Kindly contributed by Henry Nicholls, author of the forthcoming The Way of the Panda
The huge, foreboding oak doors of the Dengchi Valley Cathedral in Baoxing County, Sichuan are mostly locked. But once a week, on a Sunday, they are opened for the local inhabitants to attend a service in one of the oldest Catholic churches still standing in China’s Sichuan Province. Occasionally, too, perhaps a few times a month, a particular kind of tourist will step off the beaten trail and head up the dusty valley to this Christian outpost. More than likely it is not God calling them but the giant panda.