Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci’
The new Matteo Ricci Cultural Exchange Exhibition Center details the life of the Jesuit priest, known as Li Madou to Chinese people, through an array of exhibits and written accounts.
The center is located near the ruins of the first church and Jesuit house that Fr. Ricci and his companion Jesuit Father Michele Ruggieri were allowed to build after they arrived in China in 1583. The church, called “Xianhua Temple” out of respect for Buddhist custom, was dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
Jesuit Father Gabriel Li Jiafang of Jiangmen, who attended the opening, hoped the exhibition, which is designed to boost tourism, would make more people aware of the missionary and the Catholic faith.
“The local Church has provided historical material such as books and written records for the Ricci exhibition center which is managed by the city museum. A replica of a Ricci statue owned by the parish is also erected there,” the pastor of Zhaoqing’s Immaculate Conception Church said.
Other exhibits include Fr. Ricci’s writings, items of clothing, scientific instruments and astronomical data, to help visitors understand his background, his six years in Zhaoqing (until 1589) and his contribution to cultural exchanges between East and West.
The missionary strategies used by the Jesuits in China constitute an advanced and effective model for the enculturalization of Christianity. This is what emerged, in brief, from a presentation held in May at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome by Jesuit Father Klaus Schatz, a professor of church history at the St. George’s Philosophical and Theological School in Frankfurt.
Fr. Schatz’s presentation was part of a series of conferences on the theme of “Conversion: A Change of God? Experiences and Reflections on Interreligious Dialogue”, launched by the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies of Religion and Culture (ISIRC) at the Gregorian University.
Speaking on the Chinese mission founded by Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci and carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries, Schatz stressed that the scope of the Jesuits, in the beginning, was aimed at earning credit with the upper echelons of society. They wanted to gain the trust of the court and the emperor, who were the ones who shaped an official interpretation of religious rites. The novelty of Christianity, presented by the Jesuits to the Chinese, was that every man can have a direct and immediate relationship with God. This was a message unheard of in a country where only the emperor could make sacrifices to heaven.
Ultimately, their mission had a much farther reach. Korea is a unique example in the history of Christianity of a local church starting not through preaching, or direct personal contact with missionaries or Christians, but through literature. Here, the Christian faith got on its feet towards the end of the 18th century because a group of Koreans read Ricci’s book on the teaching of the Lord.
H2onews, a Catholic news service that distributes multimedia in nine languages, has more on Schatz’s presentation at the Pontifical Gregorian University here.