VATICAN - A precious tool: The Catalogue of Chinese Documents in the Propaganda Fide Historical Archives

Monday, 8 July 2024

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - A precious and invaluable historical resource for everyone, the Church, academics, scholars included, is what the Catalogue of Chinese documents in the Propaganda Fide Historical Archives (1622-1830) represents, published on the occasion of the fourth centenary since the establishment of the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide by Pope Gregory XV, on June 22, 1622.

The Historical Archive of “De Propaganda Fide” is famous for its rich and important collection of documents in Chinese relating to Christianity in China between the 17th to the 19th century. They are unpublished texts and unknown to the outside world for various historical, technical and even bureaucratic reasons. Today, the publication of the Catalogue which also reproduces the full text of a few rare or unique Chinese Christian texts, together with letters and reports sent from Asia, from China to Propaganda, "provides immediate access to a rich collection of documents relating to Christianity in China between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, making them available to scholars and researchers who wish to investigate the history of the Church in China" - confirms in the Preface Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches of the Dicastery for Evangelization.

Promoted by the Pontifical Urbaniana University through its Center for Chinese Studies and the Sinology Department of the Catholic University of Louvain, published by PUU Press, the Catalogue is a work that "goes beyond academic research as it also testifies and gives value to the spirit that animated the history of the missionary journey of Propaganda Fide in the land and culture of China" – continues Cardinal Tagle. "The collection and cataloging of these documents today represents a precious tool for those who desire to delve into the culture and history of the missions in China. It is a story that involves concrete people, facts, and events, illuminating our present reality and helps us to reach the original purpose of Pope Gregory XV, namely, to spread the faith".

This long and patient work was written by Dr. Ad Dudink and edited by prof. Raini Emanuele, researcher in Chinese language and literature at L’Orientale University of Naples; Father Joseph Zhao Hongtao, Research Fellow at the PUU Centre for Chinese Studies and adjunct professor at PUU faculty of Missiology.

In the introductury essay, Prof. Eugenio Menegon defines "The Chinese documents catalogued here open a window on the daily life of the Chinese Christian communities and their pastors, and the reaction of Chinese society to Catholic activities".

It is also thanks to the Historical Archive of "De Propaganda Fide", a safe place for missionary testimony, that scholars and researchers from the academic world can study the mission of the Church in China. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 8/7/2024)