Get access

The Complexities of a New Faith: Xu Guangqi's Acceptance of Christianity


  • Yu Liu

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Yu Liu is a professor of English at Niagara County Community College in upstate New York, USA. The recipient of a 2006–2007 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a 2012–2013 Fulbright lecturing-research fellowship at the City University of Hong Kong, he is also the author of Poetics and Politics: The Revolutions of Wordsworth (1999) and Seeds of a Different Eden: Chinese Gardening Ideas and a New English Aesthetic Ideal (2008).


Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) was one of the most important early Chinese Catholics closely associated with Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), the legendary founder of the Jesuit China mission. In spite of his widespread fame since the seventeenth century, the precise nature of his religious experience has not so far been adequately investigated. To understand his complex relationship with Christianity and thereby gain insight into the fateful East–West intellectual interaction in the early modern period, this article closely probes various aspects of Xu's spiritual journey including his family history, his reception of baptism, and his association with Jesuit missionaries both before and after his conversion, and the particular character of his Catholic faith.

Get access to the full text of this article