Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - A solemn prayer vigil for the beatification of Venerable Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary known in China as Li Madou (Macerata, 6 October 1552 - Beijing, 11 May 1610), will be held today, in the evening on Monday, April 17, in Beijing Cathedral. Jesuit Stephen Chow, Bishop of Hong Kong and a confrere of Matteo Ricci, who began his visit to the Beijing archdiocese today, will also take part in the vigil.
Last December 17, on his 86th birthday, Pope Francis had authorized the proclamation of the heroic virtues of Matteo Ricci, who has since been declared "Venerable".
According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, the prayer prepared by the Diocese of Hong Kong to ask the Lord for the beatification of Venerable Father Matteo Ricci will be recited during the vigil. "Through his outstanding example, rekindle our missionary zeal so that we may learn to practise the Truth in love in our daily lives and lead others, especially our Chinese brothers and sisters, to know and love you".
The lay people of the church community of Beijing Cathedral, dedicated to the Most Holy Savior, participated intensely in the preparation of the vigil, including setting up an exhibition of pictures documenting the work of the great missionary. In the near future, a series of initiatives are in the works to revive the missionary spirit and work of Matteo Ricci. Among them, the project to establish an "itinerary/pilgrimage" in Matteo Ricci's footsteps in mainland China stands out. An itinerary that will not take the form of a simple "sightseeing tour," but will devoutly retrace an itinerary aimed at passing through all the significant places linked to Matteo Ricci's mission in China: from Zhaoqing (from 1589 to 1595 from bonzes to intellectuals) to Nanchang (where he was appointed superior of the mission and received orders to go to Beijing), to Nanjing (where he met Paul Xu Guangqi, one of his most important friends and benefactors, who received baptism from Matteo Ricci) until his arrival in Beijing, where he was buried.
During his stay in Beijing, Bishop Stephen Chow and other members of the Diocese of Hong Kong (including Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing and diocesan vicar Father Peter Choy Wai-man) will also visit Father Ricci's tomb. Bishop Chow's visit," stressed Fr. Matthew Zhen Xuebin, Chancellor of the Diocese of Beijing, "represents an opportunity for an 'exchange between the two local Churches.' Bishop Chow's visit to the Archdiocese of Beijing "will allow us to understand and learn from each other," concluded Fr. Matthew Zhen. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 17/4/2023)