Matteo Ricci

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Matteo Ricci
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Beijing, Ming dynasty>Ming Empire| resting_place = Zhalan cemetery, Beijing| resting_place_coordinates = | location = | title = Superior General of the China mission| period = 1597–1610| successor = Nicolò Longobardo| reason = His death| rank = Superior General| works = Kunyu Wanguo Quantu| ordination = }}

|altname=Courtesy name: Xitaix1ai|4}}}}

{{stack end}}Matteo Ricci, S.J. ({{IPA-it|matˈtɛːo ˈrittʃi}}; ; 6 October 1552 – 11 May 1610), was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. His 1602 map of the world in Chinese characters introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia. He is considered a Servant of God by the Roman Catholic Church.Ricci arrived at the Portuguese settlement of Macau in 1582 where he began his missionary work in China. He became the first European to enter the Forbidden City of Beijing in 1601 when invited by the Wanli Emperor, who sought his services in matters such as court astronomy and calendrical science. He converted several prominent Chinese officials to Catholicism, such as Xu Guangqi, who aided in translating Euclid's Elements into Chinese as well as the Confucian classics into Latin for the first time.

Early life

Ricci was born 6 October 1552, in Macerata, part of the Papal States, and today a city in the Italian region of Marche. He made his classical studies in his native town and studied law at Rome for two years. He entered the Society of Jesus in April 1571 at the Roman College. While there, in addition to philosophy and theology, he also studied mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy under the direction of Christopher Clavius. In 1577, he applied for a missionary expedition to the Far East. He sailed from Lisbon, Portugal in March 1578 and arrived in Goa, a Portuguese colony, the following September. Ricci remained employed in teaching and the ministry there until the end of Lent 1582, when he was summoned to Macau to prepare to enter China. Ricci arrived at Macau in the early part of August.WEB,weblink Matteo Ricci, Brucker, Joseph, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 13: Revelation-Simon Stock, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1912, 17 August 2017, 174525342,

Ricci in China

(File:Matteo Ricci's way from Macau to Beijing.jpg|200px|thumbnail|right|Matteo Ricci's way from Macau to Beijing){{further|Europeans in Medieval China}}In August 1582, Ricci arrived at Macau, a Portuguese trading post on the South China Sea. At the time, Christian missionary activity in China was almost completely limited to Macau, where some of the local Chinese people had converted to Christianity and lived in the Portuguese manner. No Christian missionary had attempted seriously to learn the Chinese language until 1579 (three years before Ricci's arrival), when Michele Ruggieri was invited from Portuguese India expressly to study Chinese, by Alessandro Valignano, founder of St. Paul Jesuit College (Macau), and to prepare for the Jesuits' mission from Macau into Mainland China.Gallagher (trans) (1953), pp. 131-132, 137Once in Macau, Ricci studied Chinese language and customs. 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 1583, 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 1583 to 1589, when he was expelled by a new viceroy. It was in Zhaoqing, in 1584, that Ricci composed the first European-style world map in Chinese, called "Da Ying Quan Tu" ({{zh|c=大瀛全圖|l=Complete Map of the Great World}}).TANG Kaijian and ZHOU Xiaolei, "Four Issues in the Dissemination
of Matteo Ricci's World Map during the Ming Dynasty", in STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF NATURAL SCIENCES, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2015), pp. 294-315. 汤开建 周孝雷 《明代利玛窦世界地图传播史四题》,《自然科学史研究》第34卷,第3期(2015年):294-315 No prints of the 1584 map are known to exist, but, of the much improved and expanded Kunyu Wanguo Quantu of 1602,NEWS,weblink Historic map coming to Minnesota, Baran, Madeleine, 16 December 2009, Minnesota Public Radio, 12 January 2010, St. Paul, Minnesota., six recopied, rice-paper versions survive.NEWS,weblink Ancient map with China at centre goes on show in US, 12 January 2010, BBC News,
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 1934, and published only in 2001.Yves Camus, "Jesuits' Journeys in Chinese Studies" {{webarchive|url= |date=24 September 2015 }}"Dicionário Português-Chinês : 葡汉辞典 (Pu-Han cidian): Portuguese-Chinese dictionary" by Michele Ruggieri, Matteo Ricci; edited by John W. Witek. Published 2001, Biblioteca Nacional. {{ISBN|972-565-298-3}}. Partial preview available on Google BooksThere is now a memorial plaque in Zhaoqing to commemorate Ricci's six-year stay there, as well as a "Ricci Memorial Centre"WEB,weblink Ricci Memorial Centre,, 14 May 2014, in a building dating from the 1860s.Expelled from Zhaoqing in 1589, Ricci obtained permission to relocate to Shaoguan (Shaozhou, in Ricci's account) in the north of the province, and reestablish his mission there.Gallagher (253), pp. 205-227.Further travels saw Ricci reach Nanjing (Ming's southern capital) and Nanchang in 1595. In August 1597, Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606), 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.Dehergne, 219. He moved to Tongzhou (a port of Beijing) in 1598, and first reached the capital Beijing itself on 7 September 1598. However, because of a Chinese intervention against Japanese invasion of Korea at the time, Ricci could not reach the Imperial Palace. After waiting for two months, he left Beijing; first for Nanjing and then Suzhou in Southern Zhili Province.During the winter of 1598, 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 1601, 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.Chan Kei thong. Faith of Our Father, Shanghai: China Publishing Group Orient Publishing Centre. He established the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, the oldest Catholic church in the city.(Chinese) "The Tomb of Matteo Ricci" Beijing A Guide to China's Capital City Accessed 5 October 2010 Ricci was given free access to the Forbidden City but never met the reclusive Wanli Emperor, who, however, granted him patronage, with a generous stipend and supported Ricci's completion of the Zhifang Waiji, China's first global atlas.WEB, {{wdl, 227, |author=Li, Zhizao |title=職方外紀 六卷卷首一卷 |language=Chinese |trans-title=Chronicle of Foreign Lands |work=World Digital Library |date=1623 }}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. One conversion, which he called "extraordinary", occurred in 1602, when Li Yingshi, a decorated veteran of the Japanese/Korean War and a well-known astrologer and feng shui expert, became a Christian and provided the Jesuits with a wealth of information.Gallagher (trans) (1953), pp. 433-435 {{citation |first=Peter M. |last=Engelfriet |publisher=BRILL |year=1998 |isbn=90-04-10944-7|title=Euclid in China: the genesis of the first Chinese translation of Euclid's Elements, books I-VI (Jihe yuanben, Beijing, 1607) and its reception up to 1723|url=weblink|page=70}}
Ricci was also the first European to learn about the Kaifeng Jews, being contacted by a member of that community who was visiting Beijing in 1605. Ricci never visited Kaifeng, Henan Province, but he sent a junior missionary there in 1608, 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.White, William Charles. The Chinese Jews. New York: Paragon Book Reprint Corporation, 1966File:Matteo Ricci Tombstone Beijing 2017.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Ricci's grave () in Beijing's Zhalan CemeteryZhalan CemeteryRicci died on 11 May 1610, in Beijing, aged 57. 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 1610, Ricci's remains were transferred there.WEB,weblink The Tomb of Matteo Ricci,, 14 May 2014, The graves of Ferdinand Verbiest, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, and other missionaries are also there, and it became known as the Zhalan Cemetery, which is today located within the campus of the Beijing Administrative College, in Xicheng District, Beijing.NEWS, Qin, Danfeng, At last, they rest in peace,weblink Global Times, October 10, 2010, March 29, 2010, Ricci was succeeded as Superior General of the China mission by Nicolò Longobardo in 1610. 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 1615 in Augsburg as De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas and soon was translated into a number of other European languages.BOOK
, Mungello
, David E.
, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology
, University of Hawaii Press
, 1989
, 0-8248-1219-0
, 46–48

Ricci's approach to Chinese culture

File:Matteo Ricci 2.jpg|thumb|200px|left|An early 17th-century depiction of Ricci in Chinese robes ]]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.BOOK, Hinsch, Bret, 1990, Passions of the Cut Sleeve : The Male Homosexual Tradition in China, University of California Press, 2, 0-520-06720-7, During his research, he discovered that in contrast to the cultures of South Asia, Chinese culture was strongly intertwined with Confucian values and therefore decided to use existing Chinese concepts to explain Christianity.Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, "Western Gods Meet in the East": Shapes and Contexts of the Muslim-Jesuit Dialogue in Early Modern China, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 55, No. 2/3, Cultural Dialogue in South Asia and Beyond: Narratives, Images and Community (sixteenth-nineteenth centuries) (2012), pp. 517-546. With Superior Valignano's formal approval, he aligned himself with the Confucian intellectually elite literati,Bashir, Hassan Europe and the Eastern Other Lexington Books 2013 p.93 {{ISBN|9780739138038}} and even adopted their mode of dress. 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.BOOK, August, Franzen, Kleine Kirchengeschichte, Freiburg, Herder, 1988, 3-451-08577-1, {{rp|323}} He borrowed an unusual Chinese term, Tiānzhǔ (}}, "Lord of Heaven") to describe the God of Abraham, despite the term's origin in traditional Chinese worship of Heaven. (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.{{rp|324}} This Chinese rites controversy continued for centuries, with the most recent Vatican statement as recently as 1939. Some contemporary authors have praised Ricci as an exemplar of beneficial inculturation,{{Citation | last=Griffiths | first=Bede | author-link=Bede Griffiths | editor-last=Derrick | editor-first=Christopher | editor-link=Christopher Derrick | title=Light of Revelation and Non-Christians | place=New York, NY | publisher=Alba House | year=1965 | chapter=The meeting of East and West}}{{Citation | last=Dunn| first=George H. | editor-last=Derrick | editor-first=Christopher | editor-link=Christopher Derrick | title=Light of Revelation and Non-Christians | place=New York, NY | publisher=Alba House | year=1965 | chapter=The contribution of China's culture towards the future of Christianity}} avoiding at the same time distorting the Gospel message or neglecting the indigenous cultural media.BOOK, Zhiqiu Xu, 2016, Natural Theology Reconfigured: Confucian Axiology and American Pragmatism, Routledge, New York,weblink Google Books, 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.{{rp|324}}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. He taught Yi the basic tenets of Catholicism and gave him several books concerning the west which were incorporated into his Jibong Yuseol, the first Korean encyclopedia.National Assembly, Republic of Korea: Korea History Along with João Rodrigues's gifts to the ambassador Jeong Duwon in 1631, Ricci's gifts influenced the creation of Korea's Silhak movement.BOOK, Bowman, John S., 2000,weblink Columbia Chronologies of Asian history and Culture, Columbia University Press, 212, 0-231-11004-9,

Cause of canonization

The cause of his beatification, originally begun in 1984, was reopened on 24 January 2010, at the cathedral of the Italian diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia.WEB,weblink Father Matteo Ricci’s beatification cause reopened,, 14 May 2014, WEB,weblink Diocese to re-launch beatification cause for missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci,, 25 January 2010, 14 May 2014, Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Macerata, formally closed the diocesan phase of the sainthood process on 10 May 2013. The cause moved to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican in 2014.


The following places and institutions are named after Matteo Ricci: In the run-up to the 400th anniversary of Ricci's death, the Vatican Museums hosted a major exhibit dedicated to his life. Additionally, Italian film director Gjon Kolndrekaj produced a 60-minute documentary about Ricci, released in 2009, titled Matteo Ricci: A Jesuit in the Dragon's Kingdom, filmed in Italy and China.WEB,weblink A Jesuit in the dragon's kingdom,, 14 May 2014, WEB, Category: Focus: The Legacy of Matteo Ricci,weblink Interview with Gjon Kolndrekaj,, 20 May 2010, 14 May 2014, In Taipei, the Taipei Ricci Institute and the National Central Library of Taiwan opened jointly the Matteo Ricci Pacific Studies Reading RoomWEB, Category: Focus: The Legacy of Matteo Ricci,weblink Remembering Ricci: Opening of the Matteo Ricci - Pacific Studies Reading Room at the National Central Library,, 20 May 2010, 14 May 2014, and the Taipei-basedonline magazine eRenlai, directed by Jesuit Benoît Vermander, dedicated its June 2010 issue to the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Ricci's death.WEB,weblink June 2010,, 14 May 2014, (File:Matteo Ricci Far East 1602 Larger.jpg|thumb|Map of East Asia by Matteo Ricci in 1602.)


The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven

The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (天主實義) is a book written by Ricci, which argues that Confucianism and Christianity are not opposed and in fact are remarkably similar in key respects. It was written in the form of a dialogue, originally in Chinese. Ricci used the treatise in his missionary effort to convert Chinese literati, men who were educated in Confucianism and the Chinese classics. In the Chinese Rites controversy, some Roman-Catholic missionaries raised the question whether Ricci and other Jesuits had gone too far and changed Christian beliefs to win converts.Peter Phan argues that True Meaning was used by a Jesuit missionary to Vietnam, Alexandre de Rhodes, in writing a catechism for Vietnamese Christians.BOOK, Phan, Peter C., Mission and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes & Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam, Orbis Books, 2015, 978-1-60833-474-2,weblink 1 February 2017, Note: Phan offers a concise summary of the contents of True Meaning as well. In 1631, Girolamo Maiorica and Bernardino Reggio, both Jesuit missionaries to Vietnam, started a short-lived press in Thăng Long (present-day Hanoi) to print copies of True Meaning and other texts.JOURNAL, harv, Catholic Written and Oral Cultures in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam, Tara, Alberts, Journal of Early Modern History, Leiden, Brill Publishers, Koninklijke Brill, 2012, 16, 390, 10.1163/15700658-12342325, The book was also influential on later Protestant missionaries to China, James Legge and Timothy Richard, and through them John Nevius, John Ross, and William Edward Soothill, all influential in establishing Protestantism in China and Korea.

Other works

{{multiple image
| width = 175
| footer = Kunyu Wanguo Quantu (坤輿萬國全圖), printed by Matteo Ricci upon request of the Wanli Emperor in Beijing, 1602
| image1 = Kunyu Wanguo Quantu by Matteo Ricci Plate 1-3.jpg
| caption1 = Left plates 1-3
| image2 = Kunyu Wanguo Quantu by Matteo Ricci Plate 4-6.jpg
| caption2 = Right plates 4-6
File:Kunyu Wanguo Quantu (坤輿萬國全圖).jpg|thumb|355px|Unattributed, very detailed, two-page colored edition (1604?), copy of the 1602 map with Japanese katakanakatakana
  • De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas: the journals of Ricci that were completed and translated into Latin by another Jesuit, Nicolas Trigault, soon after Ricci's death. Available in various editions:
    • Trigault, Nicolas S. J. "China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Mathew Ricci: 1583-1610". English translation by Louis J. Gallagher, S.J. (New York: Random House, Inc. 1953).
    • On Chinese Government,WEB,weblink Chinese Cultural Studies: Matteo Ricci: On Chinese Government, Selection from his Journals (1583-1610 CE), Paul, Halsall,, 17 August 2017, an excerpt from Chapter One of Gallagher's translation.
    • De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas,WEB,weblink De Christiana expeditione apud sinas suscepta ab Societate Jesu. Ex P. Matthaei Riccii eiusdem Societatis commentariis Libri V: Ad S.D.N. Paulum V. In Quibus Sinensis Regni mores, leges, atque instituta, & novae illius Ecclesiae difficillima primordia accurate & summa fide describuntur, Matteo, Ricci, Nicolas, Trigault, 17 August 2017, Gualterus, 17 August 2017, Google Books, full Latin text, available on Google Books
    • A discourse of the Kingdome of China, taken out of Ricius and Trigautius, containing the countrey, people, government, religion, rites, sects, characters, studies, arts, acts; and a Map of China added, drawne out of one there made with Annotations for the understanding thereof (an early English translation of excerpts from De Christiana expeditione) in Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625). Can be found in the "Hakluytus posthumus".WEB,weblink Full text of "Hakluytus posthumus",, 17 August 2017, The book also appears on Google Books, but only in snippet view.WEB,weblink Hakluytus Posthumus, Or, Purchas His Pilgrimes: Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen and Others, Samuel, Purchas, 17 August 2017, J. MacLehose and Sons, 17 August 2017, Google Books,
  • An excerpt from The Art of Printing by Matteo Riccweblink
  • Ricci's World Map of 1602weblink
  • Rare 1602 World Map, the First Map in Chinese to Show the Americas, on Display at Library of Congress, 12 Jan to 10 April 2010.WEB,weblink Rare 1602 World Map, the First Map in Chinese to Show the Americas, on Display at Library of Congress, Jan. 12 to April 10,, 17 August 2017,
  • The Chinese translation of the ancient Greek mathematical treatise Euclid's Elements (幾何原本), published and printed in 1607 by Matteo Ricci and his Chinese colleague Xu Guangqi

See also






  • Dehergne, Joseph, S.J. (1973). Répertoire des Jésuites de Chine de 1552 à 1800. Rome: Institutum Historicum S.I. OCLC 462805295
  • Hsia, R. Po-chia. (2007). "The Catholic Mission and translations in China, 1583–1700" in Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe (Peter Burke and R. Po-chia Hsia, eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {{ISBN|9780521862080}} {{ISBN|0521862086}}; OCLC 76935903
  • Spence, Jonathan D.. (1984). The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. New York: Viking. {{ISBN|9780670468300}}; OCLC 230623792
  • Vito Avarello, L'oeuvre italienne de Matteo Ricci : anatomie d'une rencontre chinoise, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2014, 738 pages. ({{ISBN|978-2-8124-3107-4}})

Further reading

  • Cronin, Vincent. (1955). The Wise Man from the West: Matteo Ricci and his Mission to China. (1955). OCLC 664953 N.B.: A convenient paperback reissue of this study was published in 1984 by Fount Paperbacks, {{ISBN|0-00-626749-1}}.
  • Gernet, Jacques. (1981). (China and the Christian Impact|China and the Christian Impact: a conflict of cultures). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {{ISBN|0521313198}} {{ISBN|9780521313193}}; OCLC 21173711
  • George L. Harris, "The Mission of Matteo Ricci, S.J.: A Case Study of an Effort at Guided Culture Change in China in The Sixteenth Century", in Monumenta Serica, Vol. XXV, 1966 (168 pp.).
  • Simon Leys, Madness of the Wise : Ricci in China, an article from his book, The Burning Forest (1983). This is an interesting account, and contains a critical review of The Memory Palace by Jonathan D. Spence.
  • Mao Weizhun, « European influences on Chinese humanitarian practices. A longitudinal study » in : Emulations - Journal of young scholars in Social Sciences, n°7 (June 2010).
  • BOOK, World Digital Library, {{wdl, 227, |title = 職方外紀 六卷卷首一卷 |trans-title = Chronicle of Foreign Lands |year = 1623 }} This book explains Matteo Ricci's world map of 1574.
  • 《利瑪竇世界地圖研究》(A Study of Matteo Ricci's World Map), book in Chinese by HUANG Shijian and GONG Yingyan (黃時鑒 龔纓晏), 上海古籍出版社 (Shanghai Ancient Works Publishing House), 2004å¹´, {{ISBN|9787532536962}}

External links

{{Commons|Matteo Ricci}} {{-}}{{Notable foreigners who visited China}}{{Christianity and China}}{{Authority control}}

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