The book Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China written by Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia at first seems to be a story about a missionary’s life and achievements. However, as one becomes more acquainted with it, a deeper meaning behind the narrative is revealed. This relates to the uniqueness of Matteo Ricci’s personality, especially in comparison with other religious figures of the time. The title also demonstrates the global scope of his activity, and this impression is complemented by the correspondence included in the book. Therefore, this work is not a mere reflection on Ricci’s deeds but the depiction of how one’s character influences their successes in life.
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In the book, the author highlights the importance of this historical figure for the expansion of Catholic thought in the sixteenth century. This contributes to a description of the Church in the throes of the Counter-Reformation and depicts China in the time of the Ming dynasty (Hsia 102). In this way, a reader’s interest is enhanced not only by the significant role of Matteo Ricci in these processes but also by an insight into this historical epoch. Indeed, it is such a fascinating story of a man who managed to authentically fit into the community while pursuing his goals.
While I was reading about the adventures of Matteo Ricci, two questions kept running through my mind. They were related to the application of this man’s personality traits to modern people and the effects of globalization on missionary work as a whole. The first question is: does one’s character affect the success or failure of religious initiatives in the present-day world? The second question is: how did the perception of such projects’ positive outcomes change over time in the context of globalization? In other words, it is especially interesting to know how global societal processes affect religious endeavors and one’s personality.
Hsia, Ronnie Po-Chia. Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China, 1583–1610. Hackett Publishing Company, 2016.