In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Matteo Ricci

  • Introduction
  • Modern Biographies of Ricci
  • Studies on the Jesuit China Mission
  • Ricci’s Chinese Interlocutors
  • Ricci and His World Map

Renaissance and Reformation Matteo Ricci
Ronnie Po-chia Hsia
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 April 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0076


Matteo Ricci (b. 1553–d. 1610) was born in Macerata in the Papal States. In 1571 he joined the Society of Jesus in Rome and studied at the Collegium Romanum before volunteering for overseas missions. In 1578 Ricci arrived in Goa and served in Portuguese India for three years before traveling on to Macao. In 1583 Ricci accompanied Michele Ruggieri to Zhaoqing, establishing the first Jesuit residence in China. Learning the Chinese language and classics, Ricci also transmitted Western scientific, philosophical, and religious knowledge, rising in the society of Ming China, as he made his way from the South to the imperial capital in Beijing, where he died in 1610 and won posthumous fame as the most famous missionary to China.

General Overviews

To understand Ricci, one should start by knowing his world, which encompassed both Catholic Europe of the Counter-Reformation, Portuguese India, and China in the late Ming dynasty. The following titles represent selected works that illustrate that world and are divided into three subsections on the European World at the time of Ricci, Iberia in Asia and the Jesuit Missions, and Religion in Late Imperial China.

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