MRI Forum 43


"The Background of Matteo Ricci.
The Shaping of his Intellectual and
Scientific Endowment"

by Gianni Criveller

October 6th 2008





Summary of the Presentation

Matteo Ricci

Most studies and biographies about Matteo Ricci (October 6, 1552-May 11, 1610) focus, almost exclusively, on his activities and contributions in China (from 1583). This presentation aims to illustrate Matteo Ricci’s upbringing; his years of formation at his hometown (Macerata) and in Rome, at the Roman College. Ricci first pursued law studies at La Sapienza University but soon decided to enter the Roman College that, with its innovative Ratio Studiorum, was one of the most advanced intellectual and research centers in Europe at the time. He received 5 years of solid formation in the humanities and sciences (including mathematics, astronomy and cartography), together with Robert Bellarmine and Christopher Clavius as teachers.  This presentation will describe the cultural milieu that contributed to shape those intellectual, scientific and religious qualities that Ricci displayed in China.  The theological and religious formation of Ricci was completed in Coimbra and in Goa, where spent before reaching Macau in 1582.

Profile of the Speaker

Gianni Criveller (柯毅霖) is at present the Program Coordinator and Professor in Master and Ph. D. in Religious Studies at Inter-University Institute of Macau, Saint Joseph Centre for Christian Studies.  He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on June 8, 1986, in the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME).  He is currently serving as a councilor of the Regional Council of the Region of Hong Kong/China.  Criveller has spent 17 years in different Chinese settings: Taiwan (1991-1994), Hong Kong (from 1995); Macau (from 2007) and Mainland China (more than 40 trips). He has written extensively about Greater China.  Criveller is also active in various organizations concerned with human rights.  Over last 20 years Criveller has studied the reception of Christianity in China, with special emphasis on missionary work and strategies.  Criveller has also researched on the current situation of the Catholic Church in China and the policy of freedom of religious belief by the PRC government.  As professor of Theology, Criveller has keen interest in contemporary Theology, especially Christology, Asian Theologies and Theology of Mission.   On the above-mentioned topics, he has authored various books and more than 50 academic studies.