MATTEO RICCI, S.J.(1552–1610), missionary in China. He joined the Jesuits at Rome in 1571, and his training included the study of mathematics and astronomy. He was sent to Goa in 1578 and from there to Macao in 1582, where he began to learn Chinese.

    After a long period of study and experimentation, during which he gradually moved northward, he settled in Beijing in 1601. Here he gained favour at court by displaying European scientific inventions and explaining astronomy, and influence among the scholarly élite by his assimilation of Confucian classics to Christian humanist ethics in a number of apologetic and catechetical works, especially his masterpiece, T’ien̄chu Shih-i (The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, 1595).

Full Christian catechesis was kept for a later stage. Basic to his teaching was the conviction that the supreme deity of the Confucian classics was personal and could be assimilated to Christian theism. His method won converts among the Confucian scholarly class, but was less well adapted to Buddhism, Taoism, or popular Chinese religion. Criticism of his methods by other missionaries and the ensuing conflict was one of the factors in the Rites Controversy that erupted about a century later.

Opere storiche, ed. P. Tacchi Venturi, SJ (2 vols., Macerata, 1911–13). His journals of 1583–1610, ed. P. M. D’Elia, SJ, Fonti ricciane (Reale Accademia d’Italia, 3 vols., 1942–9); Eng. tr. by L. J. Gallagher, SJ (New York, 1953). The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (T’ien-chu Shih-i), ed., with Eng. tr., by E. Malatesta, SJ (St Louis and Taipei, 1985). H. Bernard, SJ, Le Père Matthieu Ricci et la société chinoise de son temps, 1552–1610 (2 vols., Tientsin, 1937). J. Bettray, SVD, Die Akkommodationsmethode des P. Matteo Ricci S.I. in China (Analecta Gregoriana, 76; Rome, 1955). J. D. Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (New York, 1984; London, 1985). V. Cronin, The Wise Man from the West (popular biog.; 1955). E. Ducornet, Matteo Ricci (Paris, 1992). Sommervogel, 6 (1895), cols. 1792–5; Polgár, 3 (1990), pp. 65–78. J. Sebes, SJ, in DHCJ 4 (2001), pp. 3351–3, s.v.


ed. editor or edited.

tr. translation.

Sommervogel Augustin de Backer, SJ, Aloys de Backer, SJ, and A. Carayon, SJ, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, ed. C. Sommervogel, SJ (12 vols., 1890–1932; repr., Louvain, 1960).

Polgár L. Polgár, SJ, Bibliographic sur l’Histoire de la Compagnie de Jésus 1901–1980, 3: Les Personnes (3 vols., Rome, 1990).

DHCJ Diccionario Histórico de la Compañía de Jesús, ed. C. E. O’Neill, SJ, and J. M. Domínguez, SJ (4 vols., Rome and Madrid, 2001).

s.v. sub verbo (Lat., under the word).

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