The Three Great Pillars of Chinese Catholicism (聖教三柱石, literally the "Holy Religion's Three Pillar-Stones") refer to the three most famous Chinese converts to Christianity, during the 16th and 17th century Jesuit China missions. The three pillars are:
Their combined efforts helped lead Hangzhou and Shanghai to become centres of missionary activity in late Ming China.These men shared an interest in Western science and mathematics, and it is probable that this was what first attracted them to the Jesuits responsible for their conversion.
This name is derived from a passage in Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians (2:9):
The passage in Chinese is somewhat more obvious:
wherein it calls James, Peter and John the "pillars of the Church". The inevitable connection was then seen between the "pillars" of the early Church and the three men who helped to evangelize Ming China.
Xu Guangqi was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, Catholic convert, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician. He holds the title of Servant of God, and received his beatification in April 2011.He contributed to the translation of the first parts of Euclid's Elements into Chinese. He also worked on the reform of the Chinese calendar, which constituted the first major collaboration between scientists from Europe and from the Far East, though it was completed after his death.
Yang Tingyun was born into a devout Buddhist family. At the age of 35 (1592), after taking the Imperial Examinations he became an Inspector in the imperial ministries. In 1600 he met Matteo Ricci, one of the founding fathers of missionary activity in China, but did not convert or receive Baptism at that time. He worked with Ricci and other Jesuits to publish China's first global atlas, the Zhifang waiji . Later however, in 1611, Yang accompanied a fellow official Li Zhizao back to Hangzhou to arrange for his late father's funeral, and saw that Li had not only thrown out his home's Buddhist statues and imagery, but that he did not send for Buddhist priests to give the man his last rites. Instead, he had brought two Jesuit priests, Lazzaro Cattaneo and Nicolas Trigault, to do the job and a Chinese monk Zhōng Míngrén (鍾鳴仁) to explain the rite's significance to the gathered friends and relatives. One month later, impressed by Li's newfound piety, he abandoned his concubine and was himself baptized, receiving the Christian name "Michael" (Mí'é'ěr 彌額爾).
Of particular significance is Yang Tingyun's willingness to abandon status symbols such as his family's traditional beliefs and the concubine, for these were some of the main obstacles in the way of the Jesuit mission to China. In the same way that he was impressed by Li Zhizao's conversion (see below), many other Chinese were impressed by his and followed his example, starting with the 30 members of his family and then moving on to his friends, in total convincing over 100 people to accept Christ. His other notable contributions to Christianity in China include his funding of the missionaries in Hangzhou, granting them the use of his estate as their base of operations; using his influence and wealth to offer protection and shelter to Christian refugees during periods of anti-Christian unrest; and also the buying up of land at Tianshui Bridge (天水橋) and Dafangjing (大方井) to build the first church in Hangzhou and the Jesuit Cemetery.
When the church had for the most part been completed, Yang became severely ill. Knowing it was his end, Yang Tingyun requested the sacraments from the priest, and in January 1628, at the age of 71, died. Because he had been seen as a great scholar and man of excellent moral fibre, the people of Hangzhou had him honoured in the Xiāngxián Cí (鄕賢祠), a hall for honouring local heroes and ancestors.
Li Zhizao was a successful Hangzhounese official who held various posts around China, the most notable of which were in Nanjing and what is now called Puyang County in Henan Province. He was known by the courtesy names of Wǒcún (我存) and Zhènzhī (振之), as well as by the pseudonym "The Man of Liangyan" (涼庵居士, alternative writings: 涼庵逸民, 涼庵子, or 涼叟). In 1610, while in Beijing, Li became gravely ill and, without any friends or family in Beijing to care for him, was soon on the verge of death. Fortunately, at that point in his life he became acquainted with the Jesuit Matteo Ricci who took him into his care, treated him "as a family member", and soon brought him back to health. Ricci also during this time taught him much of Western science, mathematics, and Catholicism. Shortly thereafter Li Zhizao was baptized and given the Christian name "Leon" (liáng 良).
After converting, Li Zhizao took an oath saying, "As long as I live, all that God has given me, I shall put to good use for Him." While still in Beijing, he presented Matteo Ricci with 100 taels of gold for the purpose of building a church there. Later Li would also be responsible for introducing Catholicism to his hometown of Hangzhou. The year after he returned home for his father's funeral, he brought with him two other Jesuit missionaries.In 1625 he was the first to publish the Chinese text of the Nestorian Stele.
Li Zhizao was responsible for translating many works of Western science and mathematics into Chinese.
Giulio Aleni, in Chinese Ai Rulüe, was an Italian Jesuit missionary and scholar. He was born in Leno near Brescia in Italy, at the time part of the Republic of Venice, and died at Yanping in China. He became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1600 and distinguished himself in his knowledge of mathematics and theology.
Johann Adam Schall von Bell was a German Jesuit and astronomer. He spent most of his life as a missionary in China and became an adviser to the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing dynasty.
Xu Guangqi or Hsü Kuang-ch'i, also known by his baptismal name Paul, was a Chinese agronomist, astronomer, mathematician, politician, and writer during the Ming dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and assisted their translation of several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of Euclid's Elements. He was also the author of the Nong Zheng Quan Shu, a treatise on agriculture. He was one of the "Three Pillars of Chinese Catholicism". His current title is Servant of God. On April 15, 2011, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced the beatification of Xu Guangqi.
Yang Hui, courtesy name Qianguang (謙光), was a Chinese mathematician and writer during the Song dynasty. Originally, from Qiantang, Yang worked on magic squares, magic circles and the binomial theorem, and is best known for his contribution of presenting Yang Hui's Triangle. This triangle was the same as Pascal's Triangle, discovered by Yang's predecessor Jia Xian. Yang was also a contemporary to the other famous mathematician Qin Jiushao.
João Rodrigues, distinguished as Tçuzu and also known by other names in China and Korea, was a Portuguese sailor, warrior, and Jesuit interpreter, missionary, priest, and scholar in Japan and China. He is now best known for his linguistic works on the Japanese language, including The Art of the Japanese Language. He was also long erroneously supposed to have been the main compiler of the first Japanese–Portuguese dictionary, published in 1603.
Matteo Ricci, was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. His 1602 map of the world in Chinese characters introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia. He is considered a Servant of God by the Roman Catholic Church.
Nicolas Trigault (1577–1628) was a Jesuit, and a missionary in China. He was also known by his latinised name Nicolaus Trigautius or Trigaultius, and his Chinese name Jin Nige.
Li Bian, known as Xu Gao between 937 and 939 and Xu Zhigao before 937, and possibly Li Pengnu during his childhood, also known posthumously by his temple name Liezu, was the founder and first emperor of the Southern Tang. In traditional histories, he is also often referred to as the First Lord of Southern Tang (南唐先主). He was an adopted son and successor of the Wu regent Xu Wen who usurped power from the Wu emperor Yang Pu.
Johann(es) Schreck, also Terrenz or Terrentius Constantiensis, Deng Yuhan Hanpo 鄧玉函, Deng Zhen Lohan, was a German Jesuit, missionary to China and polymath. He is credited with the development of scientific-technical terminology in Chinese.
Sabatino de Ursis was an Italian Jesuit who was active in 17th-century China, during the Jesuit China missions.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic cathedral, located at 415 Zhongshan Road North (中山北路415号) not far from Wulin Square (武林广场) in downtown Hangzhou, China. Since it is the only Catholic church currently in service within the city of Hangzhou itself, it is also known simply as Tiānzhǔ Táng (天主堂) or "the Catholic church".
Diego de Pantoja or Diego Pantoja was a Spanish Jesuit and missionary to China who is best known for having accompanied Matteo Ricci in Beijing. His name also appears in some sources as Didaco Pantoia.
Li Yingshi was a Ming Chinese military officer and a renowned mathematician, astrologer and feng shui expert, who was among the first of the Chinese literati to become Christian. Converted to Catholicism by Matteo Ricci and Diego de Pantoja, the first two Jesuits to establish themselves in Beijing, he became a zealous Christian, and was instrumental in the advancement of Catholicism in China.
St. Paul's College of Macau also known as College of Madre de Deus was a university founded in 1594 in Macau by Jesuits at the service of the Portuguese under the Padroado treaty. It claims the title of the first Western university in East Asia.
The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts and other work of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, between the 16th and 17th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of knowledge, science, and culture between China and the West, and influenced Christian culture in Chinese society today.
The Zhifang Waiji was an atlas written by various Italian Jesuits in China in the early seventeenth century. The name literally refers to lands beyond the purview of the Zhifang Si, the Imperial cartography office. It was the first detailed atlas of global geography available in Chinese.
Jiang Xu, courtesy name Boyi, was a military general who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He is best known for his involvement in the conflict between the warlord Ma Chao and the Han central government in the 210s CE.
Sun Yuanhua, also known as Ignatius Sun, was a Chinese mandarin under the late Ming. A Catholic convert, he was a protégé of Paul Xu. Like his mentor, he advocated repelling the Manchu invasion by modernizing Chinese weaponry and wrote treatises on geometry and military science influenced by the Jesuits' European knowledge. From 1630 to 1632, he served as governor of Denglai, a Ming district around Dengzhou and Laizhou in northern Shandong. He was deposed by the mutiny of Kong Youde and Geng Zhongming, after which he was arrested and executed by the Ming for having failed to crush their rebellion with sufficient severity.
Events from the year 1664 in China. Also known as 癸卯年 4360 or 4300 to 甲辰年 4361 or 4301.