The spread of Catholicism in Tibet developed over a long period and was full of frustration. In 1624, occidental Priest Andrade and Missionary Maques first introduced the religion from India to Ngari Region , a cross-cultural boundary area. Under the support of the local ruler of Guge Kingdom then, they built Tibet's first Catholic church in 1626. However, due to opposition from Tibetan Buddhists, it only survived to about 1630, which also concluded the missionary activities in Ngari.
During that time, another missionary group of Cacella and Cabral came from Bhutan to another region of Tibet - Shigatse in 1628. Although also having won the patronage of the local leader, their plan was also strongly opposed by the local Buddhist monks, and finally ruined only three years later.
Later during the early half of the 1700s, various groups of Catholic missionaries had been to Lhasa successively. In 1921, they were able to build a small church in the city at last. However, not one Tibetan took part in the religion, except a few Nepalese, Kashmiri and Han people. Until 1741 only some younger Tibetans and servants of the missionaries - 26 Tibetans in all - were persuaded to receive the baptism of Catholicism. However, for the serious conflict between Tibetan Buddhism and Catholicism, the local government of Tibet commanded to expel the Catholic missionaries in 1745, and the church also didn't escape being destroyed.
After the 19th century, western missionaries pulled their attention from the central area of Tibet, and transferred to the Tibetan inhabited areas of Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan. Although also strongly opposed by local Tibetans, a church was survived in Yanjing Village, a remote area at the junction of Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan. From the year 1865 when Catholicism first spread to the village, a total of 17 western priests had presided over the church.
There are over 900 people living in Yanjing Village - mainly Tibetans with a few Naxi ethnic people. The Catholics there number over 740 now, including over 600 locals. While keeping their own beliefs, they also have similar living styles and habits with Tibetans. They use the Tibetan translation edition of the Bible and wear Tibetan costumes, while having a European name given by the priest, and receiving a burial according to the Catholic teachings. They consider the Tibetan New Year as the beginning of a year, while still celebrating Christmas Day. And the church is the mixed Catholic and Tibetan architectural style, and even traditional Tibetan offerings of Khatag can be seen in front of the picture of Virgin Mary.
Now the priest of the Yanjing Catholic Church is a local Tibetan. On Christmas Day (without Christmas trees or Santa Claus) the church would invite converts from the nearby provinces' churches, and even masters of local Buddhist monasteries and local Buddhists to celebrate. And when the Ghost-Exorcising Festival (24 December on the Tibetan Calendar) of Tibetans comes, the priest and Catholics are also invited to celebrate the festival with Buddhists.