Pope Francis puts Matteo Ricci on path to sainthood

By Gerard O’Connell, 20 January 2023
A portrait of 16th-century Italian Jesuit missionary to China Matteo Ricci. Image: Wikimedia Commons


Recognizing that Matteo Ricci “lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree,” Pope Francis has officially put the famous 16th-century Italian Jesuit missionary to China on the path to sainthood.

On Dec. 17, the Vatican announced that the pope has authorized Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of the Saints, to promulgate a degree recognizing “the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Matteo Ricci, a professed priest of the Society of Jesus, [who was] born at Macerata, Italy, on Oct. 6, 1552, and died in Peking [now Beijing], China, on May 11, 1610.”

Pope Francis is known to be inspired by Father Ricci, and the decree comes on the pope’s 86th birthday. The Vatican’s announcement is also an important one for the Catholic Church in China and its 12 million members.

In a meeting last May with a delegation from the University of Macerata, Pope Francis described Father Ricci as a “champion” of the “culture of dialogue.” He said, the Jesuit missionary is famed not only for his actions and his writings, but for being “a man of encounters, who went beyond being a foreigner and became a citizen of the world.”

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Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.

With thanks to America Magazine and Gerard O’Connell, where this article originally appeared.


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