A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610


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Matteo Ricci

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Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. Princeton University Press. Ricci incorporated his replies in the published version. He wrote the True Meaning for Confucians in the familiar Platonic style of a dialogue between a Western and a Chinese scholar. Working from Confucian principles, the Western scholar leads his colleague slowly and logically to an appreciation and understanding of Christianity.


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Subsequent scholars praise the treatise as a magnificent synthesis of Confucianism and Christianity. Rome itself vacillated for more than one hundred years.

Book Review: A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552–1610

Hsia touches one sensitive issue in passing. As a student at the Jesuit college in Goa in the s, Ricci protested against a decision that indigenous students could study only Latin and casuistry, and not the superior subjects of philosophy and theology. Similarly he supported the admission of Indians into the Society of Jesus.

Once in Macau, Ricci studied Chinese language and customs.

The story of Matteo Ricci in China, documented by Francesco Maglioccola

It was the beginning of a long project that made him one of the first Western scholars to master Chinese script and Classical Chinese. With Ruggieri, he traveled to Guangdong 's major cities, Canton and Zhaoqing then the residence of the Viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi , seeking to establish a permanent Jesuit mission outside Macau. In , Ricci and Ruggieri settled in Zhaoqing, at the invitation of the governor of Zhaoqing, Wang Pan, who had heard of Ricci's skill as a mathematician and cartographer.

Ricci stayed in Zhaoqing from to , when he was expelled by a new viceroy. It is thought that, during their time in Zhaoqing, Ricci and Ruggieri compiled a Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, the first in any European language, for which they developed a system for transcribing Chinese words in the Latin alphabet. The manuscript was misplaced in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, rediscovered only in , and published only in There is now a memorial plaque in Zhaoqing to commemorate Ricci's six-year stay there, as well as a "Ricci Memorial Centre" [8] in a building dating from the s.

Expelled from Zhaoqing in , Ricci obtained permission to relocate to Shaoguan Shaozhou, in Ricci's account in the north of the province, and reestablish his mission there. Further travels saw Ricci reach Nanjing Ming's southern capital and Nanchang in In August , Alessandro Valignano — , his superior, appointed him Major Superior of the mission in China, with the rank and powers of a Provincial, a charge that he fulfilled until his death.

However, because of a Chinese intervention against Japanese invasion of Korea at the time, Ricci could not reach the Imperial Palace. During the winter of , Ricci, with the help of his Jesuit colleague Lazzaro Cattaneo, compiled another Chinese-Portuguese dictionary, in which tones in Chinese syllables were indicated in Roman text with diacritical marks.

Unlike Ricci's and Ruggieri's earlier Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, this work has not been found. In , Ricci was invited to become an adviser to the imperial court of the Wanli Emperor , the first Westerner to be invited into the Forbidden City. This honor was in recognition of Ricci's scientific abilities, chiefly his predictions of solar eclipses, which were significant events in the Chinese world. Once established in Beijing, Ricci was able to meet important officials and leading members of the Beijing cultural scene and convert a number of them to Christianity.

A Jesuit in the Forbidden City eBook by R. Po-chia Hsia - | Rakuten Kobo

Ricci was also the first European to learn about the Kaifeng Jews , [16] being contacted by a member of that community who was visiting Beijing in Ricci never visited Kaifeng , Henan Province, but he sent a junior missionary there in , the first of many such missions. In fact, the elderly Chief Rabbi of the Jews was ready to cede his power to Ricci, as long as he gave up eating pork, but Ricci never accepted the position. Ricci died on 11 May , in Beijing , aged By the code of the Ming Dynasty, foreigners who died in China had to be buried in Macau.

Diego de Pantoja made a special plea to the court, requesting a burial plot in Beijing, in the light of Ricci's contributions to China. The Wanli Emperor granted this request and designated a Buddhist temple for the purpose. In October , Ricci's remains were transferred there. Longobardo entrusted another Jesuit, Nicolas Trigault , with expanding and editing, as well as translating into Latin, those of Ricci's papers that were found in his office after his death. This work was first published in in Augsburg as De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas and soon was translated into a number of other European languages.

Ricci could speak Chinese as well as read and write classical Chinese , the literary language of scholars and officials. He was known for his appreciation of Chinese culture in general but condemned the prostitution which was widespread in Beijing at the time. He did not explain the Catholic faith as entirely foreign or new; instead, he said that the Chinese culture and people always believed in God and that Christianity is simply the completion of their faith.

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He also cited many synonyms from the Confucian Classics. He supported Chinese traditions by agreeing with the veneration of family ancestors.

Dominican and Franciscan missionaries considered this an unacceptable accommodation, and later appealed to the Vatican on the issue. Some contemporary authors have praised Ricci as an exemplar of beneficial inculturation , [24] [25] avoiding at the same time distorting the Gospel message or neglecting the indigenous cultural media. Like developments in India, the identification of European culture with Christianity led almost to the end of Catholic missions in China, but Christianity continued to grow in Sichuan and some other locations.

Xu Guangqi and Ricci become the first two to translate some of the Confucian classics into a western language, Latin. Ricci also met a Korean emissary to China, Yi Sugwang.

A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610

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