Historiography of the Chinese Catholic Church: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Article excerpt

Edited by Jeroom Heyndrickx, C.I.C.M. Louvain: Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation, 1994. Pp. 510. BF 1,400.

With this volume the Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation, located at the Flemish-language segment of what was once Louvain University in Belgium, has grandly launched its series Louvain Chinese Studies. The foundation's research program focuses on "the history of relations between the Low Countries and China" and, within that scope, focuses on the missionary enterprise in China (p. 5). This book ranges more widely, however. It publishes papers from a conference of 1990 and reports on projects touching Catholic missionaries from several European countries as well as North America. It also calls for more work presenting the circumstances and perspectives of Chinese Catholics and manages to include some examples. (Franqoise Aubin shows, in her fascinating account of Catholic practice from the point of view of Chinese believers, what can be gleaned anthropologically from European ecclesiastical archives.)

Merely to list the fifty articles of the volume would tax the space limits of this review. Perhaps the book is best considered a sort of encyclopedia on its topic, offering capsule histories of the modern mission experience in China of a number of Catholic missionary orders and societies, as well as selected topical essays on the experience of some Chinese Catholics. …