MRI Seminar

Seminar devoted to the Memory of the Suppression and the Restoration of the
Society of Jesus in its Bicentennial Year of Commemoration 1814 -2014

by Paul Begheyn, SJ, Yves Camus, SJ, César Guillén Nuñez,
Liu Jingjing, and Artur K. Wardega, SJ

12 March 2014

Please scroll down to see audio links
( Presentations in PDF are also available )

Summary of the Presentations

The year of 2014 awakes our memory of the historical event happened in 1814 when after almost forty years of suppression (1773-1814), the Society of Jesus, a religious order, finally was re-established by the papal Bull of Pius VII entitled Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, published in August 7th, 1814. However, thirteen years earlier (in 1801), when the Pope was elected, he gave already his approval for the existence of the Society within the borders of Russia. Then later, in 1804 he has extended that permission to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. He also explained his decision in the words as follow: “because we should consider ourselves guilty of a grievous sin in the sight of God if, in the great dangers to which the Christian commonwealth is exposed, we neglect to avail ourselves of the help which the special Providence of God now offer us.” Then with the same premise, he added: “We order and establish that all the concessions and faculties which we have already given uniquely to the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, are now understood as extended, as we in fact extend them, to our entire ecclesiastical State and equally to every other State and dominion.”

The 1773 suppression of the Jesuits, and the various national expulsions and banishments that followed it, sought to destroy the Society as a corporate entity. This did not spell the end of the Jesuit enterprise, however. Persecuted by the Catholic monarchies of Portugal, Spain, and France, the Jesuits survived in various guises and locales around the globe.

In above respect some initiatives of commemoration has been already initiated in various academic and historical institutes of the Society of Jesus around the world and we, at the Ricci Institute of Macau, would like also bring this theme to the panel and invite you to join us and reflect with us upon this fascinating period which somehow has marked our global history and the development of the Order who passed thought these challenging times. Therefore, during this year 2014 we plan to organize a series of academic and cultural activities in order to provide, as much as we can, the most complete picture of the Suppression and the Restoration of our Order. By so doing, we aim to shed a light on some neglected aspects of life of our companions and communities during these crucial times of dispersion and tribulation as well as of their final re-incorporation into the New Society.

Our Seminar will firstly focus on the suppression of the Society in Europe, and then on the last Jesuits survived in Beijing, China. We will bring into the limelight the historical background and reflect on it from the eye view of the Jesuit Chinese Province and then from its own Macau perspectives. Finally we will come to the question of the Restoration and its manifestation throughout the art and architecture in the New Society of Jesus in Macau and China.


Adam Beckers (1744-1806), (ex-) Jesuit in Amsterdam, and the Restoration of
the Society of Jesus

At the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 the Jesuits in the Dutch Republic were not bothered by its government. Thus many of them could remain in their stations, keep their properties and continue to function as priests, in contrast to their confreres elsewhere. Fr Adam Beckers of the station De Krijtberg in Amsterdam, founded in 1654, became the driving force among several attempts of the Society’s restoration. Thanks to a large collection of letters he exchanged with (ex-) Jesuits and others in Russia, Belgium, England and the United States it is possible to get a detailed account of the period between suppression and restoration. Beckers also was the man who sent young Jan-Philip Roothaan (1785-1853) to Russia, who would become General of the Society of Jesus in 1829.

Yves CAMUS, SJ, 趙儀文:
Beyond Suppression and Restoration: the Jesuits in China, an Essay at
Some Reading of History

Among the various causes that may have led to the worldwide suppression in 1773 of the Society of Jesus, the Chinese Rites theological controversy in Europe (Paris and Rome in particular) has been mentioned more often than not. This essay at some reading of the events will focus on how the suppression of the Jesuit order has been lived by some of them and mainly in Beijing where the Controversy flared up in a flurry of ecclesiastical decrees while the life of Christian communities in the provinces of China continued to grow. Attention will be paid as far as possible to the historical context as much as it can explain the worldwide restoration in 1814 of the Jesuits. Yet the decision by Pope Pius VII did not take effect in China before 1840, that is at a time when the country was entering the painful period of humiliations by Western powers. How Jesuits of the restored Society of Jesus were sent to the field in such a context should merit more attention. Would the seeds of friendship beyond controversies sown by Matteo Ricci and his brothers three centuries ago perish in the turmoil? Such a question remains valid as it is still based on hope.

Artur K. WARDEGA, SJ, 萬德化:
Suppression and Restoration of the Society of Jesus in China
Fr. Mateos' thirty-eight pages well-documented paper is based on Jesuit correspondence and original documents and depicts three main climax periods of the Jesuit exile in China; suppression of the Society, tribulation of its former members and then their final incorporation into the New Society. The paper gives overview of the Jesuits' geographical dispersion and activities in various locations in China; it also stresses the crucial role of superiors and their decisions, their sorrows and afflictions especially manifested by Fathers; François Bourgeois, Superior of the French Jesuits and by Jean Amiot, an astronomer and writer. In 1778, Fr. Louis de Poirot, one from five ex-Jesuits who survived in Peking wrote several letters to the Congregation of Propaganda, requesting the re-establishment of the Society of Jesus in China. In the end, the 78-year-old de Poirot remained in Peking alone, and peacefully passed away on December 13, 1813, eight months before the solemn publication of Pius VII’s Bull, “Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum”, restoring the Society of Jesus in the whole world. Here comes account of the revival of the Jesuit presence in China, its circumstances, challenges and opportunities opened to the Chinese mission in the New Society.
Fernando Mateos, SJ, 沈起元 is long date historian of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus. He is also a member of the Taipei Ricci Institute. He authored several books: China: mission de dolor, Siglo de las Missiones, Bilbao, 1961; China, Operación Fuga, Mensajero, Bilbao, 1967; China Jesuits in East-Asia: Starting from zero, 1949-1957, TEC, Taibei, 1995; and co-authored Diccionario Español de la Lengua China, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1977.

劉晶晶 LIU Jingjing:
The Last Remaining Jesuits in China after Suppression
This paper will attempt to show the situation of the Jesuits in China and Russia through Fr. Louis de Poirot (1735–1813 賀清泰)’s life. He was the last remaining Jesuit in China and was in contact with the Jesuits from the Old Society. He was also the last of the Western painters who worked for Emperor Qianlong along with Fr. Giuseppe Panzi. The two painters replaced the more famous Fathers Giuseppe Castiglione and Jean-Denis Attiret. He was also in charge of the translation of Latin and Manchu for the diplomatic correspondence between Peking and Saint Petersburg and was the first to translate most of the Bible into Chinese and Manchu. The paper will show the attitude of Chinese Emperor and other officials towards the suppression; did they even care about the suppression of the Jesuits? What’s of any concern to them? At the end I will present a precious letter written by Fr. General Brzozowski on Sept. 25, 1806 and sent with the help of the Russian ecclesiastical mission to Fr. Louis de Poirot asking him whether he had received Fr. Gruber’s permission to rejoin the Society. He also enquired him about the situation of the other Fathers living in China and serving the Chinese Church, as well as about attempts done by Jesuits to enter China.

The Gothic Revival and the Architecture of the “New” Society of Jesus
in Macao and China

The Society of Jesus rose phoenix-like in the Middle Kingdom after the return of the Jesuits to their China mission in 1841. After a historical overview of the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portugal and Spain, this presentation considers a number of significant art-historical developments connected with the restoration of the Society in China. A first section discusses the vicissitudes that awaited the Jesuits after their return to Macao in 1862 and studies the fate of two of their most famous foundations in the Far East, the Church of St. Paul’s and the Church of St. Joseph. The following section examines two selected buildings, namely, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Beijing, and the Cathedral of Saint Ignatius, Xujiahui, Shanghai and how the European Gothic-revival influenced their plans and styles.


Profile on the Speakers

Paul BEGHEYN, SJ, is founder and director of the Netherlands Institute of Jesuit studies in Amsterdam, archivist of the Dutch Jesuits, and bibliographer of the Society of Jesus.

Yves CAMUS, SJ, 趙儀文 after completing post-graduate studies on Chinese Buddhism (1974), has supervised (1985-1998) the up-dated compilation of a Chinese-French dictionary, the Grand Dictionnaire Ricci de la Langue Chinoise in 7 volumes (300,000 entries, Paris, 2002). One of the Founding Members of the Institute, for two terms (1999-2007) as Associate Director, he has taken part in the conception and development of its research and cultural activities, especially as Director of Publication then Editor of the Chinese-English quarterly journal 神州交流—Chinese Cross Currents (2004-2012). He has recently been appointed Research Fellow of the Institute and coordinator of the English translation and publication project of the Acta Pekinensia, the official Jesuits records in Latin of the Maillard de Tournon papal legation (1704-1711) to the Court of Emperor Kangxi and related to issues of the Chinese Rites controversy. His main fields of research and interests are Chinese philosophical and spiritual traditions in modernity.

César GUILLÉN-NUÑEZ is Research Fellow at the Macau Ricci Institute and was also Book Review Editor of the Chinese Cross Currents quarterly. He has an MPhil. (University College London), an MA (Uni. of Penn.) and a BA Hons. (Courtauld Institute of Art), in the History of Art, with a specialization in Iberian and Latin American Baroque art and architecture, and has focused on the Jesuits as pioneers of the artistic East-West exchange. He was Assistant Curator of China Trade and Contemporary Art at the Hong Kong Museum of Art and held similar duties as Deputy and Acting Curator at the Luis de Camões Museum, Macao. His writings include, Macao’s Church of St. Paul: A Glimmer of the Baroque in China, Hong Kong University Press, 2009, and more recently, “The Portrait of Matteo Ricci”, Journal of Jesuit Studies, Vol. 1, issue 3, 2014, Brill Online Books and Journals, as well as “Rising from the Ashes: The Gothic Revival and the Architecture of the “New” Society of Jesus in China and Macao”, Brill, (forthcoming).

LIU Jingjing is assistant researcher of the Macau Ricci Institute. She got her PhD from Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her academic interests are history of Christianity in China and inter-religious dialogue. She has published extensively on the history of Chinese Christianity and Sino-Western intellectual exchange. Her recent publications are Ascent to Beijing: following Matteo Ricci’s footsteps (book chapter) (Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2012) and “Religion and general education-Reflection on Jesuits’ educational principles and its practices in China”. (Sichuan University Press, 2013)

Artur K. WARDEGA, SJ, 萬德化 is director of the Macau Ricci Institute and a specialist in 20th-century Chinese and French literature. He has written several articles published in the Macau Ricci Institute’s quarterly 神州交流 Chinese Cross Currents and in scholarly journals in China and abroad. His recent publications include a French translation of the novel 笠山農場 Lishan Nongchang by the renowned Hakka writer 鍾理和 Zhong Lihe (1915–60) under the title La Ferme de la Montagne Li (Arras, 2010). Recently he edited, Doubt, Time and Violence in Philosophical and Cultural Thought: Sino-Western Interpretations and Analysis, and together with António V. de Saldanha he edited, In the Light and Shadow of an Emperor: Tomás Pereira, S.J., the Kangxi Emperor and the Jesuit Mission in China, both published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2012), and Portrait of a Jesuit: Alessandro Valignano, MRI Jesuítas Publication Series (Macau, 2013).