Boston College Website Highlights Jesuit Missionaries in China
Tags: Boston College, China, Jesuit Father Athanasius Kircher, Jesuit Father Christopher Clavius, Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci, jesuits, Society of Jesus
Rare works of Jesuit missionaries in China can now be viewed with a click of the mouse. Australian Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, an assistant professor of history at Boston College, has launched the website Beyond Ricci, www.bc.edu/beyondricci, a collection of digitized books that chronicles the scholarly work of Jesuit missionaries in China from the 16th through the 18th centuries.
Beyond Ricci provides scholars and researchers access to rare books containing historical narratives, maps, correspondence and musical compositions in five languages that depict life in China and the East-West exchanges initiated by the early Jesuit missionaries.
“It was a labor of love and an act of homage to my Jesuit brothers and their Chinese counterparts whose remarkable scholarship is preserved in these rare books that will now be available to visitors from Chestnut Hill to Canberra, San Francisco to Shanghai,” said Fr. Clarke of the project.
Among the digitized items are an 18th century atlas; melody lines from the Chinese Imperial Court that were transcribed by Jesuits in the mid-18th century; and a translation of Confucian texts by the Jesuit missionaries that represented the first introduction of Confucius to the Western world.
The website focuses on books from the Jesuitana Collection by or about Jesuit missionaries including Matteo Ricci, Philippe Couplet and Alvaro Semedo, as well as Roman-based Jesuits Christopher Clavius and Athanasius Kircher, who made use of the information sent back by the missionaries in China. The site was written by Fr. Clarke, who selected the books and images from Boston College library’s collection of 2,500 volumes, which were published prior to the Society’s suppression in 1773.
“This project takes rare books from a shelf in BC’s Burns Library and makes them accessible to a wide audience of visitors with either scholarly or casual interest in Chinese history,” said Fr. Clarke. “I am proud of this site and hope that it will help to enhance understanding of Chinese history and the role the Jesuit missionaries played in establishing these important ties to the East.” [Boston College]