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In the year 781 A.D. during the Tang dynasty, (618- 907 A.D.), in the S.W. region of the province of Zhejiang, near the city of nowadays Longquan, a commemorative stele was erected in honour of the one-hundred-and-fifty years presence of the Assyrian Christian community in China.
There are texts written in both the Chinese and Syriac language.
It attests the recognition and the esteem the Nestorian Christians enjoyed in China at that period.
The Chinese called Christianity “ the Luminous Religion” and Da Qin signifies the Roman Empire.
With the ending of the Tang dynasty Christianity in China is all but disappeared, but it revives somewhat in the 13th century after the Mongol invasions.
The Assyrian Christian community was very active and, already, from the 6th century were allowed to establish monasteries in many regions of the empire.
This stele is a strong demonstration regarding the life of the Christian of centuries past. We must not be surprised by the fact that they led a virtuous life full of good works and of positive contributions not limited within their own community, but embracing the society at large and the country in which they lived.
It is well known that China has always been a closed country to foreigners, therefore it is even more admirable the formal recognition of the worthy presence of the Christians in China by the emperor himself!
The Christian faith having been from the start founded upon God who became Man, in order to show us His love and His plan for the salvation of salvation of humanity, pays close attention to the practice of solidarity and love of neighbour.
The Assyrian Christian were not the exception; rather, they confirmed, as history and archaeology attest, that they were the good “yeast” that causes the dough to rise so as to become food for the hungry (Mk. 8, 15).
While Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople (428-431) he refused to accept the teaching of the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus, 431) according to which the Virgin Mary is given the title “Theotokos” (=Mother of God), i.e. that the Mother of Christ, bringing forth her Son into the world, she brought forth Christ, true God and true man
As a result he was ousted from his position and retired at a monastery near Antioch.
When he, finally, was officially condemned for monophysitism by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451) a good number of people in the Oriental Church did not accept his condemnation and carried on their missionary work, moving eastwards into Assyria, Mesopotamia, Persia, India and China. This Church became known as Nestorian.
Nowadays, the Nestorian Christians number about 300,000 and are found mainly in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, U.S.A. and Malabar in India.
Certain among them are, in recent times, united with Rome, professing the two natures in Christ, keeping, however, their ancient liturgy.
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