St. Paul's College, Macau

St. Paul's College of Macau (Portuguese: Colégio de São Paulo) also known as College of Madre de Deus[1] (Mater Dei in Latin) was a university founded in 1594 in Macau by Jesuits at the service of the Portuguese under the Padroado treaty. It claims the title of the first Western university in East Asia.[2]

"St. Paul's University College of Macau" was founded by Alessandro Valignano in 1594 by upgrading the previous Madre de Deus School, as a stopover to prepare Jesuit missionaries traveling east. Its academic program came to include core disciplines such as theology, philosophy, and mathematics, geography, astronomy, and Latin, Portuguese and Chinese, including also a school of music and arts. It had immense influence on the learning of Eastern languages and culture, housing the first western sinologists Matteo Ricci, Johann Adam Schall von Bell and Ferdinand Verbiest, among many famous scholars of the time.

The College was the base for Jesuit missionaries travelling to China, Japan and East Asia, and developed mingled with a thrifty Macau-Nagasaki trade until 1645. After a revolt blamed on religious influence, Japan expelled the Portuguese and banned Catholicism, and the college became then a shelter for fleeing Christian priests. Jesuits abandoned it in 1762 when they were expelled by the Portuguese authorities, during the suppression of the Society of Jesus. The buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1835. In 2005, the ruins of St. Paul's - notably the facade of the Madre de Deus church - were officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Historic Centre of Macau.

St. Paul's College, Macau
StPauls whole
Ruins of St. Paul's, showing the remaining facade of the Madre de Deus church
Former names
Madre de Deus School
TypePrivate Roman Catholic research non-profit all-male
Higher education institution
FounderFr. Alessandro Valignano, SJ
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Santo António,


Jesuites en chine
Represented (top): Matteo Ricci, Adam Schall von Bell, Ferdinand Verbiest
Bottom: Paul Siu, colao or Prime Minister of State; Candide Hiu, granddaughter of Colao Paul Siu.

Since 1557, Portuguese Macau had been the single center for exchange between China and Japan, and from there to Europe via Goa. In 1571 Nagasaki was opened for Portuguese ships, after an agreement with daimyō Ōmura Sumitada who converted to Catholicism, and a flourishing trade established between the two cities, that would become known as "Nanban trade period".

Missionary activities in Japan had begun in 1549, when Jesuit co-founder Francis Xavier was received in a friendly manner and permitted to preach. Jesuits established congregations in Hirado, Yamaguchi and Bungo (by 1579 there were about 130,000 converts[3]) and many daimyōs converted to Christianity, some to gain access to trade and arms. An attempt to reach China was made in 1552 by Francis Xavier, after being sought to talk to the Chinese Emperor in the favor of Portuguese being held prisoners in Guangzhou, but he died off mainland China, at Shangchuan Island: although Macau had been granted to Portuguese, contacts with continental China were always cautious and, starting in 1517, several Portuguese embassies were stalled while trying.

In 1576 Pope Gregory XIII included Japan in the Portuguese diocese of Macau. In September 1578 Alessandro Valignano arrived at Macau as a visitor of Jesuit Missions in the Indies, to examine and when necessary reorganize, answering to the Jesuit Superior in Rome. No missions had succeeded in establishing in mainland China, while in Japan they multiplied. Language study had always been one of the core problems: in his view, it was necessary first to learn to speak, read, and write the Chinese language. To this end, he wrote to the Superior in India, who sent to Macau Jesuit scholar Michele Ruggieri (羅明堅)[4][5] who called the help of Matteo Ricci (利瑪竇), to share the work. Ricci joined him in Macau in 1582.[5] and together, they become the first European scholars of China and the Chinese language.

In 1579 Valignano made his first visit to Japan. Before the Visitor arrived, seventeen of Valignano's personally appointed missionaries wrote to him complaining that language training was totally nonexistent. Lacking fluency in the Japanese language, Francis Xavier had limited to reading aloud a Japanese translation of a catechism, however Jesuits established several congregations. In 1563 Oda Nobunaga favored Jesuit missionary Luís Fróis, and generally tolerated Christianity. It was Valignano's first official act upon arriving in Japan that all new missionaries in the province spend two years in a language course, separating these newcomers by leaps and bounds from the first enthusiastic but stilted efforts of Francis Xavier.

On 9 June 1580 Ōmura Sumitada ceded jurisdiction over Nagasaki and Mogi to the Society of Jesus. On August 25, the armies of Philip II of Spain won the Battle of Alcântara, claiming the throne of Portugal and accomplishing the union of the empires so feared in Macau and Nagasaki, as it threatened the Chinese permission to stay in Macau, and challenged their carefully built trade monopoly as it opened to the Spanish based in the Philippines. In 1582, from Japan, Valignano sent an embassy [6] to the Pope and the kings of Europe sponsored by Kirishitan daimyos Sumitada, Ōtomo Sōrin and Arima Harunobu, whom he accompanied via Macau to Goa. In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate and kept sovereignty.[7] Macau prospered, and Jesuits engaged in the trade. This breach of ecclesiastical practice did not go unnoticed by other European missions in the area, or by those living via inter-Asiatic trade. Eventually, the Pope was forced to intervene, and, in 1585, ordered an immediate cessation of all mercantile activities by the Society. Valignano made an impassioned appeal to the Pope, as Jesuit needed the funds to their many enterprises.

A page from the manuscript Portuguese-Chinese dictionary created by Ruggieri, Ricci, and Fernandez (between 1583-88)

In 1594 St. Paul's College of Macau was authorized by the Jesuit superior in Rome, by upgrading the previous Madre de Deus school. At first the college included two seminaries for lay brothers, a university with faculties of arts, philosophy and theology, a primary school and a school of music and arts. By 1595 Valignano could boast in a letter that not only had the Jesuits printed a Japanese grammar (see Arte da Lingoa de Iapam) and dictionary (see Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam (Nippo Jisho)), published in a printing press established in Nagasaki, but also several books (mostly the lives of saints and martyrs) entirely in Japanese. The main body of the grammar and dictionary was compiled from 1590–1603; when finished, it was a truly comprehensive volume with the dictionary alone containing some 32,798 entries.

Between 1597 and 1762 it had immense influence on the learning of Eastern languages and culture by missionary Jesuits, making Macau a base for the spreading of Christianity in China and in Japan. Its academic program soon became comprehensive and equivalent to that of a university: it included core disciplines such as theology, philosophy, and mathematics, geography, astronomy, and Latin, Portuguese and Chinese. Many famous scholars taught and learned at this college, that became home to the first western sinologists such as Matteo Ricci, Johann Adam Schall von Bell and Ferdinand Verbiest.

Macau was thus the training ground for missions in Asia. From 1597 until 1762, Jesuit priests entering into China would always come first to Macau where, at St. Paul’s College, they would learn to speak Chinese together with other areas of Chinese knowledge, including philosophy and comparative religion, gathering a body of knowledge that would lead to the Jesuit position in defense of the adoption of local practices in the Chinese Rites controversy. It was the largest seminary in East Asia at the time, and the first western-style university in the region.

Notable scholars

See also



  1. ^ Trudy Ring, International Dictionary of Historic Places -Asia and Oceania: eds.: Paul E. Schellinger ; Robert M. Salkin, p.544
  2. ^ Bray, Mark, Ramsey Koo, Education and society in Hong Kong and Macao: comparative perspectives on continuity and change, シュプリンガー・ジャパン株式会社, 2005, ISBN 1-4020-3405-9, p.114
  3. ^ L. Walker, Brett (Fall 2002). "Foreign Affairs and Frontiers in Early Modern Japan: a Historio-graphical Essay". Early Modern Japan: an Interdisciplinary Journal. 10 (2): 44–62.
  4. ^ Yves Camus, "Jesuits' Journeys in Chinese Studies" Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b "Dicionário Português-Chinês : 葡漢詞典 (Pu-Han Cidian): Portuguese-Chinese dictionary", by Michele Ruggieri, Matteo Ricci; edited by John W. Witek. Published 2001, Biblioteca Nacional. ISBN 972-565-298-3. Partial preview available on Google Books. Page 153
  6. ^ The Christian Century in Japan 1549–1650 C. R. Boxer, ISBN 1-85754-035-2
  7. ^ "The entry "Macau history" in Macau Encyclopedia" (in Chinese). Macau Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2008-01-02.


  • Saraiva, Luís, Catherine Jami (2008). The Jesuits, the Padroado and East Asian science (1552–1773). World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-277-125-4.
  • Witek, John W., Michel Reis, Colégio Universitário de S. Paulo (Macau) (1999). Religion and culture: an international symposium commemorating the fourth centenary of the University College of St. Paul, Macau, 28 November to 1 December 1994. Instituto Cultural de Macau. ISBN 978-972-35-0235-0.
Allen Yuan

Allen Yuan Xiangchen (Chinese: 袁相忱; pinyin: Yuán Xiāngchén; 1914 – August 16, 2005) was a Chinese Protestant Christian pastor. He was acclaimed by Open Doors as "a towering figure in China's house church movement" and known for his resistance against participation in the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which resulted in imprisonment for more than twenty-one years.

Andrew Gih

Andrew Gih or Ji Zhiwen (simplified Chinese: 计志文; traditional Chinese: 計志文; pinyin: Jì Zhìwén; January 10, 1901–February 13, 1985) was a Chinese Protestant evangelist who cofounded the Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band in 1931 and founded the Evangelize China Fellowship in 1947, both initially based in Shanghai. After the political situation worsened in China due to the communist revolution, he and his wife Dorcas Zhang would move to Hong Kong and eventually retire at the Los Angeles headquarters of Evangelize China Fellowship in 1978.

Anti-Christian Movement (China)

The Anti-Christian Movement (非基督教运动) was an intellectual and political movement in China in the 1920s. The May Fourth Movement for a New Culture attacked religion of all sorts, including Confucianism and Buddhism as well as Christianity, rejecting all as superstition. The various movements were also inspired by modernizing attitudes deriving from both nationalist and socialist ideologies, as well as feeding on older anti-Christian sentiment that was in large part due to repeated invasions of China by Western countries.

Chinese Contemporary Bible

The Chinese Contemporary Bible (当代圣经 Dangdai Shengjing) is a Bible translation by Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, published in 2012.The CCB is a translation from the Greek and Hebrew, replacing the Chinese Living Bible, New Testament (当代福音) originally published in 1974 by Living Bibles International, then republished in 1998 by IBS. The CLB was criticized for its reliance on the English Living Bible.

Chinese New Version

The Chinese New Version (abbreviation:CNV; simplified Chinese: 新译本; traditional Chinese: 新譯本) is a Chinese language Bible translation that was completed in 1992 by the Worldwide Bible Society (環球聖經公會 Huanqiu Shengjing Xiehui) with the assistance of the Lockman Foundation. It was formerly known as the "New Chinese Version" (NCV), but the English name and abbreviation was changed to avoid confusion with the English New Century Version.

Chinese Standard Bible

The Chinese Standard Bible (CSB 中文标准译本 Zhongwen biaozhun yiben), is a Chinese New Testament translation produced by the Global Bible Initiative and Holman Bible Publishers in 2009.

Jackie Pullinger

Jacqueline Bryony Lucy ‘Jackie’ Pullinger, MBE (born 1944) is a British Protestant Christian charismatic missionary to Hong Kong and founder of the St Stephen's Society. She has been ministering in Hong Kong since 1966. The early years of her Hong Kong ministry are chronicled in the book Chasing the Dragon (1980).

Jingjiao Documents

The Jingjiao Documents (Chinese: 景教經典; pinyin: Jǐngjiào jīngdiǎn; also known as the Nestorian Documents or the Jesus Sutras) are a collection of Chinese language texts connected with the 7th-century mission of Alopen, a Church of the East bishop from Sassanian Mesopotamia. The manuscripts date from between 635, the year of Alopen's arrival in China, and around 1000, when the cave at Mogao near Dunhuang in which the documents were discovered was sealed.

By 2011, four of the manuscripts were known to be in a private collection in Japan, while one was in Paris. Their language and content reflect varying levels of interaction with Chinese culture, including use of Buddhist and Taoist terminology.

Joachim Bouvet

Joachim Bouvet (Chinese: 白晋 or 白進, courtesy name: 明远) (b. Le Mans, July 18, 1656 – June 28, 1730, Peking) was a French Jesuit who worked in China, and the leading member of the Figurist movement.


Lianghui (simplified Chinese: 两会; traditional Chinese: 兩會; pinyin: Liǎnghuì; Wade–Giles: Liang3 Hui4; literally: 'two meetings') is a common Mandarin Chinese abbreviation for a pair of organizations which have close relations.

In the Chinese government, the term refers to the annual plenary sessions of the national or local People's Congress and the national or local committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It is used also by the officially sanctioned Protestant and Catholic churches in China, and has been used by some to avoid Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China.

Liu Xiaofeng (academic)

Liu Xiaofeng (Chinese: 刘小枫, b. 1956) is a contemporary Chinese scholar and a professor at Renmin University of China. He has been considered the prototypical example of what is called a cultural Christian (Chinese: 文化基督徒; pinyin: wénhuà jīdūtú), meaning a believer who may lack a specific church identification or affiliation, and was, along with He Guanghu, one of the main forerunners of the academic field of Sino-Christian Theology (simplified Chinese: 汉语神学; traditional Chinese: 漢語神學; pinyin: hànyǔ shénxué). However, in recent years, his interest has shifted from studies in Christian theology to the political theories of Leo Strauss.

Murals from the Nestorian Temple at Qocho

The murals from the Nestorian Temple at Qocho (German: Wandbilder aus einem christlichen Tempel, Chotscho) are three Nestorian Christian mural fragments—Palm Sunday, Repentance and Entry into Jerusalem—discovered by the German Turpan expedition team, which was led by two German archaeologists Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq, in the early 20th century.

These murals were painted in the 7th to 9th centuries (Tang dynasty), belonging to a ruined Nestorian church at Qocho, an ancient oasis city located in present-day Xinjiang, the westernmost region of China. The original Entry into Jerusalem is lost, there is only a copy of line drawing made by Grünwedel. The murals are preserved in the Museum of Asian Art in Dahlem, Berlin.

Painting of a Nestorian Christian figure

The Painting of a Nestorian Christian figure or Fragment of a Christian figure, Nestorian painting of Jesus Christ, is a late 9th-century Tang dynasty fragmentary silk painting of a haloed man with crosses on his head and chest who has been interpreted as a Christian figure, associated with the Church of the East in China. It was discovered by the Hungarian-born British archaeologist Aurel Stein at the Library Cave (cave 17) of the Mogao Caves in 1908. The painting is in the British Museum in London.

Three Pillars of Chinese Catholicism

Xú Guāngqǐ (Wade–Giles: Hsü Kuang-ch'i; 徐光啟, 1562–1633) of Shanghai, and Lǐ Zhīzǎo (Wade–Giles: Li Chih-tsao; 李之藻, 1565 – November 1, 1630) and Yáng Tíngyún (Wade–Giles: Yang T'ing-yün; 楊廷筠, 1557–1627) both of Hangzhou, are known as the Three Great Pillars of Chinese Catholicism (聖教三柱石, literally the "Holy Religion's Three Pillar-Stones"). It is due to their combined efforts that Hangzhou and Shanghai became the centre of missionary activity in late Ming China. The three men shared an interest in Western science and mathematics, and it is probable that this was what first attracted them to the Jesuits responsible for their conversion.

Tianjin Massacre

The Tientsin Massacre (Chinese: 天津教案; pinyin: Tiānjīn Jiào'àn; literally: 'Tianjin Religion Case'), one of the most important "missionary incidents" of the late Qing dynasty, involved attacks on French Catholic priests and nuns, violent belligerence from French diplomats, and armed foreign intervention in Tianjin (Tientsin) in 1870. The incident marked an end to relative cooperation between foreign powers and the Tongzhi court, and adversely affected the ongoing renegotiation of the Treaties of Tientsin, first signed in 1858.

Today's Chinese Version

The Today's Chinese Version (TCV) (Traditional characters 現代中文譯本) is a recent translation of the Bible into modern Chinese by the United Bible Societies. The New Testament was first published in 1975, and the entire Bible was published in 1979. The Bible uses simple, easy to read Chinese.

Wu Li

Wu Li (simplified Chinese: 吴历; traditional Chinese: 吳歷; pinyin: Wú Lì); ca. 1632-1718 was a Chinese landscape painter poet and calligrapher from Jiangsu who lived during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).

Wu was born in Changzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. His style name was 'Yu Shan' and his sobriquet was 'Mojing Daoren'. Wu learned poetry from Qian Qianyi. He was taught painting by Wang Shimin and Wang Jian, and was influenced by the painters Huang Gongwang and Wang Meng. His landscapes utilized dry brush strokes and light colors. His distinctive style elevated him to where he is now identified as one of the Six Masters of the early Qing period.

Wu converted to Catholicism, and became a member of the Society of Jesus. In 1688, after 7 years of training at St. Paul's College, Macau, he was ordained one of the three first Chinese Jesuit priests, taking the name Simon-Xavier a Cunha. He spent the remaining 30 years of his life serving tirelessly as priest in rural villages.

The dramatic decline and fall of the Ming Dynasty and the coming to power of the Manchu Qing Dynasty caused the crisis of a number of intellectuals, who looked for new directions for them and for the country. The teaching of the Jesuits' learned missionaries, based out of Macau, appealed to them. Several literati, steeped in Confucianism and Buddhism, sought widening religious horizons, accepting the 'Western Teaching'. Conversion to Christianity was for them the arrival point of a spiritual and personal journey toward religious fulfillment. The converts saw in the Christian teaching an opportunity to revitalize, morally and scientifically, a country in crisis.

Wu often went to the Xing Fu Buddhist convent in Suzhou during his middle-age years and was a close friend of monk Mo Yong, but from 1675 on he was inclined toward Catholicism through his contact with Jesuit missionaries Lu Rima (Franciscus de Rougemont), Bai Yingli (Phillippe Couplet), and others. He was converted and christened (by?) Ximan Sawulue (Simon Xaverius). In 1681 Couplet was recalled to Europe. Wu intended to go with him, but his plans did not materialize when they reached Macau. Wu remained in Macau for five months and returned to his hometown in the summer of 1682. He returned to Macau in the winter and joined the Society of Jesus.

At the age of 50, Wu Li's life took a dramatic turn. After the death of his wife and his masters, obeying to an internal quest for spiritual excellence, fascinated by the Jesuit art and architecture, and after having been a Catholic for 7 years, he chose to join the Jesuits in Macau in pursue of the 'heavenly learning'. There he strenuously searched 'the Western Lantern', struggling to learn a new language (Latin) and to acquire a new religious dimension, on the lines of the 'Spiritual Exercises', as a son of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

He was consecrated a priest on 1 Aug 1688 in Nanjing by Chinese bishop Luo Wenzao. His first pastoral assignment was in Shanghai. In 1691 he was put in charge of the religious affairs of the Jiading Catholic Church.

Wu Li indeed chose for himself a path of self-denial and total dedication to the new faith and to the new ministry. Often disguised as a peasant or fisherman, he traveled for thirty years from village to village to evangelize. Wu Li could have become a rich and famous court painter, as had his friend Wang Hui, but he chose instead the obscurity of Jiangsu countryside to serve as an itinerant missionary and pastor, struggling against tremendous difficulties and with poor results. He was a good shepherd, in imitation of Christ, totally devoted to the spiritual welfare of peasants. The poems that he kept writing as a priest illustrate exceptional qualities of his tireless dedication, his faith, his joys and the moments of frustration.

Wu Li in no way rejected his Chinese identity, as shown by the fact that his paintings maintained an autochthonous style, and he signed them with his Chinese name. The extent of Western influence in his figurative art, if any, has been discussed by scholars, with no clear consensus reached.

Scholars, however, agree on the exceptionally important value of Wu Li's personal experience. Wu Li was a man of rare qualities: a fine Chinese intellectual, a remarkable artist, a Jesuit, a missionary and a priest totally devoted to his flock.

Wu died at age 86 after serving 30 years as a priest. He composed many poems reflecting his own preaching career and religious feelings, which are collected in an anthology, San Yi Ji. His sermons from 15 Aug 1696 to 25 Dec 1697 and other religious activities were compiled by Zhao Lun, a convert in Jiading, in a book, Kou Duo (Record of Word and Deeds), the first collection of sermons by a Chinese priest.

Xi Shengmo

Xi Sheng Mo (Chinese: 席勝魔; c. 1836–1896) also known as Pastor Hsi, was a Chinese Christian leader.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.