weekdays 07:00; Saturday vigil 18:00; Friday observance 18:00

Hengshan Community Church 上海国际礼拜堂View In Map
This Ecumenical church is run by the Shanghai Community Fellowship, and was established in 1920 by American immigrants, originally on Donghu Lu. It moved to its current location in 1923 and has been an active place of worship ever since, conducting services in English and Chinese.

Add: 53 Hengshan Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6437 6576
Services in English: Sundays 14:00 and 16:00

More on Hengshan’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic ChurchView In Map
The buzzing expat hub of Jinqiao Green City is home to the Sacred Heart Catholic church. It’s something of a pillar of the community, and hosts many events, vibrant, get-togethers, charity events, and concerts.

Add: 151 Hongfeng Lu, Pudong District, Shanghai
Services in English: Sunday Mass 10:30 and 12:30

More on Sacred Heart’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day services

St. Francis Xavier ChurchView In Map

This white Bund-side Catholic basilica was built in the Qing Dynasty in 1847, and became the seat of the Bishop of Shanghai in 1946. The building is a copy of the Chiesa del Gesu in Rome. Look out for the traditional Chinese designs high up on the walls inside.

Add: 185 Dongjiadu Lu, near Zhongshan Nanlu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 3671 7214
Services in English: Weekdays 12:30, Saturdays at 17:00, Sundays 10:30 and 12:30. For English confession call Fr. Lu on 1358-563-5651, or turn up 30 min. before a service

More on St. Francis’ Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services 

Grace Church 怀恩堂View In Map

Catholic missionary Frank Rawlinson built this simple red brick church in 1910. He was shot by the Japanese in 1937 but his legacy lives on in the vibrant community church he founded.

Add: 375 Shaanxi Beilu, near Beijing Xilu, Jing’An District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6253 9394
Services in English: call for details

Moore Memorial Church 沐恩堂View In Map

Another instantly-recognisable building in Shanghai, this church sits between skyscrapers looking over People’s Park. It was founded by American missionaries in 1887 and closed for a decade during the Cultural Revolution. The church we see today was designed in 1931 by Laszlo Hudec, Shanghai’s Art Deco master.

Add: 316 Xizang Zhonglu, near Jiujiang Lu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6322 5069
Opening hours:
Services in English: Sun 07:30, 09:00, 14:00 and 19:00

Sheshan Basilica 佘山进教之佑圣母大殿View In Map
This one is a little way out of town, but it’s definitely worth a look if you are planning a trip out to Songjiang District. Sheshan Tang was built by the Jesuits in 1866 and is the largest Christian ecclesiastical building in Asia. The stunning red brick building on She Mountain has a bell tower 125 feet tall, and is a popular place of worship for local and foreign Catholics. Get to the top of Sheshan either on foot, or by cable car.

Add: Huanshan Lu, Sheshan, Songjiang District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 5765 1521
Services in English: Mass Monday to Saturday 07:00 in winter, 06:30 in summer), and 08:00 on Sunday
Price: 15 RMB to get onto She Mountain

Something to remember: take your passport if you want to attend Mass or other services, as many churches don’t allow Chinese nationals to attend English services for bureaucratic reasons. Also, make sure you dress conservatively and respectfully i.e. no bare arms or legs.

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