Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Vision Betrayed: The Jesuits in Japan and China, 1542-1742

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Vision Betrayed: The Jesuits in Japan and China, 1542-1742

Article excerpt

A Vision Betrayed: The Jesuts in Japan and China, 1542-1742. By Andrew C. Ross. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. 1994. Pp. w, 216. $34.95.)

Based principally on selected English-language secondary literature, this attempt at a "synoptic history" offers some insights about the Jesuit mission in Japan and China from the time of St. Francis Xavier to the 1742 papal bull ex quo singulari condemning the Chinese Rites. Andrew Ross, a senior lecturer on the history of missions at the University of Edinburgh, opens with the premise that "many scholars," including Nigel Cameron and Joseph Needham, have so focused on Matto Ricci (1552-1610) that they have not asked how he ever came "to be in China at all Ross emphasizes that it was Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606) who shaped developments in Japan "within certain limits" set by those who were there after Xavier had founded the mission in 1549. He adds that with the same vision of developing an indigenous Church, Valignano initiated the China mission while Ricci, "the perfect instrument: carried out and developed the program.

The opening chapter on Japan and China before the Iberian expansion is followed by separate chapters on Xavier and on Valignano. Ross holds as "certain" that Xavier planned a Jesuit mission to Japan to be "outwith [sic] the bounds of the Padroado." Such a view fails to recognize that in June, 1549, Xavier was indebted to the Portuguese as he asked the king of Portugal to repay the Portuguese merchant who had proded for the passage of Xavier and his companions and had bought the gifts that Xavier was to present to the emperor of Japan. The two chapters on the Japan mission until the mid-seventeenth century benefited from the research of Georg Schuhammer, Josef P. …

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