Chinese Catholics plan 400th anniversary celebrations for Matteo Ricci

  Plans have begun in China and Italy to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci, in 2010. 'First world citizen of the earth,' 'Pioneer of cultural exchange,' 'Chinese among the Chinese,' 'Xi tai ­ teacher of the West,' 'Xi ru ­ wise man from the West,' 'Mandarin,' 'the first man to open cultural relations between Europe and China'...These are just a few of the many titles used to describe the great Jesuit missionary Fr Matteo Ricci. In addition to being a missionary, he was also a humanist, a philosopher, a man of letters, geography, astronomy...not to mention all he left behind. Not only Chinese Catholics, but all Chinese people in general and the Italian people as well have shown a great gratitude and esteem for this man. In honour of the 400th anniversary of his death, which will be celebrated in 2010, China and Italy will join in recalling this great 'son,' with the theme: 'Matteo Ricci, a European in China.' There will be two conferences in 2009: one in May and another in October, in Rome and in Beijing. There will also be various initiatives for discovering the spirit of this great man who won over the simple and the learned of China ­ in short, the entire Chinese world ­ with his preaching of Christianity. Father Matteo Ricci was born in Macerata, Italy, on October 6, 1552. He began his studies in a Jesuit school in 1561. Little by little, his missionary vocation matured. In 1577 he was transferred to Coimbra, Portugal, to prepare for his transfer to Asia. In 1578, he left from Lisbon to travel to Goa, on the coast of India. He was ordained a priest in 1582 and left for Macao in China, where the Jesuits had hoped to evangelize from the moment of their foundation in 1534. In 1589, he was transfered to Shao Zhou, in the Province of Guang Dong. After having worked tirelessly at the Chinese mission and with many failed attempts, Fr. Ricci went to Beijing on January 24, 1601 to visit the Imperial Court of Ming (Emperor Wan Li). He built what is now the Cathedral of Beijing, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. He died in Beijing on May 11, 1610. In honor of this great man who had come from a far away land, Emperor Wan Li personally donated the land for his burial, in central Beijing. Source: Fides

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