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Matteo Ricci
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Religious Figure
    (October 6, 1552-May 11, 1610)
    Born in Macerata, Italy
    Jesuit priest
    Missionary to India (1578-82) and China (1582-1610)
    Wrote 'The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven,' arguing that Christianity and Confucianism are compatable
    Journals published as 'About the Christian Expeditions to China Undertaken by the Society of Jesus' (1615)
    He joined the Jesuits against his father's wishes.
    He left for India without visiting his family to say goodbye.
    He described Buddhist monks as 'vile and abject.'
    He was accused of altering Christian doctrine to win over Chinese converts.
    He was the first Westerner invited into the Forbidden City by the Emperor.
    He translated Western books on science and mathematics into Chinese and the works of Confucius into Latin.
    His journals were the first in-depth look at China by a man fluent in the language to be published in Europe.
    He dissed feng shui as nonsense on par with astrology: 'What could be more absurd than their imagining that the safety of a family, honors, and their entire existence must depend upon such trifles as a door being opened from one side or another, a window opened here or there, or one roof being higher than another?'
    One biographer wrote, 'Matteo Ricci was the perfect man of culture, a polymath versed in all things, mathematics and literature, philosophy and poetry, mechanics and astronomy.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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