Email: The Iron Pillar Cross of the Three Kingdoms

Nestorian Stele 781 CE

Dear Gillian

I was researching the earliest records of Christianity in China, within Chinese language sources. Of course, there is talk of St Thomas going to India (and possibly China), and St Bartholomew who apparently only visited China. Whereas St Paul only concentrated on the West, these two Apostles went East. There is also the usual mention of the 781 CE Stele dug-up in Xian in 1625 CE! This talks of a Nestorian Mission to China which arrived in 635 CE. The so-called ‘Jesus Sutras’ convey Christian theology but within familiar Chinese philosophical concepts. Much later, Catholic Missionaries would clash with the pockets of Nestorians that were left – concerning their practice of ‘integrating’ with local cultures, The Catholics demanded that Christian theology be accepted as it is and not transliterated into a devilish ideology. However, this Nestorian Mission is not the earliest tale of Christians in China. There is a legend that says that during the Ming Dynasty a Great Iron Cross was discovered buried in (Luling) Jiangxi, made during the reign of Chiwu (238 CE – 250 CE) during the Three Kingdoms Periods. The inscription apparently reads:  

「四海慶安瀾,鐵柱寶光留十字;萬民懷大澤,金爐香篆藹千秋」 

(My Translation)T 

he Four Oceans Celebrate and the Earth is at Peace. 

The Cross of the Iron Pilar Emits the Treasure of Eternal Light.  

Untold Masses Embrace (and are Embraced’) by ‘Da Ze’ (大澤) – ‘Jesus’.

Golden Furnace Fragrant Seal Friendship Thousand Autumns. 

This story seems to be officially recorded, but I have not been able to find any pictures of the cross within Chinese language sources. The Nestorian arrival of 635 CE is clearly supported by a 12 foot stele which everyone can still see today! By coincidence, I found the ‘BitterWinter’ site you mentioned. I am checking whether ‘Prof. Daniel Williams ever taught in China – as his work is anti-China propaganda and I doubt he would be allowed in if that’s his attitude. Anyway, whilst supposedly being an expert on the subject of Christianity in China, he did not even know the story of the Iron Cross mentioned above. Besides, I don’t like his tone! 

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