PORTRAIT OF A JESUIT –
ALESSANDRO VALIGNANO

“Ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audeat”
A historian always should have the courage to
say what is not true, and should never be afraid to
tell the truth
- Cicero

知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也。

[ 论语 ]

When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it - this is knowledge

The Analects

 
Our second volume of the MRI Jesuitas Publications Series Portrait of a Jesuit is dedicated to the memory of Fr. Alessandro Valignano, SJ, a great figure in Macau and in Asian history.

A history chronicle records that Valignano (1536-1606), a native of Chieti in Abruzzi, at the age of 30 was received into the Society of Jesus by its general Francesco Borgia, SJ. Four years later, when ordained a priest, he first assumed the post of novice master and welcomed Matteo Ricci to the novitiate of Sant’Andrea di Quirinale. One year later he was nominated rector of the Jesuit College in Macerata, Ricci’s place of birth. In August 1573 he was called to Rome by the newly elected General, Everard Mercurian, SJ, to be assigned Visitor of all the East Indies. In this capacity he sailed from Lisbon to Goa (via Mozambique) where he arrived in the company of forty four brothers on September 6th 1574 and spent his first three years of hard work in India. Finally he left Goa and arrived in Macao (via Malacca) on September 6, 1578 which marked the first of a series of his six arrivals in Macau during his twenty seven years of highly productive work.

During these years Macao became his missionary base and home from which he conducted diverse activities, which stimulated both Japanese and Chinese missions, while he kept an eye on Portuguese expansion in the region, especially India.

Subsequently, during his six following sojourns in Macao, which all told took almost ten years of his life, he made the most valuable contribution to the Jesuit mission in East Asia. According to the chronology relating to his stay in Macao, we can highlight some of his most eventful initiatives and implementations.

These and many other facts of Valignano’s busy life will be revealed by reading the present collection of four essays and a chronology, written by distinguished historians and friends of our Institute. Among them I would like first to emphasize two of our Jesuit companions who are no longer with us today, namely Fr Edward J. Malatesta, SJ, and Fr John W. Witek, SJ, whose expertise, care of the Jesuit heritage and profound respect and understanding of Chinese history and of the role that Macao could and should play in and contribute to the region, were crucial in the decision to found and incorporate our Macau Ricci Institute into the long Jesuit tradition of dialogue and mutual enrichment in Sino-European cultural and academic relations and exchange.

Artur K. Wardega, S.J.
Director of the Macau Ricci Institute

Available at our Macau Ricci Institute.
Please email enquiry to info@riccimac.org

 





Father Alessandro Valignano, S. J.