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The Biography of St. Augustine in the Catholic Encounter with China.

THE CATHOLIC MISSIONARY history in China was generally divided into three time periods. The first presence of Christianity in China was attested by an inscription discovered in Chang'an (modern Xi'an) during the early seventh century in the Tang dynasty. (1) The second introduction in China occurred in the Yuan dynasty (1277-1368), headed by two Franciscan friars, Giovanni dal Piano del Carpini (1182-1252) and Willem van Rubroek (1253-1255). (2) The third missionary work occurred in the Ming dynasty, initiated by two Italian Jesuits, Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607) and Matteo Ricci (1552-1610). (3) However, the work of the first two periods virtually disappeared from China very quickly, which left the final period as an effective work in which Roman Catholicism gained a footing in late imperial China. The underlying reason, some scholars argue, is attributed to the efforts of some early Spanish Augustinians. I will examine this opinion first.

I. The Early Record of the Spanish Augustinians in China

Claudia von Collani and Nicholas Standaert maintain that Spanish Augustinians contributed to the earliest Catholic missionary work and the propagation of Augustinian theology in Ming China. In their compiled work, Handbook of Christianity in China, Collani and Standaert point out that the first Augustinian to enter China was a Spanish missionary named Martin de Rada (1533-1578), who governed the Philippines as an ambassador to the Wanli [phrase omitted] [phrase omitted] emperor in 1575. (4) Following de Rada, some other Spanish Augustinians continued Catholic missionary work and settled in Zhaoqing [phrase omitted] (in Guangdong province), although the total number of missionaries remained small (about thirty up to the end of nineteenth century). (5) Two of these missionaries, Alvaro de Benavente (1647-1709) and his companion Juan Nicolas de Rivera (1642-1711), were adherents to a policy that allowed various cultural accommodations in Augustine's teachings for Chinese Christians. The areas where they were most active were Zhaoqing, Nanxiong [phrase omitted], and some other districts in the Guangdong province. However, the situation changed after the Kangxi [phrase omitted] emperor's demand of the piao [phrase omitted] (a license) in 1709. (6) Augustinians were no longer allowed to stay in China if they did not possess a piao. The majority of Augustinians either left voluntarily or were expelled from China and some of them had to reside in Macao. (7)

While Spanish Augustinians were major theologians in the early Catholic mission to China, Collani and Standaert add that there were still a few missionaries from other countries, such as Francisco de la Purificacao, the bishop of Beijing, who was Portuguese. In addition, among the missionaries sent by Propaganda Fide there were six Augustinians, five Italian and one French, assisting the emperor with daily palace work. (8) On the basis of this survey, Collani and Standaert argue that the early pioneers mainly consisted of Spanish Augustinians who promoted the knowledge of Augustine in their Catholic missionary work.

In line with Collani and Standaert, other researchers refer to additional sources to demonstrate that early Spanish Augustinians were major contributors to the introduction of Augustinian theology into a Chinese context. For example, Isacio Rodriguez, Juan Ruiz de Medina, Ignazio Barbagallo, and Manuel Merino emphasize the significance of Spanish Augustinians by highlighting the historical connections between the works of Augustine and Catholic evangelization in China. (9) Against this picture, I will list some newly discovered materials of Augustine that were not available to the above commentators. In addressing these materials, let us be alert to the strategy used for introducing the biography of Augustine by Catholic missionaries.

II. Newly Discovered Materials in Relation to Italian Jesuits

Unlike the earliest Spanish Augustinians in China, the Italian Jesuits Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci acquired their reputations through their efforts to introduce Augustinian theology into Ming China by composing a series of theological works in Chinese during the late sixteenth century. (10) In 1582, they gained a foothold in Zhaoqing. During this period, Ruggieri wrote his first Chineselanguage work, Tianzhu shengjiao shilu (<<[phrase omitted]>>(A Veritable Record of the Lord of Heaven), at Guangzhou. In this theological work (dated in the year 1584), one paragraph relating a tale of "an ancient Saint" has been recently discovered. Ruggieri formulated the story in the classical Chinese manner, as follows:
I heard of an ancient Saint. He hoped to explore the mystery of the
Lord, pondering by night and by day. One day, he walked along the
seashore and met a little child running with a hopper. He asked, "Where
are you going?" The child answered, "I am emptying the sea into this
hopper." He smiled, "Trying to fill the pit with all the water in the
sea--it is impossible to do that!" The child responded, "You know that
it would not be possible to empty the sea into this hopper, so why do
you attempt to fit the mystery of the Lord into your mortal mind? Isn't
that absurd?" The child then vanished, leaving the Saint astonished. He
thus knew that the child was an angel. (11)

This paragraph would probably be the earliest record of the anecdote about Augustine in China, although the name, "St. Augustine," was not mentioned by Ruggieri. This tale, Ruggieri revealed, was originally from Jacobus de Voragine's compilation in Latin, the Legenda aurea or Legenda sanctorum (adapted by William Caxton, c. 1422-1491), which was widely read in the late medieval age. (12) However, Ruggieri's companion, Ricci, refers to this "ancient Saint" as "Augustinus"([phrase omitted]), (13) using a similar formulation in his Chinese work Tianzhu shiyi (<<[phrase omitted]>>) Latin title: Dei Vera Ration in 1603. The overlap of these two versions of the story shows that Ricci participated in Ruggieri's project and that Ricci was familiar with the text of the Tianzhu shengjiao shilu relating to Augustine. (14) Through the endeavors of these two pioneers, the legend of Augustine was spread widely throughout the Catholic churches in southern China. (15)

Another fascinating and renowned anecdote in circulation was "Augustine's conversion in the garden at Milan," which is credited to Alphonse Vagnoni (1566-1640) and Giulio Aleni (1582-1649). They cited the case of Augustine's conversion in order to persuade Chinese congregations. However, their focuses differ. In Vagnoni's view, Augustine's conversion was the result of reading the Pauline writings, whereas for Aleni, Ambrose played a crucial role in Augustine's spiritual experiences, as the following excerpts show:

(a) In the Southwest, there was a saint named Augustine, who indulged in heretical theories during his early years, but he did not feel satisfied. He attempted to pursue the truth, but could not find the right way. One day, in reading some of the works written by Paul and the Apostles, he was suddenly enlightened and soon converted from heretical teachings to the divine knowledge. (16) (Child Education by Alphonse Vagnoni)

(b) The ancient Augustine, clever and brilliant, to begin with was drawn to heresies. He went to Milan and gained a little fame there. The bishop Ambrose enlightened him... At age 33, Augustine became conscious of the empty nature of the world and thereafter converted to the monastic life. (17) (Diary of Oral Admonitions by Giulio Aleni)

Excerpt (a) is taken from Vagnoni's Chinese-language work<<[phrase omitted]>> (Latin title: De Liberorum Educatione), which was published at Guangzhou in 1620. The text emphasized the pivotal role of Paul and the apostles in Augustine's conversion, (18) whereas in Aleni's account, excerpt (b), the conversion relied on Ambrose's guidance. These two accounts, emphasizing different resources with different ways of thinking for Augustine, sketched a general outline of his miraculous experience in the Milan garden, thus offering a good example for Chinese Christians. The two narrations were soon collected by the Italian Jesuit Jerome de Gravina [phrase omitted] (1603-1662) in volume four of his Chinese writings <<[phrase omitted]>> (Latin title: Considerationes de diversis fidei mysteriis) in the summer of 1659. (19)

The above two anecdotes, "Augustine at the Seashore" and "Augustine's conversion in the Milan garden" contributed to the first introduction of Augustine into China according to the account of early Catholic missionaries. The translations of these works and the terminology they used were adapted to Chinese domestic religious backgrounds, as in the case of Ruggieri and Ricci. (20) However, their translations are somewhat fragmentary. There were no documents offering a coherent biography of Augustine until the publication of some selective Chinese translations of the Legenda aurea at Jiangzhou [phrase omitted] in 1629. (21) Now, I will look more closely at some Catholic translations of Augustine's biography during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

III. The Catholic Translation of Augustine's Biography in Ming and Qing China

The first Chinese translation was completed by Vagnoni and entitled <<[phrase omitted]>> (Latin: Vita Sanctorum). A condensed version in seven volumes, his work was printed in the second year of the Chongzhen [phrase omitted] emperor (1629) at Chaoxing tang. (22) Vagnoni introduced seventy-two Catholic saints (such as the apostles, Jerome, Ambrose, Benedict, and Anthony, among others), with Augustine included in the second volume titled <<[phrase omitted]>> (The Life of Augustine). This biography contains around 2,000 Chinese characters. (23) For Vagnoni, his reference to the Confessions was adapted from the second-hand account, Legenda aurea, rather than from a reading of Augustine's Latin works. This is evident in some errors in Vagnoni's paraphrases:

(i) St. Augustine, a Libyan. His father is named Patricius and his mother is Monica, who were all from aristocracy and had only a son. His father [Patricius] indulged in heresies, while mother [Monica] had early been in the right way [Catholicism], assisting husband and bringing up son with a good reputation. (24)

(ii) On the morning of the second day, along with some friends and his son, Augustine accepted the grace of the divine water, the year when he was thirty-three. (25)

In excerpt (i), Vagnoni states inaccurately that Augustine was the only son of his family. Actually, Augustine had a brother called "Navigius" as well as a sister, "Perpetua." (26) Excerpt (ii) states that he was baptized on the second day after his conversion in the garden at Milan. Augustine's baptism (together with Adeodatus and Alypius) was actually on the night of April 24-25 (Easter eve), 387, at the hands of Ambrose, rather than on the second day after the conversion (end of August, 386). (27) These minor inaccuracies can be easily detected. However, these formulations were actually not Vagnoni's main focus; instead, his position rested on trying to accommodate domestic Chinese custom, such that there is no mention by him of Augustine's early sexual adventures with concubines. His adaptation is in line with the Confucian concepts of "virtues" and "saints," demonstrating a good use of the strategy of accommodation. Moreover, a deeper reason for Vagnoni's adaptations is a missionary purpose of converting the Chinese population to the Catholic faith. This can be detected by some expressions such as "demons and heresies" that Vagnoni employed to refer to pagans and their beliefs. Therefore, this strategy of accommodation, together with a missionary motivation in Vagnoni's translation, promoted the circulation of Augustine's biography around Southern China in Late Ming society.

However, during the Kangxi emperor period (1662-1722), the Catholic mission experienced a well-known setback: the Chinese Rites Controversy. Catholicism had flourished for a time under the early reign of Kangxi, who issued an edict permitting Jesuit evangelization in China in 1692. However, in Rome, the Dominicans and Franciscans criticized Ricci's policy of accommodation and complained to Pope Clement XI that the Jesuits were tolerating idolatrous Chinese Confucian rituals. A papal legate was sent to China to explain the decree that Clement had promulgated. This event had disastrous results. The Kangxi emperor was furious over this religious intervention and proclaimed new rules in 1705 prohibiting Catholic missionaries, unless they declared they would adhere to "the methods of Matteo Ricci." (28) This edict influenced the religious policies of later Chinese emperors on the Roman Catholic Church. (29)

After the Qianlong [phrase omitted] emperor period (1711-1799), Great Britain was emerging as one of the most influential powers in Chinese diplomatic affairs. New introductions and translations appeared during this period, including a version by William Muirhead (1822-1900). In 1884, Muirhead translated the ten chapters of Augustine's Confessions and published them with a Chinese title "gu sheng ren zui" (<<[phrase omitted]>>) Confessions of the Ancient Saint at Shanghai. (30) This is regarded as the first Chinese translation of Augustine's Confessions, although it is an abridged version with only 12,000 characters. An obvious feature of this edition is that Muirhead adopted the Chinese calendar and Confucian expressions in addressing Augustine, as stated in his prologue:
I address an ancient Western saint named Augustine, who was born in the
twelfth year of the Dongjin Mu emperor[[phrase omitted]], and was
prominent as the most brilliant saint among the Fathers in Algeria.
While reading the classics during his youth, he indulged in lusts and
passions. When an adult, he was touched by the Holy Spirit and received
instruction from a tutor. Thus he repented and converted himself to the
divine Tao... In the tenth year of the Wen Emperor [[phrase omitted]],
rebellions arose in the Empire. He was exhausted by his ministries and
passed away at age seventy-six... I have translated his book
Confessiones, since the author [Augustine] held himself upright within
and elegantly without. (31)

The strategy of accommodating Confucian terms, in Muirhead's translations, is even more obvious. It offered a useful model for his London Missionary Society companions such as Joseph Edkins (1823-1905), Alexander Williamson (1829-1890), and others such as Donald MacGillivray (1852-1931) and the American Methodist Young John Allen (1836-1907). They established the "Christian Literature Society in China" ("Guang xuehui" [phrase omitted]) at Shanghai, (32) which served as a significant platform for translating Augustine's writings and the relevant evangelical work in the Late Qing period.

Allen published a series of articles relating to Augustine in the Journal of Chinese and Western Churches from December 1893 to June 1896. He also acted as the editor of The Review of the Times (a political and religious monthly magazine) and was able to access a number of Chinese religious studies. On the basis of these scattered articles in the Journal of Chinese and Western Churches and The Review of the Times, Allen published a compilation entitled Augustine at the end of 1895. This abridged version was collected in the series of<<[phrase omitted]>> (Conversions), which told how some pagans had converted from other religions to the Trinitarian faith. The book Augustine, translated and edited by Allen (approximately 25,000 characters), is referred to as the longest Chinese translation of Augustine during the Qing dynasty. (33)

An obvious feature is that Allen did not follow strict translation rules in his adaptation of Augustine's Confessiones. For instance, he divided his book into thirteen chapters in line with the Confessiones, but he abbreviates Augustine's biography to ten chapters, and addresses Augustine's theological disputes with the Manicheans and other idolatrous religions in chapters 11 and 12, leaving chapter 13 as a summary of Augustine's writings from his later years such as Confessiones, De Trinitate, and De civitate Dei among others.

Another feature of Allen's translation is that he attempted to deal with the concept of gods in pagan worship and Christian belief. (34) He adapted the case of Augustine to the Chinese religious context to persuade some Buddhist believers (Allen refers to them as idolaters) to convert to Christianity. Allen's translation incorporates contextualized theology to interpret, for example, the Roman Empire as having serious problems in its preoccupations with idolatrous "Buddhism." (35) This is a vivid case, illustrating Allen's strategy to accommodate the text to a Chinese religious context. (36)

IV. The Role of St. Augustine in the Catholic Mission to China and Its Impact for Today's Sino-Catholic Relations

Augustine played a significant and fascinating role in the early Catholic missions to convert the Chinese to Christianity, as was evident in the case of Ruggieri and Ricci as well as the followers of accommodation policy during the Ming and Qing dynasty. Ricci's and Ruggieri's use of Augustine as a Catholic conduit to conversion and catechesis is not only because he was one of the most excellent theologians and Latinists in Christianity and one of the most influential figures in the history of Catholic Church, (37) but also because of Augustine's own powerful conversion experience, which provided a model for how to examine heresies and paganism, something Chinese converts would also experience directly. Thus, his experience is of particular importance for Catholic missionary work in China, most especially in the following three areas.

(1) For Chinese literati and the Confucian-Catholic dialogue. As stated previously, the first Chinese Catholic biography of Augustine was completed by Alphonse Vagnoni at Jiangzhou in 1629. Vagnoni's volume <<[phrase omitted]>> (Vita Sanctorum) was soon paraphrased by a Christian and Confucian, Li Jiugong [phrase omitted], in his book entitled Reflection of Spiritual Exercise <<([phrase omitted]>>). Vagnoni's translations, through Li Jiugong's paraphrases, were spread widely in the Zhejiang and Fujian areas.38 The biography of Augustine offered a general Catholic knowledge for the Confucian literati, who attempted to establish a dialogue between Augustinian theology and Chinese traditional religions. This approach displays a deep learning from other scriptural traditions, reflecting the role of Augustine for Chinese literati as well as their attempts at interreligious dialogue.

(2) For Chinese Christians and the Catholic missionary work. Vagnoni's Chinese biography of Augustine had a wide distribution along Hangzhou district. One Jesuit follower, Zhang Xingyao [phrase omitted] (1633-c. 1715), read Vagnoni's work Vita Sanctorum carefully. Influenced by Church Fathers such as Ignatius and Augustine, Zhang Xingyao was baptized in 1678 (at age 46) by Prospero Intorcetta (1625-1696). (39) Impressed by Augustine's conversion, Zhang Xingyao wrote a poem entitled Song for Saint Augustine:
A saint in Libya, good at the art of rhetoric;
  He travelled in Rome in early years, pursuing lofty ideals.
Moaning and groaning, he endeavored for peace of mind;
  A divine voice coming from Heaven, the Holy Bible being by his side.
Controlling passions, he attempted to renew secular desires and
cultivate virtues;
  Helping out the poor, he was generous without sparing any effort.
Prolific in apologetic writings, the Tao reveals itself;
  After serving as the bishop for thirty years, he enjoyed eternal
  freedom in Heaven. (40)

The poem was included in the collection <<[phrase omitted]>> (Inscriptions Eulogizing the Sage Teaching) and hung in the Hangzhou Catholic church. (41) The poem, together with the biographies of Augustine, convinced many Confucian literati that their belief was in harmony with Christianity and "incomplete" Confucianism would be more complete if complemented by Catholic teaching. Zhang Xingyao later included this idea in his book <<[phrase omitted]>> (Similarities and Differences between the Teaching of the Lord of Heaven and of the Confucian Literati). (42) Influenced by these poems and works, the number of Chinese Christians saw a sharp increase from the year 1627 to 1637. (43) Thus, Augustine's example occupied a considerable weight in converting Confucians to Christianity in Catholic missionary work.

And finally, (3) For accommodation policy. Before his conversion in Milan, Augustine was influenced by various religious traditions, and Manicheanism became one of the main sources in shaping his worldview. However, Augustine's conversion experience offered a possible approach for pagan believers. He was thus employed as a good example for Jesuits to persuade Chinese in abandoning idol worship, as can be seen in Ricci, who attacked Buddhism in True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (44) and Allen, who depicted the Roman Empire as having been preoccupied with "Buddhism." Thus, Augustine is portrayed as a model for Chinese collaborators and converts.

It is noteworthy that the accommodation strategy in the early translation of the biography of Augustine by Jesuits offered an unexpected legacy to contemporary Chinese Christians as well as the Sino-Catholic/Vatican relations. As we know, after the establishment of the new China (1949), Chinese Catholics were cut off from the Vatican. Catholicism in China was divided into the unofficial Catholic Church (or underground Catholic Church) and the Patriotic Catholic Church. With official ties broken, all Catholic bishops would be assigned by the Chinese government and those nominated by Rome were refused. Frozen in stalemate, Augustine was considered a fitting bridge amid contemporary Sino-Vatican tensions.

On the one hand, the Chinese government (through the China Scholarship Council) provided particular funds every year for supporting Chinese students and researchers to conduct Augustinian studies and the study of the Jesuit China mission in European and American universities, as an additional impetus to European Sinology.

On the other hand, Augustine and Catholic studies have emerged as specific research fields at Chinese universities. In a recent forum entitled "Various Traditions of Medieval Philosophy" at Peking University (June 2-4, 2018), Augustinian studies or Augustine-related subjects occupied approximately one quarter of the papers. Augustine's share climbed even higher in the preparations for the twenty-fourth World Congress of Philosophy (August 13-20, 2018) by the panel of the Chinese Committee for Medieval Philosophy. (45) Based on these two guiding conferences, the first "Chinese Committee for Medieval Philosophy" ([phrase omitted]) was established recently, which shows that Augustine and medieval studies have become independent research disciplines in China. It is promising to foresee an emerging "Chinese Augustinian school" as an independent voice contributing to international Augustinian studies in the near future. (46) St. Augustine has been invoked as a symbol in promoting amicable ties between Roman Catholicism and China.

V. Conclusion

While Spanish Augustinians emerged as one of the earliest missionaries in China, there is more evidence demonstrating that the anecdotes of Augustine were originally introduced by the early Italian Jesuits such as Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci during the Ming dynasty. Augustine played a significant and fascinating role in their missions to convert the Chinese to Christianity, in which two stories, the tale of Augustine at the seashore and the anecdote of his conversion in Milan, contributed to the first introduction of Augustine into China. Afterwards, Alphonse Vagnoni's introduction of Augustine's biography in his Chinese compilation Vita Sanctorum continued the accommodation strategy and had a profound influence upon a number of Confucian literati. Influenced by the biography of St. Augustine, there was a gradual growth in the number of Catholics until Roman Catholic missionaries (who abandoned Ricci's accommodation policy) experienced setbacks during the reign of the Kangxi emperor.

Augustine was selected as a spokesman by the early Catholic missionaries in China not only because he is one of the most influential Church Fathers in the Catholic tradition, but also because his conversion would have a positive influence upon Chinese Christians and any possible Confucian-Catholic dialogue. Therefore, Augustine, as a potential soft power, had a profound influence upon Chinese Catholics, literati, and society in the engagement between Roman Catholicism and China. However, along with the setbacks of Catholic mission work in China, especially the separation of the unofficial Catholic Church and the Patriotic Catholic Church after the Communist takeover in 1949, the Sino-Catholic/Vatican relation met some challenges. The role of Augustine, in this new situation, is not confined to a traditional purpose of missionary work, but opens up a broader view of the dialogue with other faiths, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism in the Chinese context. Such a dialogue between faiths bears fruit on the basis of equality, acting as an effective approach in line with the spirit of cultural accommodation in the Sino-Western encounter. In this context, Augustine has been considered a symbol of the best not only in the Catholic encounter with China, but also as a potential bridge in promoting the Sino-Vatican ties.

To summarize, the accommodation strategy performed a crucial role in the translation of Augustine's biography by Jesuit missionaries, and in fact, became necessary, for dealing with conflicts of faith in the Sino-Western encounter.


The editors would like to thank Dr. Juan Li of the University of St. Thomas for her help in preparing this article for publication.

(1.) The Catholic community in this time period refers to Nestorianism. The first introduction of Christianity in China started in the year 635 when a Christian monk Aluoben arrived at Chang'an. The details were described in the stele titled Da Qin jingjiao liuxing Zhongguo bei ("Stele on the propagation of the Luminous Religion of Da Qin in China"/[phrase omitted]). This stele was composed by a monk Jiangjing Jingjing [phrase omitted] (Adam in Syriac) in 781. See Paul Pelliot, L'inscription nestorienne de Si-ngan-fou, ed. Antonino Forte (Kyoto: Scuola di Studi sull' Asia Orientale & Paris: Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 1996).

(2.) For the Catholic mission to Yuan dynasty China, see Johan Van Mechelen, "Western sources," in Handbook of Christianity in China (Volume One: 635-1800), ed. Nicolas Standaert (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 46-48.

(3.) There are many studies concerning the third time period missionary work. One could suggest as a priority R. Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China: A Short History with Documents (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2016).

(4.) Claudia von Collani and Nicholas Standaert, "Augustinians," in Handbook of Christianity in China (Volume One: 635-1800), ed. Nicholas Standaert (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 339.

(5.) Ibid., 339.

(6.) For the background of the Kangxi emperor's piao, see Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 187-89.

(7.) Among these Augustinians, Tomas Ortiz (1668-1742) was expelled and two of his companions moved to Macau to assist Ignacio de Santa Teresa Noruega. Only Noruega was exempt from a piao because he didn't look like a foreign missionary. Von Collani and Standaert, "Augustinians," 340.

(8.) See the section "Augustinians sent by Propaganda Fide" in ibid., 340-41.

(9.) For the Augustinian missions in China, see Isacio Rodriguez, "The Augustinian Missions in China," Historiography (1994): 475-77; Juan Ruiz de Medina, "Los origenes de las misiones agustinianas en China a partir de Macao," in Agustinos en America y Filipinas, ed. Isacio Rodriguez (Valladolid & Madrid: Ediciones Monte Casino, 1990), 16-21; Ignazio Barbagallo, "Le missioni degli Agostiniani scalzi nel Tonchino e nella Cina," Presenza Agostiniana 4 (1992): 131-50; Manuel Merino, "Orignese de las Misiones Agustinas en China," Missionalia Hispanica 37 (1980): 57-110.

(10.) Michele Ruggieri was Matteo Ricci's mentor. Ruggieri was the first Jesuit to study classical Chinese and Ricci later followed him. For Ruggieri, his most influential Chinese manuscript, Tianzhu shengjiao shilu (A Veritable Record of the Lord of Heaven), was published in November 1584 at Guangzhou, under a Buddhist signature "[phrase omitted]"(Xiseng Luoming jian/Western Buddhist Luoming jian; this name implies an accommodation with Buddhism). Following Ruggieri, Ricci published his representative Chinese-language work, Tianzhu shiyi ([phrase omitted]/True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven) in 1603 at Zhaoqing [phrase omitted], in which Ricci tried to adopt the strategy of a Confucian-Christian alliance against Buddhism. For Michele Ruggieri's and Matteo Ricci's mission work as well as their Chinese-language writings, see R. Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci, 21-36. See also Xu Zongze, Ming Qing jian Yesu huishi yizhu tiyao (in Chinese) (Shanghai: Shanghai Publishing House, 2006), 2-3.

11. The English translation here is mine. The classical Chinese by Ruggieri read: "[phrase omitted]" This excerpt was discovered in the first volume of the compiled work Western texts during Ming-Qing period, ed. Huang Xingtao and Wang Guorong (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2013), 6. For a study of this text, see also Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing zhongwen zhuangi" (in Chinese), in Studies on World Religions 4 (2017): 126. In a recent visit to Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, I also discovered on the second floor of the Center for Sino-Christian Studies some other manuscripts pertaining to Michele Ruggieri's and Matteo Ricci's early preaching of Augustine. I shall introduce the background of these theological files in a separate article.

(12.) The first edition of Voragine's Latin compilation Legenda aurea appeared in 1275 and the English adaption by William Caxton was published in the year 1483. They are collected at "Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana" in Florence. For the background of the Legenda aurea and the validity of the tale of Augustine, see Eric Ziolkowski, Evil Children in Religion, Literature, and Art (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 34-35; Meredith J. Gill, Augustine in the Italian Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 9; Sherry L. Reames, The Legenda Aurea: A Reexamination of Its Paradoxical History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985); 65-70.

(13.) Matteo Ricci paraphrased the tale of Augustine in this way: "[phrase omitted], ... [Once upon a time, there was an ancient Saint in the Western world, whose name was Augustinus...]" See Matteo Ricci, Catechismus Sinicus, ed. Thierry Meynard (Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2014), 88. Cf. John D. Young, Confucianism and Christianity: The First Encounter (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1983), 30.

(14.) See Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci, 23.

(15.) The tale of "Augustine and the Child at the seashore" was echoed by some Confucian-Christian literati such as Li Jiugong [phrase omitted], who paraphrased Ricci's text on Augustine in his book Reflection of Spiritual Exercise (<<[phrase omitted]>>). For the spreading of this tale through the Catholic churches, see Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing Augustine zhongwen zhuanji," 126. For LiJiugong and his book Reflection of Spiritual Exercise, see Xu Zongze, Ming Qing, 48-50.

(16.) The English translation is mine. For Chinese version, see Alphonse Vagnoni, Child Education, in Western texts during the Ming-Qing period, ed. Huang Xingtao and Wang Guorong (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2013), 217. Cf. Nicolas Standaert (ed.), Chinese Christian Texts from the Zikawei Library (Taipei: Fangji Press, 1996), 239-422; Xu Zongze, Ming Qing, 165-66. It is noteworthy that Thierry Meynard, a French professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, offered a systematic annotation to Child Education. For this annotated and edited version, see Alphonse Vagnoni, De Liberorum Educatione, ed. and annot. Thierry Meynard (Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2007).

(17.) The English translation is mine. For the Chinese version, see Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing Augustine zhongwen zhuanji," 127.

(18.) Alphonse Vagnoni's Pauline position would probably have been influenced by his teaching experience at the College of St. Paul in Macao. See Lin Hsi-chiang (Kid Lam), Rhetoric, Semiotics, and Religious Aphorism: A Study on Alfonso Vagnone's Pixue (in Chinese) (Taipei: Taiwan Christian Literature, 2015), 1-15.

(19.) For Jerome de Gravina and the details of Augustine in his work, see Li Sher-shiueh, "Spiritual Exercises: Emmanuel Diaz's Chinese Translation of the Contemptus mundi in Ming China," Compilation and Translation Review, 4 (2011): 1-38.

(20.) See "Preface" in Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci, viii-x.

(21.) Li Sher-shiueh, Transwriting: Translated Literature and Late-Ming Jesuits (in Chinese) (Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2012), 205-209. Cf. Xu Zongze, Ming Qing, 340.

(22.) [phrase omitted] [Alphonse Vagnoni, Vita Sanctorum (Wulin: Chaoxing tang, 1629)]. In the collections of the Bibliotheque nationale de France, Chinois no.: 6693. For the digital version, see; the seventh volume is also in the collections of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

(23.) The full Chinese text is collected in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Ming Qing zhongxi wenhua jiaoliushi wenxian congkan, vol.20, ed. Zhang Xiping (Zhengzhou: Daxiang Press, 2014), 31-40. For a comment on Vagnoni's Vita Sanctorum, see Ad Dudink & Nicholas Standaert, "Biographies of Saints and Sages," in Handbook of Christianity in China, 618-19.

(24.) The English translation is mine. The original Classical Chinese read: "[phrase omitted]" For the full text, see also Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing Augustine zhongwen zhuanji," 128-30.

(25.) "[phrase omitted]"

(26.) See Conf. 2.3.8; 9.9.22; ep. 211.4 (see also Possidius, Vita S. Aurel. Augustini: Hipponensis episcopi, PL 32:33-66). Cf. "Family and Relatives", in Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. Allan D. Fitzgerald (Michigan/Cambridge: Eerdmans), 353-54.

(27.) See Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 64 and 117.

(28.) Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci, 37-38. Cf. Cambridge History of Christianity (vol. 7): Enlightenment, Reawakening and Revolution 1660-1815, ed. Stewart Brown and Timothy Tackett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 463.

(29.) See Gao Zhe, Tianzhu jiao (in Chinese) (Beijing: Chinese Democratic and Legal Press, 2015), 221-25.

(30.) William Muirhead's translation is in the collections of the East China Theological Seminary, Shanghai. This is the 1899 version, but it should be mentioned that the first edition was in 1884.

(31.) The original texts in classical Chinese read: "[phrase omitted]" See William Muirhead, The Confession of an Ancient Saint (Shanghai: Shanghai Fuyin Tang, 1884), ii and 34. Robert K. Douglas, Supplementary Catalogue of Chinese Books and Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1903), 94-95. For a brief introduction of this text, see Zhou Weichi 2017, 131.

(32.) Alexander Williamson established an institute entitled "Chinese Book and Tract Society" in 1884 at Shanghai. The name soon changed to "Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge Among the Chinese ([phrase omitted])" in 1887 and "Guang xuehui" ([phrase omitted]) in 1894, organized together by Alexander Williamson, William Muirhead, Young John Allen and Timothy Richard. See Chen Huaiyu, Modern Missionaries on Chinese Religions (Shanghai: Shanghai People's Press, 2012), 7-14; Tsuen-Hsuin Tsien, Collected Writings on Chinese Culture (Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2011), 173-74.

(33.) Augustine, trans. and ed. Young John Allen (Shanghai: Guang xuehui, 1895). Before the publication of the book Augustine, an anonymous essay entitled "A Brief Biography of Augustine" had appeared in the Journal of Chinese and Western Churches in December 1893. Zhou Weichi argues that this "anonymous" author is probably referring to Allen. See Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing Augustine zhongwen zhuanji," 131-33.

(34.) For the discussion of "gods" in the pagan religions, and the Christian context, see Gao Yuan, Freedom from Passions in Augustine (Religions and Discourse) (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2017), 256-59.

(35.) Allen, Augustine, 2.

(36.) After Allen, there were several Chinese introductions to Augustine that appeared at the beginning of the 1900s, such as Timothy Richard's "Biography of Augustine" (1901) and Hu Yigu's translation of the Confessiones (1909). They all followed the accommodation strategy in their works. See Timothy Richard, "Biography of Augustine", in The Review of the Times, vol. 152, 9 (1901); Hu Yigu (transl.), Confessions (Shanghai: Guang xuehui, 1909).

(37.) A thought-provoking comment on the significance of Augustine for the Western intellectual history is offered by Jaroslav Pelikan:
In Augustine of Hippo Western Christianity found its most influential
spokesman, and the doctrine of grace its most articulate interpreter.
It has been said that although he may not have been the greatest of
Latin writers, he was almost certainly the greatest man who ever wrote
Latin. In any history of philosophy he must figure prominently; no
history of post-classical Latin literature would be complete without a
chapter on him; and there is probably no Christian theologian--Eastern
or Western, ancient or medieval or modern, heretical or orthodox--whose
historical influence can match his. Any theologian who would have
written either the Confessions or the City of God or On the Trinity
would have to be counted a major figure in intellectual history.
Augustine wrote them all, and vastly more. He was a universal genius.

See Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1971), 292.

(38.) Li Shuangxue, Research on the Relations between Chinese and Western Literatures (Taiwan: Jinglian, 2015), 173; E. Zurcher, "The Lord of Heaven and the Demons: Strange Stories from a Late Ming Christian Manuscript", in Religion und Philosophie in Asien, ed., G. Naundorf, K. H. Pohl, H. H. Schmidt (Wurzburg: Festschrift fur H. Steininger, 1985), 3b.

(39.) D. E. Mungello, The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994), 71.

(40.) For the original Chinese poem at Hangzhou, see Zhangxing yao, "Inscriptions Eulogizing the Sage Teaching," in Textes chretiens chinois dela bibliotheque nationale de France, vol.8, ed. Nicolas Standaert, Ad Dudink, and Nathalie Monnet (Taipei: Taipei Lishi xueshe, 2009), 583-87. For a discussion of Zhang Xingyao's poem, see Zhou Weichi, "Ming Qing Augustine zhongwen zhuanji," 130.

(41.) There were thirty-eight poems written by Zhang Xingyao, corresponding to the seventy-two paintings in the Hangzhou Catholic church. Although the church was later destroyed by a fire in 1692, these poems were preserved well. For the details of these poems by Zhang Xingyao, see Mungello, The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou, 70-71; 179-82. Cf. John W. Witek, "Leading Christians after 1665," in Handbook of Christianity in China, 433-34.

(42.) Ad Dudink and Nicholas Standaert, "Apologetic writings," in Handbook of Christianity in China, 617-18. Cf. Xu Zongze, Ming Qing, 96-98.

(43.) According to Martini (Roma, 1654), the number of Chinese Christians in 1627 was about 13,000, while in 1637, the number reached around 60,000. For the figures, see Nicholas Standaert, "Number of Christians," in Handbook of Christianity in China, 382-83.

(44.) See "Excerpt from Ricci's True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (1603) to illustrate the concordance between Christian moral teachings and Confucian texts and Ricci's attacks on Buddhism," in Po-chia Hsia, Matteo Ricci, 99-100.

(45.) For the 24th World Congress of Philosophy, see

(46.) For the emergence of Chinese Augustinian studies and the newly established committee at Peking University, see the Chinese Committee for Medieval Philosophy (ed.), Various Traditions of Medieval Philosophy (Peking: Peking University, 2018).

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Author:Yuan, Gao
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 22, 2019
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