The Vatican has announced that one of the earliest Christian missionaries in China, Paolo Xu Guangqi, is to be beatified in Shanghai.
The announcement was made a day after the Vatican criticised China for pressurising and restraining Chinese Catholics.
Beijing and the Vatican severed ties in 1951 and relations remain strained.
There are more than five million Catholics in China. They are divided between those who attend the 'official' Catholic Church, administered by the Communist government, and those who remain loyal to Rome, who attend underground congregations.