Jesuit's Students Unveil Exhibit on Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings

Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke

Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke with items featured in the Boston College exhibit "Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings." (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

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Boston College Assistant Professor of History Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke helped his undgergrad students create an exhibit that opened on Mar. 21 titled “Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings.”

The exhibit, which highlights the history of East-West exchanges, has a number of multimedia resources to demonstrate Christian mission history in Asia.

In the 16th century, the Chinese were utilizing what at the time was advanced technology through their observatory in Beijing, Fr. Clarke said.

“In one display, we show the observatory and all the astronomical devices that they used during the time the Jesuits were there,” said student Alexander Gilman ’11.

Utilizing excerpts and outtakes from Clarke’s documentary, “Beyond Ricci: Celebrating 400 Years of the Chinese Catholic Church,” students were able to compile their own virtual history.

“One of the ways people learned about East-West cultural exchange was through six melody lines written down by a Jesuit in Beijing at that time,” said Clarke. Using these melodies as a creative point of departure, Clarke commissioned the composition of an aria that is played as people pass through the exhibit.

A number of rare books are also on display, including Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, the translations of the first three of the four canonical books of Confucianism. A group of Jesuits originally translated the philosophies of the Chinese to lead to greater understanding of Chinese thought and brought the culture to Europeans and beyond, Clarke said.

For more information, watch a video preview of the exhibit and visit the Boston College Chronicle.

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