The Italian priest Matteo Ricci SJ arrived in China in 1582. Matteo realised that there was much goodness in the Confucian wisdom and tradition which was prevalent in China at that time. Recognising that Confucianism could be used as a starting point for preaching the gospel, Matteo studied the Confusian texts to such a degree that the Confucian teachers or Mandolins began to call him “The Wise Man from the West”.
A prolific writer, he employed the power of the pen to touch the hearts and minds of the Chinese intelligentia. His reputation for brilliant scholarship brought him all the way to the court of the Emperor. Matteo Ricci is held up as an example of somebody who lived the Ignatian wisdom of “going in through somebody else’s door in order to take them out your own”.
2010 was the 400th anniversary of the death of Matteo Ricci. In this screencast, Antoni Üçerler SJ, who teaches Japanese history at Oxford, reprises his lecture for the Ricci conference organised by the Irish Jesuit Province in Gonzaga College. Fr Üçerler explains the great significance of Ricci, particularly on account of the depth of his ‘inculturation’, hundreds of years before that word had general currency.