Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Born at the Château de Bienassis, Pléneuf, Brittany, 122 Aug., 1656; died at Pondicherry, 11 Nov., 1737. He entered the Society of Jesus, 5 Sept., 1673, and was one of the missionaries sent to China by Louis XIV in 1687 (see FERDINAND VERBIEST). He acquired a wide knowledge of the Chinese language and literature. Other learned Jesuits considered that he gave too much credit to modern Chinese commentators, who being atheists and materialists read their own ideas into the ancient Chinese sages. When the papal legate Mgr. de Tournon came to China in 1705, chiefly to regulate the question of the Chinese Rites, Visdelou was the only Jesuit favourable to their prohibition. Tournon appointed him Vicar Apostolic of Kwei-chou with the title of Bishop of Claudiopolis, but his superiors opposed the nomination, since Visdelou had not received papal dispensation from his vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignity. With the missionaries who had submitted to the decree against the rites, Visdelou followed the legate to Macao, where he was secretly consecrated bishop, 2 Feb., 1709. He then set out for Pondicherry where he arrived, 25 June, 1709; he remained there in great retirement in the house of the French Capuchins until his death. Visdelou took with him over 500 volumes in Chinese and almost his sole occupation consisted in working on these. He sent to Rome several writings on the questions of the rites. The Sinologist, James Legge, says he "was in the habit of writing extravagantly about the Chinese and caricaturing their sentiments" ("Notions of the Chinese concerning God and the spirit", Hong Kong, 1852, 10). His most trustworthy works deal with the history of the Tartars. He collected from Chinese historians unique documents on the peoples of Central and Eastern Asia, Huns, Tatars, Mongols, and Turks. His researches on this subject were first published as supplement to Herbelot's "Bibliotheque orientale" (1779). However, they must have assisted Deguignes in his history of the Huns, for the geographer Anville who had handled all Visdelou's valuable manuscripts on the Tatars tells us that the author had sent them to the Academician Malet, who died in 1736 ("Memoire de M. d'Anville sur la Chine", 1776, 33).

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video
  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?
  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More