Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Franciscan in XIVth Century China

'Twas Henri-Marie Cardinal de Lubac's mentioning of "his work [of] translating the New Testament and the Psalter into the language of the Mongols" in Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man that introduced me to Servant of God John of Montecorvino (1246-1328), "Italian Franciscan missionary, traveler and statesman, founder of the earliest Roman Catholic missions in India and China, and archbishop of Peking, and Patriarch of the Orient."

The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on John of Montecorvino informs us, "In 1286 Argun, the khan or ruler of this kingdom, sent a request to the pope through the Nestorian bishop, Bar Sauma, to send Catholic missionaries to the Court of the great Chinese emperor, Kúblaí Khan (1260-94), who was well disposed towards Christianity." Cardinal de Lubac, in a footnote, writes, "It may be noted that the Nestorian missionaries were able to adapt themselves to the Chinese language and method of thought, without, it appears, any injury to orthodoxy, and to express the essentials of dogma in terms taken from Taoism and Buddhism."

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.