Matteo Ricci at the Court of the Ming

matteo ricci

Not a remake of a Flash Gordon movie but a reference to Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), a jesuit from Macerata in the Marche who went as a missionary to China and became fluent in the language.

Now 400 years after his death there are a number of exhibtions in his honour. An exhibition at the Vatican until January will also open in Beijing in February, before moving on to Shanghai, Nanjing, Macau, and finally Seoul. This exhibition has been funded by the Marche Region which seems a better use of money than an advert with Dustin Hoffman.
In China Ricci is acknowedged as a great scholar. He compiled the first Chinese-Portuguese dictionary, translated Euclid’s Geometry into Chinese, translated many chinese confucian works into Latin and also created the first map of the world in the chinese language. This map was recently bought for 1 million dollars by the James Ford Bell Trust and is currently on display in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. There is an interesting article on the map in the New York Times

Ricci was held in such esteem in China tha he was the first foreigner to be given a burial spot inside the forbidden city. He was, needless to say, viewed with some suspiction by church authorities who worried about his “going native”.

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