Journey to the Ends of the World: Michele Ruggieri and Jesuits in China Exhibition opens on Wednesday


    Jointly organised by the Macao Museum, under the direction of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government, and the National Archives of Rome, the exhibition Journey to the Ends of the World: Michele Ruggieri and Jesuits in China opened in the Museum’s lobby at 5:00pm on Wednesday 28th November. The exhibition - a project enlisted in the China-European Union Year of Intercultural Dialogue is organised by the Ministry of Culture. The exhibition is open to the public from 29th November 2012 to 3rd March 2013.

    Present at the opening ceremony were the Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao S.A.R., Mr. Liu Xiaohang, representing the Director of the Liaison Office; the Bishop of the Macao Diocese, Dom José Lai Hung-seng,; the Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong, Ms. Alessandra Schiavo; the President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government, Mr. Ung Vai Meng; the Superior of the Society of Jesus in Macau, Fr. Beda Liu; the President of the Macao Holy House of Mercy, Mr. António José de Freitas; and the Director of the State Archive of Rome, Prof. Eugenio Lo Sardo.

    The core of the exhibition Journey to the Ends of the World: Michele Ruggieri and Jesuits in China is the manuscript of The Maps of China drawn by Ruggieri and maps drawn by other Jesuits that stored in the National Archives of Rome. Through the life story of Michele Ruggieri, it introduces the history of Jesuits as they carried out Sino-European cultural exchange via Macao and their contribution in the area of geography.

    Michele Ruggieri was the first missionary of the Society of Jesus to enter Mainland China in the Ming Dynasty; he was also one of the earliest European sinologists to study Chinese. Born in Italy in 1543, Ruggieri went on to join the Society of Jesus. In Lisbon, he received the missionary order to preach in Asia, which led him to Goa, in India and then Macao. Upon the request of Alessandro Valignano, the Visitor of missions, Ruggieri studied Chinese. In 1583, he was the first European missionary permitted to enter and stay in Mainland China, visiting cities such as Guangzhou, Zhaoqing and Zhejiang.

    While in Mainland China, Ruggieri wrote The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shengjiao Shilu) in Chinese and compiled the first Portuguese-Chinese Dictionary with Matteo Ricci, initiating the cultural exchange between China and Europe. Later on, Ruggieri returned to Europe where he continued to study the Chinese culture and introduced it to the West by translating part of The Great Learning of the ‘Four Books’ into Latin, and drew maps detailing the various provinces of China.

    The exhibition is divided into eight parts which showcase over a hundred collection pieces, beside the maps of China drawn by Ruggieri. In addition, other exhibits include maps of China drawn by other Jesuits loaned from the National Archives of Rome, The book of The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, pictures depicting astronomical instruments drawn by the Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest, Saint Francis Xavier relics loaned by the Society of Jesus in Portugal and a reproduction of the Guang Yu Tu (Enlarged Terrestrial Atlas) drawn during the Wanli Period of the Ming Dynasty, which is kept in the Shanghai Library. Other exhibits are from the Biblioteca Alessandrina di Roma, the the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma, the Biblioteca Angelicum di Roma, the Archivio di Stato di Napoli, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Society of Jesus of Macao, the Diocese of Macao, the Museum of the Holy House of Mercy, the Macao Central Library, the Historical Archives of Macao and the Macao Museum, collecting all to become a special exhibition of Sino-European cultural exchange exhibition from the early period.

    Multimedia presentations and an educational area have been arranged to help the public better understand the introduction of Chinese culture to the West and the cultural exchange between China and Europe.

    A seminar was given by the Curator of the National Archives of Rome on 25th November. During the exhibition period, guided tour services are available and organisations and schools are welcome to register.

    For enquiries, please call 28357911 or visit the Macao Museum website

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