Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chinese World Map from 1600s show Catholic involvement in Science

Yesterday an exhibit started at the Library of Congress which will showcase a rare World Map, the first in Chinese to show the Americas, which was created by Jesuit Priest Matteo Ricci. Ricci was a missionary in China, but was also heavily involved in science.

Ricci was one of the first Westerners to to master Chinese script and Classical Chinese. Ricci was invited to live in Zhaoqing when the governor there heard of his skills as a mathematician and cartographer. It was here that Ricci prepared several maps in Chinese that contained the Americas. Six survive to this day.

Ricci and his companion not only developed several Chinese maps, but also created the first European-Chinese dictionary, translating Portuguese into Chinese. Ricci's amazing breakthrough into China continued when he was the first Westerner ever to enter into the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Ricci converted many people when they heard about Our Lord. He combined his love of God with a love of science. His beatification is under review.

For more on this story, please visit:

Here's a great video about Ricci:


  1. Probably trying to get some evidence of a flat earth.

    Also, I'm sorry to hear of his crime of spreading Catholicism to China. At least it didn't catch on very strong there.

  2. The Flat Earth theory is a relatively new one that was not believed by scientists or religious people in the past. Some of the most groundbreaking astronomers came from religious orders.

    The only crime committed was against Catholics themselves. Many were killed or crucified by the Emperor. These holy martyrs gave everything for their witness of the faith.