The statues of Jesuit missionary Venerable Matteo Ricci and his friend, Paul Xu Guangqi, were blessed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, at the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni in Macerata, Italy, on May 9, Vatican News reported.
The statues are gifts from the faithful from Beijing and Shanghai to the people of Father Ricci’s hometown. The words “A gift from Chinese Catholics, friends of Father Matteo Ricci, 2022” are engraved on the bases of the statues.
Cardinal Parolin presided over the Mass and officiated the unveiling and blessing ceremony. The statues were installed in niches on the façade of the church on May 9.
Matteo Ricci and Paolo Xu Guanqi “belonged to distant and very different cultures,” said Cardinal Parolin in his homily, noting that they met in friendship and generated social friendship, not pretending to be equals but drawing closer in mutual esteem, AsiaNews reported on May 11.
“Matteo Ricci was strong, humble, unarmed and courageous,” he said.
“He was a great patriot, that is, he wanted the good of his people. At the same time, he was a convinced believer with an exemplary Christian life. Father Matthew and Dr Paul with their friendship gave China the priceless gift of the gospel,” said Cardinal Parolin.
Professor Rachel Zhu Xiaohong from Shanghai, who worked hard to raise funds for Xu Guangqi’s statue and also actively cooperated with many scholars and Xu’s descendants to conduct research on him in the Ming Dynasty, attended the event via video link.
Encouraged by Venerable Ricci, Xu was baptized in 1603. He was a Chinese agronomist, astronomer, mathematician and a devoted collaborator of Venerable Ricci who assisted in the translation of several classic Western texts into Chinese, including Euclid’s Elements. – Sunday Examiner