“The Chinese hate ostentation. They call it ti-mien. And priest who practice it are regarded as dishonorable.” (p. 170)
In the early of 1902, Francis Chisholm arrives at Pai-tan, China. He has wrong thought on the greeting, the place, and the people. Not only dealing with different culture, he also meets the society who has a suspicion on him as a Catholic priest. However, Francis wants to get closer to those people no matter how.
In this new place, Francis struggles to build a new mission. He has worked alone for years until three Nuns come to help him. They are Mother Maria-Veronica, Sister Clotilde, and Sister Martha. Unavoidably, Francis conflicts with the Reverend Mother because of their different points of view. He also has conflict with General Wai Naian who wants to concord Pai-tan. He even gets limb because of Wai’s torture. Furthermore, another conflict arises between Francis and the Fiskes who bring the Methodist from America.
The heart-broken moment is when Francis loses his best friend, Dr. Willie Tulloch, during the fight against the plaque. Indeed, in China Francis experiences many things that make him closer to God and wiser. He surely learns more about tolerance.
One day, Francis is called home. He asks Bishop Anselm Mealey to give him a parish in Tynecastle. Anselm accepts his request. Few years later, Anselm sends Monsignor Sleeth to Tynecastle. Monsignor Sleeth asked Francis to retire, but he refuses. Father Francis Chisholm still wants to work for his parishioners.
The Keys of the Kingdom is A.J. Cronin’s novel published in 1941.