Global Christianity Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci
(1506 - 1552) and (1552 - 1610)
Global Christianity

Roman Catholic missionaries to India and the Far East.

Matteo Ricci

When the King of Portugal requested that missionaries be sent to colonies in the Orient, Ignatius of Loyola selected Francis Xavier for the job. One of Xavier's early successes was among fishermen and their families along the Coromandel Coast of India. In the midst of a Hindu population, the new Christians were drawn from the lower castes. Working through Tamil interpreters, Xavier taught young people the basics of the Christian faith: Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments. Xavier then sent these young people to teach their elders in the Tamil language. In 1549 Xavier arrived in Japan, and some two years later left behind, in this Buddhist civilization, a few small groups of converts. Xavier tried to reach China, but died just short of this goal. In 1583 the Jesuit Matteo Ricci reached China. Eventually Ricci gained the favor of the emperor through the gift of some clocks. Like Xavier, Ricci sought to communicate the Christian message in a Chinese context. By the time of Ricci's death, the church in China may have had about 2,000 members. In 1614, long after Xavier's death, Christians suffered brutal persecutions in Japan.

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Photo courtesy of the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History.