Summary: The first Jesuits in
[Death of Giovanni di
Monte Carvino, first archbishop of Mongol Beijing (Khanbalik)]
Ignatius Loyola founds the Jesuit order with the objective
St. Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit, lands in western Japan
time, Macao serves as a trading
port to the Portuguese for their trade between China
Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) enters China
in Guangdong province, settles
first in Nanchang (1595; Jesuits dress as
Buddhist monks), then in
Nanjing, after 1601 in Beijing. (In the 19th century Ricci is revered as the deity
of Chinese clockmakers, Bodhisattva Ricci
pusa). The Jesuits serve the emperors as mathematicians,
astronomers, cartographers, interpreters, painters, and musicians.
are established in Zhaoqing, Shaozhou, Nanxiong (Guangdong
province) in the south, in Ganzhou and Nanchang in Jiangxi province (SE), in Nanjing, Huai’an,
By the end of the Ming Dynasty they had spread to almost all provinces, but
most of their missions concentrated in the lower Yangzi
area and in Fujian
province in Eastern China.
the emperors were impressed by the scientific knowledge and the European inventions
introduced to them by the Jesuits, the Christian religion and the hierarchical
institution of the church did not appeal to them. Christian communities in
the cities seemed to be a threat to public order. On the philosophical level
the Chinese “were unfamiliar with the category of the transcendent because
of their basic concept of an immanent order that was at the same time cosmic
and human, natural and social.” (Jacques Gernet,
A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge:
Press 1982, p. 454-455).
points of confrontation between the Jesuits, the Chinese authorities, and
- The Jesuits initially (and the
throughout their active period as missionaries) did not tolerate the ancestor
- Converts could not have concubines.
- The Jesuits did not tolerate
statues related to Chinese cults.
- The Jesuits were accused of creating
secret societies when they held secret meetings for mass with members of
the lay community.
- They were also accused of spying
for the Japanese and the pirates at the coast.
- The Christian belief focused
on a rebellious person who had been convicted as a criminal by the local
Ricci in one of the theological disputes held
in Nanjing Ricci eloquently but in an arrogant
manner ridiculed the famous Buddhist teacher, Zhuhong
who shortly after the discussion died. It was believed by some that Zhuhong
died of a broken heart because Ricci had mocked the concepts of ‘releasing
life’ and vegetarianism and reincarnation.