Matteo Ricci stamp

A well-known Jesuit missionary to China’s cause for sainthood was advanced today with the closing of the local phase of study. Matteo Ricci’s cause for sanctity is now moved to the Holy See. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints —the office at the Holy See deputed to study the documentation for those proposed for sainthood— was requested to beatify Italian Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect, and his staff of scholars and outside experts, will now pour over lots of documentation.

By the time Ricci entered the Society of Jesus in 1571, the founder, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was dead since 1556. The Jesuits gave Ricci an exceptional education in philosophy,  theology, mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy. In 1578, his Jesuit superiors missioned Ricci to the East Asian mission, and then in 1580 the Jesuit superior Father Alessandro Valignani  sent him to the East Indies the idea of going to China.

Claudio GiuliodoriThe announcement that the diocesan stage was closed was made by the former bishop of the diocese where Matteo Ricci was born. Bishop emeritus Claudio Giuliodori of the Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia and now the General Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, said today as the formal diocesan process closed.

The 16th century Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was favored by Benedict XVI and he’s been mentioned a few times by Pope Francis as a model for evangelization. Ricci was sent by his Jesuit superiors to Asia, namely China to bring the gospel.

His Holiness notably spoke of Father Ricci in his address with the Jesuits who serve as editors to the well-known journal, La Civiltà earlier in 2013 where he reflected on the notion of seeking God in all things with a particular openness to the truth, goodness and beauty of God.

In November, the Pope said of Ricci: “We must always ask forgiveness and look with shame upon the apostolic failures brought about by a lack of courage. I am thinking, for example, of the pioneering intuitions of Matteo Ricci which, at the time, were abandoned.”

No pontiff, though, has spoken with force about the positive work in evangelization than Pope Benedict XVI. See these previous blog posts here, here AND here.

Father Ricci brought with him his mathematical and astronomical training to China and studied the Chinese language, literature, history, and culture which earned him accolades from the Emperor as a scholar. Ricci faced criticism from European Jesuit and Church superiors for what was perceived as a deviation in standard modalities of evangelization.