Detail map of Roma, Lazio, Italy,Duanzhou Qu, Zhaoqing Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China

A: Roma, Lazio, Italy, B: Duanzhou Qu, Zhaoqing Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China

Jesuit Missionary Michele Ruggieri Issues the First Book Written by a European in China and Printed in China

1583 to 1584
<p>First page of (the main text of) the manuscript of the Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, compiled by Fr. Matteo Ricci, Fr. Michele Ruggieri, and the Chinese (Macau) Jesuit lay brother Sebastian Fernandez in Zhaoqing, Guangdong between 1583 and 1588.</p>

First page of (the main text of) the manuscript of the Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, compiled by Fr. Matteo Ricci, Fr. Michele Ruggieri, and the Chinese (Macau) Jesuit lay brother Sebastian Fernandez in Zhaoqing, Guangdong between 1583 and 1588.

In 1583-84 Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, missionary in China, and one of the first European sinologists, had his Catechism (Tianzhu shilu, "True Account of God") printed in the Chinese language at Zhaoqing, (Chao-ch’ing). Printed by wood blocks, Ruggieri's Catechism was the first book written in Chinese by a European, and the first book written by a European in China and printed in China. 1200 copies were printed of which only two seem to have survived.

It is thought that during 1583-88 Ruggieri collaborated with father Matteo Ricci "in creating a Portuguese-Chinese dictionary - the first ever European-Chinese dictionary, for which they developed a consistent system for transcribing Chinese words in Latin alphabet. A Chinese Jesuit Lay Brother Sebastiano Fernandez, who had grown up and [had] been trained in Macau, assisted in this work. Unfortunately, the manuscript was misplaced in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, and re-discovered only in 1934, by Pasquale d'Elia. This dictionary was finally published in 2001" (Wikipedia article on Michel Ruggieri, accessed 01-28-2012).

Timeline Themes