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  • » 01/02/2015, 00.00


    Macerata and Shanghai exchange bronze busts of Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The bust of the Chinese official, a great scientist and close friend of Ricci, will be unveiled on 24 January. Ricci's bust has already been placed in Xu's garden-mausoleum, a short walk from Shanghai's St Ignatius Cathedral. Many in China and around the world would like to see Ricci and Xu beatified at the same time. However, in Shanghai the Church is facing problems.

    Macerata (AsiaNews) - The Father Matteo Ricci Foundation and the Xuhui Cultural Bureau (Shanghai) have decided to boost their friendship by exchanging the bronze busts of two great personalities from their respective cities: Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary who paved the way for evangelisation in and cultural exchanges with China, and Paul Xu Guangqi, a top bureaucrat (mandarin) at China's Imperial Court in Beijing, as well as a great scientist and a disciple of the Jesuit missionary.

    Xu Guangqi's bust, by artist Yang Dongbai, will be donated to the city of Macerata on 24 January. The location has not yet been decided yet, but many would like to see the bust representing Xu, a patriot, scientist and Catholic, placed in the garden in front of the headquarters of the Father Matteo Ricci Foundation in Macerata, which is also home to a missionary seminary.

    Matteo Ricci's bust, by artist Emanuele Barsanti, was already delivered on 7 November, and will be placed in all likelihood in Xu Guangqi's garden-mausoleum, a few hundred metres from Shanghai's St Ignatius Cathedral (pictured).

    Yang, a well-known Shanghai artist, is expected for the inauguration of Xu's bust in Macerata. Several of his statues already dot the city's landscape, including Xu Guangqi's mausoleum.

    Meanwhile, the beatification cause for the Macerata-born Jesuit missionary is underway. On 14 November, the Diocesan process was completed and papers were delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to help draft the so-called Positio. This should show Matteo Ricci's virtues, values and sanctity, to be examined by Vatican theologians.

    In different parts of the world and in China, various people have begun asking that the beatification of Matteo Ricci take place simultaneously with that of Paul Xu Guangqi.

    Known as "the wise man of the West," Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), in his evangelising zeal helped Westerners know and understand better Chinese society.

    At the same time, he passed on to China knowledge in the astronomical and geographical fields, as well as in mathematics, music, and painting that helped the Middle Empire become better integrated into the modern world.

    His opus - especially his translation of Euclid's elements of geometry - relied on the cooperation of Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), who was later baptised as Paul, who is known in China as a great scientist, an incorruptible man and a patriot.

    Thanks to his knowledge in mathematics and physics, acquired through his friendship with Ricci, Xu helped transform existing methods of farming, irrigation, and construction.

    His service to the city of Shanghai and China went hand in hand with his Christian commitment. Xu is considered the founder of the Christian community in Shanghai.

    In view of this, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shanghai has long expressed a desire to work for his beatification.

    Unfortunately, the death of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian and the house arrest of Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin have set obstacles on the path that would see a Chinese treated as a model for the whole Church.

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    See also

    15/05/2010 CHINA
    Xu-Ricci Institute of Dialogue opens in Shanghai
    Created to encourage dialogue between East and West, the structure - which combines the name of the Jesuit who died 400 years ago with that of his Chinese best friend - seeks to be a bridge between two worlds. Shanghai also launches the largest Sino-French dictionary, the "Grand Ricci".

    26/03/2014 CHINA - VATICAN
    Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi, two saints the Chinese Church deserves to venerate together
    The cause for the beatification of the great Jesuit missionary is underway at the Vatican, but that of his friend is mired in problems involving the Diocese of Shanghai. Yet, beatifying the two together would be a strong gesture for the Chinese Church, Chinese society and the notion of missionary charism itself. Here is an analysis by a French Jesuit.

    19/12/2006 CHINA
    Chinese state TV acknowledges Catholic numbers rising
    According to official figures, China has five million Catholics. Unofficial sources estimate the real figure to be much higher. Mass baptisms involving hundreds are common, especially among the young. Official state agencies are unable to control this renaissance.

    28/12/2009 CHINA
    Shanghai Catholics should walk on the footsteps of Matteo Ricci, Msgr Jin Luxian says
    To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jesuit missionary’s death, Catholics should be inspired by his way of life: faith in God; love for Chinese culture; respect for teachers and friends. Education cannot just be a market-oriented business; faithful should work and study hard, instead of spending time on TV or computer. “Arrogance and prejudice” of Church leaders and Chinese authorities have slowed evangelization in China.

    09/03/2004 CHINA - VATICAN
    A film about Matteo Ricci, bridge-builder between China and the West

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