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Ancient Christians

The introduction of Christianity into China has been ascribed not only to the Apostle of India, St. Thomas, but also to St. Bartholomew. In the third century, Arnobius, in "Adversus Gentes", speaks of the Seres , with the Persians and the Medes, as among the nations reached by "that new power which has arisen from the works done by the Lord and his Apostles ". Though there is evidence that Christianity existed in Mesopotamia and Persia during the fourth century, as evidenced by the persecutions which began in 345 under Sapor (309-379), there is no proof that it spread to China. After the condemnation of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, at the Council of Ephesus (431) and his banishment, his disciples spread his errors through Asia. They seemed to have reached China in the seventh century, according to the Si-ngan-fu inscription. In should be added that, according to Ebedjesus, some thought that Archæus, Archbishop of Selucia, had created a metropolitan see in China in 411, while others said that the metropolitans of China dated only from Saliba Zacha, patriarch of the Nestorians from 714 to 728. According to Pauthier, the T'ang Emperor, Hiuan T'sung issued in 745 an edict wherein it was stated that the temples of the religion from Ta Ta'in being known popularly as Persian temples, it was ordered that, this being inaccurate, thenceforth the latter name should be changed to Ta Ts'in temples.

Si-ngan-fu Inscription

In the year 1625 the Jesuits in Peking were informed that a slab referring to the Christian religion had been found not long before, possibly in 1623, at Ch'ang-ngan (Si-ngan-fu). Father Nicolas Trigault was sent to inspect the stone, which had been discovered at Cheu-che, some distance from Ch'ang-ngan. It was one of the monuments called by the Chinese antiquaries pei . The French traveller, Grenard, who visited Si-ngan-fu a few years ago gives the following measurements: height, 7 ft., 9 ins., width 2 ft. 9 ins., thickness 10 ins. At the top a cross is incised, under which nine large characters in three columns for the heading, which reads as follows: Monument commemorating the introduction and propagation of the noble law of Ta T' sin in the Middle Kingdom. According to the text of the inscription, Olopen arrived from Ta T' sin at Ch'ang-ngan in the ninth year of the period Chang-kwan (635); Emperor T'ai Tsung sent his minster, Duke Fang Huan-ling, to receive him and conduct him to the palace; the Scriptures were translated, and the Emperor, becoming convinced of the correctness and truth of Olopen's religion, gave special orders for its propagation, and in the seventh month of the twelfth year of Chang-kwan (638), in the autumn, issued a proclamation: a Ta T' sin monastery was built, etc. The conclusion of the inscription runs as follows: Erected in the second year of the period Kien-chung (781) of the great T'ang dynasty, the year star being in Tso-yo, on the seventh day of the first month, being Sunday. The inscription consists of 1780 characters; in addition to the Chinese characters, at the foot and on the sides, the stele also exhibits a series of data in the Syriac language, in Estrangelo characters. Sir Henry Yule (Marco Polo, II, 27) thinks that Olopen is only a Chinese form of rabban , a monk, while Prof. Hirth makes Olopen stand for Ruben, or Rupen. It appears from a paper by J. Takakusu (Ts'ung-pao, VII, 589-591) that Adam ( King-tsing ) who erected the monument under Te-tsung, under the same emperor, translated, with a Buddhist, a Buddhist Sûtrç, the "Satpâramitâ", from a Hu text.

The question of the authenticity of the inscription has been formerly often raised, but today no one can doubt the genuineness of this most important document for the history of the propagation of the Faith in the Far East; we fully agree with A. Wylie, who writes: If the Nestorian tablet can be proved a forgery, there are few existing memorials of bygone dynasties which can withstand the same type of arguments. This inscription is generally considered as emanating from Nestorians ; but this is supported only by circumstantial evidence, for it must be remarked that nothing in it is characteristic of Nestorianism.


The Nestorians were successful in converting the Keraits to Christianity at the beginning of the eleventh century, as related by the Christian historian, Bar Hebræus. The Keraits remained Christians till the time of Jenghiz Khan, as is attested by Rashiduddin; Their head is spoken of by Rubruck and Marco Polo as Ung Khan (Wang Khan), identified with Prester John ; when Wang Khan was defeated by Jenghiz, his niece, Sorhabyani, married Tuli, the fourth son of the conqueror, and became the mother of Kublai. When Kublai removed his capital to Peking, he founded in 1280 the chief Christian consistory, under the name of Ch'ung-fu-tze ; the priests of the Nestorian sect were known as Erkeun (Ye-li Ko-wen). but this term was later applied to Christians in general, who were called by the Mohammedans Tersa (transcribed Tie-sie ). The last name, however, disappeared with the removal of the capital to Peking. Mar Sergius, a Nestorian, and other Christians are mentioned in a description of Chin-kiang-fu. The Nestorians had a number of bishoprics throughout Asia and two archbishoprics, one at Cambalue (Peking), one at Tangut (Tanchet); there is even a record of a Chinese Nestorian, Mar Jabalaha (b. 1245), a pupil of another Nestorian, Rabban Sauma (b. in Peking), being appointed Patriarch of Persia when Denha died, though he was unacquainted with the Syriac tongue. This is a proof of the influence of the Mongols of China. Buddhism, however, prevailed at court, and two of the Nestorian churches were converted to heathen temples. The prosperity of the Nestorians in China continued through the Mongol period. We may judge their numbers and influence by the fact that friar Oderic, about 1324, found three Nestorian churches in the city of Yang-chou, but soon afterwards they fell into decay. Evidence of their existence was found by the Jesuits at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Medieval Catholic Missions

The great religious crusade in Asia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries dates from the Council of Lyons held in 1245 by Pope Innocent IV. The interests of Christendom were threatened by the Mongolian conquest, and it became necessary to send ambassadors to the Tatar chief to find out his intentions. Two mendicant orders, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, who had been instituted at the beginning of the thirteenth century, were ready to furnish the agents for the mission. John of Plano Carpini, a Franciscan, accompanied by Friar Stephen of Bohemia, left Lyons on 16 April, 1245, and was joined at Breslau by Friar Benedict, a Pole. They went by way of Moscow and Kieff, and in February, 1246, reached the camp of Batu, grandson of Jenghiz, on the Volga; thence they went to Karakorum to the to the court of Kuyuk Khan. On 13 November they began their return voyage with the Mongol chief's reply to the papal letter and reached Avignon in 1247. As a reward, Carpini was appointed Archbishop of Antivari. Four Dominican friars, Anselm of Lombardy, Simon of Saint-Quentin, Alberic, and Alexander, joined at Toflis by Andrew of Longjumeau and Guichard of Cremona, were sent on a mission to the Mongol general, Baïju, in Persia, but were received badly, and dismissed on 25 July, 1245, with a haughty letter for the pope. St. Louis, King of France, sent the Franciscan, William of Rubruck (known as Rubruquis), to the court of Mangu Khan, successor of Kuyuk; he returned to his convent at Acre (1255), were he wrote an account of his voyage. Speaking of Carpini and Rubruck, Yule says (Cathay, I, p. CXXIII): These were the first, so far as I know, to bring to western Europe the revived knowledge of a great and civilized nation lying in the extreme east upon the shores of the ocean. To this kingdom they gave the name, now first heard in Europe, of Cathay. Though the first missionaries went sent to the court of Kublai by Nicholas III (1277-80), the real founder of the mission of Cambalue was John of Montecorvino, a Franciscan friar (b. at Salerno, 1247), sent by Nicholas IV. Giovanni probably reached the Mongol capital before the death of the Great Khan. In 1307 Clement V sent seven friars having the rank of bishop, who were to consecrate Montecorvino as Archbishop of Cambalue and Primate of the Far East; only Andrew of Perugia, Gerard, and Peregrinus reached China in 1308 and consecrated Montecorvino; a bishopric was erected at Zaitun in Fu-kien, which was occupied in turn by Gerard (d. 1313), Peregrinus (d. 1322), and Andrew of Perugia ; Montecorvino died in 1333 and was succeeded by Nicholas, a Paris theologian, who arrived in China with twenty-six friars and six lay brothers. A mission was also created at Ili-baluc in Central Asia with Richard of Burgundy as its bishop, but it was destroyed. In 1362 the fifth bishop of Zaitun, James of Florence, was massacred. In 1370, William of Prato, professor of the University of Paris, was appointed to the See of Peking. An apostolic legate, Francisco di Podio, with twelve companions, was sent out in 1371, but they were never heard from; all the Christian missions disappeared in the turmoil which followed the fall of the Mongols and the accession of the Ming dynasty (1368).

Modern Missions

If the Dominican friar, Gaspar da Cruz, was actually the first modern missionary to China, where, however, he stayed but a short time, the Jesuits under Matteo Ricci were the first to give a solid basis to the missions in the Celestial Empire. They spread through the Kwang-tung province to the central provinces, Nan-king, Shanghai, Hang-chou, endeavoring to reach Peking. In 1602 the Jesuit, Benedict de Goæs, started from Agra in an attempt to reach Peking by land. He arrived at the frontier town of Su-chou, where he died, 18 March, 1606, from the fatigue of his long journey. The Jesuits soon found eager competitors in the Dominicans and the Franciscans, who arrived in 1633, but where expelled from China four years later.

In August, 1635, Li, Prefect of Kiang-chou, issued a proclamation which was in reality an apology for the Christian religion, praising Kao (Father Alfonso Vagnoni, b. in the Diocese of Turin, 1566; d. at Kiang-chou, 19 April, 1640). In July, 1641, Tsuo, Sub-prefect of Kien-ning-hien in Fu-kien mentions Aleni as a master eminent among the learned men of the West, and speaks in high terms of the Christian religion. The conquest of China by the Manchus (1644) was a cause of great suffering to the Church. The celebrated Jesuit, Johann Adam Schall von Bell , head of the Board of Mathematics, was thrown into prison, but he soon regained favor under the first Manchu emperor, Shun-che. In 1664, during the minority of K'ang-hi, Yang Kwei-sien, a Mohammedan astronomer, in charge of the Board of Mathematics, accused Schall, then old and paralyzed, of hostility to Chinese traditions, and obtained against him a sentence of death (15 April, 1665), which was not carried out; when K'ang-hi took the power in hand, the errors of Yang were discovered, thanks to the Belgian Father, Ferdinand Verbiest, who was appointed in Yang's place head of the Board of Mathematics. It was Verbiest and not Schall who cast the astronomical instruments of the Peking observatory, some of which date from the Mongol period. The arrival of the priests of the Missions Etrangères of Paris and of the French Jesuits sent by Louis XIV to Peking gave a new emphasis to the Christian missions.

In March, 1692, Ku Pa-tai, President of the Board of Rites and some of his colleagues addressed to the emperor a note to the effect that as the Europeans were not guilty of any breach of the law, it seemed unfair to prohibit their religion; that it would be proper therefore to let churches subsist and to allow persons bearing perfumes and other offerings freedom to enter them. An imperial decree approved of this note, and copies were sent to all the provincial governors. The Jesuits, as astronomers or interpreters, were in high favor at court and the question of rites which was disadvantageous to other missionaries, did not impair their credit during the reign of K'ang-hi. Matters were different under Yung Cheng, son and successor of K'ang-hi, who in 1724 issued an edict exiling to Canton all missionaries except those occupying various offices at Court; in 1736, an edict of K'ien Lung, son and successor of Yung Cheng, prohibited the teaching of Christian doctrine under penalty of death. On 25 June, 1746, a cruel persecution broke out in Fu-kien, during which the vicar Apostolic, Bishop Sanz, and four other Spanish Dominicans, Serrano, Alcobar, Royo, and Diaz were martyred. The Jesuits Attimis and Henriquez were put to death at Su-chou on 12 Sept., 1748. A great change was made in the Christian Church at Peking, the Jesuits being replaced by the Lazarists.

During the Kia K'ing period (1796-1820), persecution was very severe. A decree was issued 4 Sept., 1811, prescribing a search for foreign preachers. There were but seven Europeans residing at Court, Ferreira (Fu Wen-kao); Riberio (Li Hung-chen); Serra (Kao Shéu-kien), all Portuguese Lazarists in charge of the observatory; Nan Mi-te, interpreter of the Privy Council; Cajetan Pires (Pei Ho-yuan), a mathematician, and two other missionaries too old to be sent home. Monsignor Dufresse, Bishop of Tabraca and vicar Apostolic of Sze-ch'wan, was beheaded 14 Sept., 1825; Father Clet, a French Lazarist. was strangled at Wu-ch'ang (Hu-pe), 18 Feb., 1820. On Sept. 11, 1840, Father Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, a Lazarist, was martyred at Wu-ch'ang. Brighter days were looked for after the signing of a treaty at Wham-poa (1844) by the French ambassador, Théodose de Lagrené, expectations which were fulfilled after the Peking convention of 1860.

In an edict of 20 Feb., 1846, Tao-kwang ordered that the establishments belonging formerly to Christians be restored to their owners, and that henceforward officers searching for and arresting harmless Christians should be tried. The edict was not sent to all the governors, and the same year the missionaries, Hue and Gabet, were arrested at Lhassa and the Franciscan Father Navarro in Hu-pe, and all were taken under escort to Canton and Macao ; it was not till the war of 1860 that the churches of Peking were surrendered to Bishop Mouly. The murder of Auguste Chapdelaine (Missions Etrangères de Paris ) at Si-lin-hien, in Kwang-si on 29 Feb., 1856, was the pretext chosen by France to join England in a military action against China. Special privileges were awarded to missions by Art. XIII of the French treaty of T'ien-tsin (1858) and Art. VI of the French Peking Convention (1860). The old churches of the capital were restored to the Lazarists, and passports for inland travel or sojourn issued to twenty-eight missionaries. Korea, already ill-famed on account of the massacre of Monsignor Imbert and Fathers Chastan and Maubant on 21 Sept., 1839, was the scene of a terrible persecution in 1866; Bishop Berneux, with Fathers de Bretenières, Beaulieu, and Dorie (8 March), Pourthié and Petitnicolas (11 March), the coadjutor Bishop Daveluy, and Fathers Aumaætre (30 March) were all decapitated. Of the flourishing establishment of the Missions Etrangères de Paris, there were only Fathers Ridel, later on vicar Apostolic, Féron, and Calais. This led to an intervention of France in Korea which did not, however, achieve any great degree of success. Things were going from bad to worse in China. In Kwang-tung Fathers Verchère (1867), Dejean (1868), Delavay (1868), were persecuted ; in Sze-ch'wan, Fathers Mabileau (29 Aug., 1865) and Rigaud (2 Jan., 1869) were murdered at Yeu-yang-chou, near Kwei-chou, and Fathers Gilles and Lebrun were ill-treated (1869-70); anti-foreign placards were posted up in Hu-nan (1869); the French minister, Count de Rochechouart, was nearly murdered at T'ai-yuan, in the Shan-si province (1869). Finally came the massacre of T'ien-tsin, 21 June, 1870. Fontanier. The French consul, Simon, his chancellor, Thomassin, the interpreter and his wife, the Lazarist father Chevier and the Cantonese priest Hu, Challemaison, a merchant and his wife, ten sisters of St. Vincent of Paul, Bassoff and Protopopoff, Russian merchants, and the wife of the latter--in all twenty-two persons were put to death with great barbarity.

The Franco-Prussian War prevented France from taking any energetic action in China, but a special mission, headed by the High Commissioner, Ch'ung Hou, was sent to Paris to apologize. The lack of retaliation on the part of France encouraged Prince Kung to send the foreign ministers at Peking (1871) a memorandum relating to missions and regulations to be applied to Christian missionaries. This circular note met with a protest, not only from the French Minister Rochechouart (14 Nov. 1871), but also from Mr. Wade, British Minister. The murder of the German missionaries, Nies and Henle (1 Nov., 1897), in the Shang-tung province, led to the occupation of Kiao-chou by the Germans. On 14 Oct., 1898, Chanès was murdered at Pak-tung (Kwang-tung); Victorin Delbrouck, a Belgian, was killed in Hu-pe (11 Dec., 1898); satisfaction was given by the Chinese for these crimes, which had been perpetrated in the face of two imperial decrees that same year, dated 12 July and 6 October. The Boxer rebellion brought sad days for the missions. The list of martyrs is lengthy. The following bishops were put to death : Fatosati of Northern Hu-nan, Grassi and Fogolla of Shan-si, Italian Franciscans ; Guillon, Missions Etrangères of Manchuria, Hamer (Dutch) of Kan-su (burnt to death), and the Franciscans, Ceseda and Joseph (Hu-nan); Facchini, Saccani, Balat, and Egide (Shan-si); Ebert (Hu-pe); the Jesuits, Andlauer, Isoré, Denn, and Mangin (Chi-li); the Lazarists d'Addosio, Garrigues, Doré, Chavanne (Peking); Emonet, Viaud, Agnius, Bayart, Bourgeois, Leray, le Guéval, Georjon, Souvignet, of Manchuria, all of the Missions Etrangères de Paris ; Segers, Heirman, Mallet, Jaspers, Zylmans, Abbeloos, Dobbe, of Mongolia, all of the Congregation of Scheut.

Mention should be made of the fact that in 1895, the French Minister Gérard made an agreement with the Tsung-li Yamen that all passages in the official code disadvantageous to the Christian religion should be erased. The Berthemy Convention, finally settled by M. Gérard (spoken of below), and the reorganization of the protectorates and the hierarchy, treated of hereafter, are the chief events of the last few years.


Father Ricci, the first superior of the Jesuits in China, had remarkable success in his work of evangelizing because of the great tolerance he showed the cult rendered by the Chinese to Heaven, to Confucius, and to ancestors. Indeed, mandarins being obliged to honor officially Heaven and Confucius on certain days, it would have been difficult to convert any of them if they had not been allowed to carry out the functions of their office. Ancestor worship is, practically, the principal religion of China. Ricci's successor, Longobardi, was of a different mind and finally in 1628, when Emmanuel Diaz (Junior) was vice-provincial, a meeting was called to study the question, but no decision was reached. Affairs reached a crisis when the Dominican, Moralez, and the Franciscan, Santa Maria, arrived in China (1633). Excess of zeal, ignorance of local customs, or some such reason was the cause of the expulsion of the Dominicans and Franciscans (1637). In addition to different views about the religion of the Chinese, there was another cause of discord between the Jesuits and the Dominicans. The former were protected by Portugal and their protectors were at Macao. The latter were Spaniards, and they looked for support to Manila. In 1639, Moralez addressed to Diaz Senior, then Visitor of the Jesuit mission, a memorandum in twelve articles regarding Chinese practices. Diaz having delayed his answer, Moralez went to Rome, and on 12 Sept., 1645, obtained from Innocent X a decree condemning the Jesuits. The Jesuits thereupon dispatched to Rome Martin Martini, who after a stormy voyage was carried to the Norwegian coast, and was obliged to cross Holland and Germany to Italy. He succeeded in having a contradictory decree issued by Alexander VII (23 March, 1656). Then followed a new memorandum of Moralez to the Sacred Congregation (1661), and a new decree of Clement IX against the Jesuits (20 Nov., 1669). Moralez died (1664) but his successor as prefect of the Dominicans in China, Domingo Fernandez Navarrette , published his "Tratados historicos"; the Dominicans, however, found an adversary among themselves. The Chinese Dominican, Gregorio Lopez, Bishop of Basilea and vicar Apostolic of Nan-king, sent to the Sacred Congregation a memoir in favour of the Jesuits.

New elements were brought into the discussion when French Jesuits and priests of the Missions Etrangères arrived in China. The publication in Paris, in 1682, of a work entitled "La Morale pratique des Jésuites", a bitter criticism of the Jesuits, acted as a firebrand. Père le Tellier answered with "Défense des Nouveaux Chrétiens" (1687), which was later censured at Rome (23 May, 1694). On 26 March, 1693, Charles Maigrot, of the Missions Etrangères, vicar Apostolic of Fu-kien, and later titular bishop of Conon, issued a mandate condemning the Chinese Rites. Following the example of the Dominicans, the Missions Etrangères sent to Rome Louis de Quemener, who presented the pope with Maigrot's mandate (1696). Nicolas Charmot, Maigrot's envoy, obtained a brief from Innocent XII (15 Jan., 1697) and a decree from the Holy Office (3 July, 1697). The works of Jesuit Father Comte. "Mémoires sur la Chine" and "Lettre ê Mgr le Due du Maine sur les cérémonies de la Chine", added fuel to the flame and were censured by the Faculty of Theology of Paris (18 Oct., 1700), together with the "Hist. de l'edit de l'Empereur de la Chine" by Père Le Gobin, S.J. Finally, the Holy Office published a decree prohibiting the Chinese ceremonies (20 Nov., 1704). This was approved by Clement XI who appointed as legatus a latere Charles Thomas de Tournon, Patriarch of Antioch, to carry the decree to China. Tournon arrived at Canton 8 April and was received at Peking by the Emperor K'ang-hi, who was favorable to the Jesuits (31 Dec., 1705). After various controversies in which Maigrot and the Jesuit Visdelou sided with the legate, K'ang-hi, who found the Jesuits better informed about China than their adversaries, ordered Tournon to leave Peking (28 Aug., 1705) and banished Maigrot (17 Dec., 1705). Tournon issued a mandate at Nan-king (25 Jan., 1707). When he arrived at Macao he was thrown into a prison where he died (8 June 1710) immediately after being named a cardinal. On 19 March, 1715, Clement XI issued the Bull "Ex illâ die". A new legate, Mezzabarba, Patriarch of Alexandria, was sent to China. He arrived at Macao (26 Sept., 1720), went to Peking and was received by the emperor, who refused to accede to his demands. Finally, the whole knotty question was settled (11 July, 1742) by a Bull of Benedict XIV, "Ex quo singulari" condemning the Chinese ceremonies and choosing the expression T'ien-chu which was to be used exclusively to designate God. Missionaries to China had to take an oath not to discuss at any time the terms of the Bull. The bitterness of this celebrated quarrel was greatly increased by various causes: the rivalry of Portugal and France for the protectorate of the missions, the disputes between the Jansenists and the Jesuits, and the Bull "Unigenitus" ; while the final decision was delayed as much by the question of episcopal sees in China as the rites themselves. Rome having spoken, no more can be said here on the question, but it may be noted that the Bull "Ex quo singulari" was a terrible blow to the missions in China ; there are fewer Christians than formerly and none among the higher classes, as were the princes and mandarins of the court of K'ang-hi.


In 1577 Gregory XIII created for China, Japan, and the Far Eastern Islands, the Diocese of Macao, which was divided in 1587 into two diocese, Macao and Funay (Japan). On 9 Sept., 1659, Alexander VII erected from the territory included within the Diocese of Macao , two vicariates Apostolic , one including besides Tong-king the Chinese provinces of Yun-nan, Kwei-chou, Hu-kwang (now Hu-pe and Hu-nan), Sze-ch'wan, Kwang-si, and Laos, the other including, in addition to Cochin-China, the Chinese provinces of Che-kiang, Fu-kien, Kwang-tung, Kiang-si, and the island of Hai-nan. In 1690, Alexander VIII, to satisfy the Portuguese, created the Diocese of Peking, including Chi-li, Shang-tung, Shan-si, Shen-si, Ho-nan, Lao-tung, Korea, and Tatary, and the Diocese of Nan-king, both diocese being under the Archbishop of Goa. By a Bull of 15 Oct, 1696, Innocent XII erected the vicariates Apostolic of Shen-si and Shan-si by taking part of the territory included in the Diocese of Peking (Chi-li, Shang-tung, Lao-tung, Korea, and Tatary), and limited the Diocese of Nan-king to Kiang-nan and Ho-nan. The following vicariates were created out of the Diocese of Nan-king (1696): Hu-kwang, Fu-kien, Che-kiang, Kiang-si, Yun-nan, Sze-ch'wan, Kwai-chou; in 1737, these last two provinces were joined into one vicariate, to which Yu-nan was added in 1781. In 1840, Yun-nan was again detached, and in 1846 Kwei-chou became independent. In 1858 Sze-ch'wan was subdivided into Eastern and Western Sze-ch'wan. In 1860, Eastern Sze-ch'wan, with part of Western Sze-ch'wan, was divided into the vicariates Apostolic of Southern Sze-ch'wan and Eastern Sze-ch'wan. In 1790, Fu-kien, Che-kiang, and Kiang-se were combined into one vicariate, but in 1838 divided into the vicariates of Fu-kien and Che-kiang Kiang-se. In 1883, Amoy was separated from Fu-kien; in 1846 Kiang-se was separated from Che-kiang; in 1879 the vicariates of Northern and Southern Kiang-se were erected; in 1885 the vicariate of Eastern Kiang-se was created. In 1762, Hu-kwang was amalgamated with Shan-si and Shen-si but separated in 1838. Out of Hu-kwang were formed in 1856 the vicariates of Hu-nan and Hu-pe; in 1879 Hu-nan was divided into the vicariates of Northern and Southern Hu-nan; in 1876, Hu-pe was divided into Eastern, Western, and Northern Hu-pe. In 1843 Shen-si and Shan-si were separated; in 1885 Shen-si was divided into two vicariates, and in 1890 Shan-si was divided in a similar manner.

From the Diocese of Peking, Korea was detached in 1831, Liao-tung, Manchuria, etc. in 1838, and Shang-tung in 1839; in 1856 the Diocese of Peking was divided into three vicariates: Northern, South-Western, and South-Eastern Chi-li; from the last-named, eastern Chi-li was separated in 1899. In 1883, Shan-tung was divided into Northern and Southern Shan-tung ; Eastern Shan-tung was detached in 1894. In 1840 the vicariates of Mongolia and Kang-su were separated from Manchuria and later sub-divided; in 1843, Hong-Kong was taken from Macao ; at first a prefecture, it was erected into a vicariate in 1874; the two provinces of Kwang-tung and Kwang-si were detached from Macao in 1856 and formed into a prefecture, but were erected into separate prefectures in 1878. In 1856 Ho-nan was divided from the Diocese of Nan-king, and was erected into a vicariate which was later subdivided.


The Society of Jesus

The Jesuits are the true founders of the missions in China. St. Francis Xavier , after evangelizing India and Japan, died in December, 1552, on the island of Shang-ch'wan (St. John's) before he could reach Macao or Canton. His successors, Alessandro Valignani (d. 20 Jan., 1606), Michele Ruggierei (d. 11 May, 1607), and Francisco Pasio (d. 30 Aug., 1612) did not penetrate beyond these two places and Chao-k'ing in the same province. Matteo Ricci had the honor of being the pioneer missionary at Peking; he was born at Macerata, Italy, 6 Oct., 1552, and arrived at Macao in 1583, meeting there with Ruggieri. From Chou-k'ing Father Ricci went to Nan-ch'ang (1595); he visited Peking twice (1595 and 1598) where he finally settled, leaving Nan-king for the last time 18 May, 1600. He left behind him Lazzaro Cattaneo and Joïo da Rocha, who in 1603 baptized, under the name of Paul, the celebrated Siu kwang-k'i. The latter on going to Peking showed himself a stanch supporter of Ricci, who died 11 May, 1610. Ricci was the first superior of the Peking mission. His two successors, Nicolò Longobardi (1610) and Joïo do Rocha (1622) held the same office; Emmanuel Diaz (Junior) was the first vice-provincial. Ricci, under the Chinese name of Li Ma-teu, wrote many works still appreciated by the Chinese, among them "T'ien-chu Shi-yi" (the true doctrine of God ), published in 1601, translated into Manchu, Korean, Japanese, and French; "Ki-ho Yuan-pun", the first six books of Euclid, etc. The following are the names of some of the best-known members of this mission: Emmanuel Diaz Junior (Yang Ma-no), b. in Portugal, 1574; arrived in China, 1610; d. at Hang-chou, 4 March, 1659; author of "T'ang-king kiao-pei-sung-cheng-ts'iuen", a translation of the celebrated inscription of Si-ngan-fu. Nicolas Trigault (Kiu Ni-ko), b. at Douai, 3 March, 1577; arrived in China, 1610; d. at Hang-chou, 14 Nov., 1628; author of the life of Ricci (De Christianç Expeditione apud Sinas, 1615), a dictionary (Si-ju-eul-mu-tze), and a translation of Æsop's Fables (Hwang-yi). Giulio Aleni (Ngai Ju-lio), b. at Brescia, 1582; arrived in China, 1613; d. at Fu-chou, 3 Aug., 1649; author of no less than twenty-five works in Chinese, including a life of Christ. Johann Adam Schall von Bell (T'ang Jo-wang), b. at Cologne, 1591; arrived in China, 1622; d. at Peking, 15 Aug. 1666; a celebrated mathematician. Luigi Buglio (Li Lei-sse), b. at Minco (Sicily) 26 Jan., 1606; arrived at China, 1637; d. at Peking, 7 Oct., 1682; author of twenty-one works in Chinese, of which a "Missale romanum" (Mi-sa King-tien, 1670), a "Breviarium romanum" (Ji-k'o kai-yao, 1674), a "Manuale ad Sacramenta ministranda" (Sheng-sse-li-tien, 1675), still remain. Gabriel de Magalhaens (Ngan Wen-see), b. at Pedrogïo, 1611; arrived in China, 1640; d. at Peking, 6 May, 1677; author of a good description of China which was translated into English (1688). Martino Martini (Wei Kwang-kwo), b. at Trent, 1614; arrived in China, 1643; d. at Hang-chou, 6 June, 1661; who published in 1655 the first good atlas of China. Ignaco da Costa (Kouo Na-tsio), b. at Fayal, Azores, 1599; arrived in China, 1634; d. at Canton, May, 1666; the translator, with Intorcetta, of the "Lun-yu" and "Ta-hio" of Confucius (1662). Prospero Intocetta (In To-che), b. at Piazza, Sicily, 28 August, 1628; arrived in China, 1659; d. at Hang-chou, 3 Oct. 1696. Phillippe Couplet (pe Ing-li), b. at Mechlin, 31 May 1622; arrived in China, 1659; died at sea, 16 May, 1693; he made known to Europeans the works of Confucius (1672). Albert Dorville and Johann Gtüber, who visited Tibet. Ferdinand Verbiest (Nan Hwai-jen); b. at Pitthem, 9 Oct., 1623; arrived at China, 1659; d. at Peking, 29 Jan., 1688; a great astronomer, who cast some of the instruments of the Peking observatory and guns for the war against the Eleuths. Franïois Noæl (Wei Fang-tsi), b. at Hesdrud (Hainault), 18 Aug., 1651; arrived in China in 1687; d. at Lille, Sept., 1729; astronomer and translator of the Confucian classics. Ignaz Kögler (Tai Tsin-hien), b. at Landsberg, 11 May, 1680; arrived in China, 30 Aug.,1716; d. at Peking, 29 March, 1746. Augustin von Hallerstein, b. at Laibach, 2 Aug., 1703; arrived in China in 1738; d. 29 October, 1774. The last two named were mathematicians.

Most of the Jesuits of this mission were Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Swiss, or Belgian ; but few were French. In 1685, however, Louis XIV, king of France, sent six French Jesuits to the Far East: Guy Tachard remained in Siam, but Jean de Fontaney, Joachim Bouvet , Louis de Comte, Jean-François Gerbillion and Claude de Visdelou, who reached China 23 July, 1687, laid the foundation of the celebrated French Peking mission, which lasted till the suppression of the Society .

Their mission under the protectorate of the French king was distinct from the mission of the other Jesuits, who were known in a general manner as "Portuguese", to distinguish them from their French brethren. the superiors of the French mission were: Jean de Fontaney (1687), Gerbillion (1699), Dentrecolles (1706), Julien-Placide Hervieu (1719), Joseph Labbe (1736), Hervieu, a second time (1740), Valentin Châlier (1745), Jean Sylvain de Neuvialle (1747), Louis-Marie Du Gad (1752), Neuvialle, a second time (1757), Joseph-Louis Le Febrve (1762), John-Baptiste de la Roche (1769), and Franïois Bourgeois.

The following are the names of the most remarkable among the French Jesuits :

  • Jean-Franïois Gerbillion (Chang Ch'eng) , b. at Verdun, 21 Jan., 1654; arrived at China, 1687; died at Peking, 22 March 1707. Having been superior of the house at Peking he was appointed, 3 Nov., 1700, superior of all the French Jesuits in China. He was the interpreter for the treaty signed with Russia at Nerchinsk in 1689, and the author of a Manchu grammar.
  • Claude de Visdelou (Liu-in), b. 12 Aug., 1656, in Brittany; d. at Pondicherry, 11 Nov. 1737. He arrived in China in 1687. He left the Society, was appointed vicar Apostolic of Kwei-chou and Bishop of Claudiopolis (12 Feb., 1707). His very valuable "Historie de la Tartarie" was published as an appendix to B. d'Herbelot's "Bibliothèque orientale" (1780).
  • Joachim Bouvet (Pe-tain), b. at Man, 18 July, 1656; arrived in China, 1687; d. at Peking, 28 June, 1730; a man of great activity.
  • Franïois-Xavier Detrecolles (in Hong-siu), b. at Lyons, 5 Feb. 1663; arrived in China, 1698; d. 2 July, 1741; authors of various papers of scientific value.
  • Joseph-Marie de Prémare (Ma Jo-shi), b. at Hâvre-de-Grâce, 17 July, 1666; arrived in China, 1698; died at Macao, 17 Sept., 1736; author of the well-known "Notitia Linguæ Sinicæ", published at Malacca in 1831 at the expense of Lord Kingsborough.
  • Dominique Parrenin (Pa-To-ming), b. at Russey, 14 Sept., 1665; arrived in China in 1698; d. at Peking, 29 Sept., 1741; a learned and influential man, author of the Chinese lives of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (Tsi-mei-pien) and St. Stanislaus Kostka (Te-hing-p'u).
  • Antoine Gaubil (Sun-kiun-yung), b. at Gaillac, 14 July, 1689; arrived in China in 1722; died at Peking, 24 July, 1759; remarkable as astronomer, historian, and geographer.
  • Pierre d'Incarville (T'ang), b. 21 Aug., 1706; arrived in China, 1740; d. at Peking, 12 May, 1757; well known as a botanist.
  • Jose-Marie-Anne de Moyria de Mailla (Fung Pin-cheng), b. at Moirans (Isère), 16 Dec., 1669; arrived in China, in 1703; died at Peking, 28 June, 1748; translator into French of the huge Chinese historical work "T'ung-kien-kang-mu" (ed. Grossier, 13 vols. 4to, Paris, 1777-1785).
  • Jean-Joseph-Marie Amiot (Tsien Teh-ming), b. at Toulon, 1718; arrived in China in 1750; d. at Peking, 9 Oct., 1793; the most active contributor to the "Mémoires concernant les Chinois" and a regular correspondent of the French Minister Bertin.
Numerous and important works were compiled or written by these hard-working missionaries. Among these are: (1) Maps of China. This labour was undertaken by order of the Emperor K'ang-hi and executed between 1708 and 1718, under the direction of Father Jartoux, by Bouvet, Cardoso, Bonjour (Augustinian), Mailla, Hinderer, de Tartre, and especially Fridelli and Régis. They were the basis of d'Anville's celebrated maps issued between 1729 and 1734. (2) "Déscription geographique de la Chine" by J. B. Du Halde (Paris, 1735), compiled from materials sent by twenty-seven missionaries in China. (3) "Lettres édifiantes et curieuses", a collection of letters from missionaries in all parts of the world, begun in 1702 by Charles Le Gobien , and after his death by Du Halde, Patouillet, and Ambrose Maréchal (34 vols., 1703-76). This work was reprinted in 1780-83 by Yves-Mathurin-Marie de Querbeuf. There have been numerous editions and translations since. (4) "Memoires concernant l'histoire, les sciences . . . des Chinois" (Paris, 1776-1814), containing a mass of information sent mainly by Amiot and Cibot, and edited by Brotier, Bréquigney, and others; the last volume, containing the end of the history of the T'ang dynasty, was edited by Sylvestre de Sacy. (5) Sixteen plates drawn by order of Emperor K'ien-lung to commemorate his conquests in Central Asia. The artists at Peking were Jean-Denis Attiret (d. 8 Dec., 1768), Jean Damascène, Giuseppe Castiglioni, Ignaz Sichelbarth, all Jesuits except Damascène, an Augustinian. The plates were engraved at Paris under the direction of C.N. Cochin. Besides Attiret there was another Jesuit painter at the imperial court, Giuseppe Panzi (b. at Cremons, 2 May, 1734).

The Jesuits had four churches at Peking. The Northern or French church ( Pe-t'ang ), the Southern or Portuguese church ( Nun-t'ang ), the Western church ( Si-t'ang ), and the Eastern church ( Tung-t'ang ), the old house of Adam Schall. The two beautiful cemeteries of the Jesuits outside the walls of Peking, one Portuguese (Sha-la-eul or Téng-kong-che-lan), the other French (Ch'eng-fu-sse), were destroyed by the Boxers in 1900. The Jesuits had residences in the provinces of Chi-li, Shan-si, Shen-si, Shan-tung, Ho-nan, Sze-ch'wan, Hu-kwang, Kiang-si, Kiang-nan, Che-kiang, Fu-kien, Kwang-tung, and Kwang-si. The Jesuits, on their suppression in 1773, were replaced by the Lazarists. The Jesuit Archbishop of Nan-king, Xavier von Laimbeckhoven, an Austrian, died 22 May, 1787, near Su-chou. There were but few fathers at Peking when the news of the suppression of the Society reached the Chinese capital, Sept., 1774. Hallerstein and Benolt died of grief; the last member, Louis de Poirot, died before Oct., 1815.

In 1841, Luigi de Besi, Vicar Apostolic of Shan-tung and Ho-nan, was also placed temporarily in charge of the diocese of Nan-king. The work was too heavy for one man, and Monsignor de Besi wrote to the General of the Jesuits (18 Sept., 1841), asking that some missionaries be sent to help him as soon as possible. The Christians of Kiang-nan had already applied to the general, the Very Rev. Father Roothan (25 April, 1832) to the Queen of Portugal (1838), and to Pope Gregory XVI

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