Item #1457 L’etat present de l’Eglise de la Chine, Adressé a Monseigneur a l’Eceque de ***. Attributed to, Antoine Thomas.
L’etat present de l’Eglise de la Chine, Adressé a Monseigneur a l’Eceque de ***.
Important Work Related to the Chinese Rites Controversy

L’etat present de l’Eglise de la Chine, Adressé a Monseigneur a l’Eceque de ***.

[S.l.]: [S.n.], [n.d. but 1709]. First edition. In contemporary leather. Gilt spine with red title label. Edges of the panels gilt. Marbled endpapers. Tinted edges. (12), 308 p. Old collection stamp on title page. Binding rubbed, corners bumped. Small damage to front panels lower right corner. Otherwise in fine condition.

Scarce publication related to the endgame of the Chinese Rites Controversy.

Antoine Thomas (adopted the Chinese name of Ngan To P’Ing-Che; 1644–1709), was a Belgian Jesuit priest, missionary, and astronomer at the imperial court of China. He was the Superior of the Jesuits in China when the Chinese rites were banned by the Papal Legate. Thomas arrived in China as a Jesuit missionary in 1685, and due to his expertise in mathematics, he soon gained important posts in the court which led him to become a close adviser to the Kangxi Emperor. As such he obtained an edict of tolerance from the Chinese ruler in 1692, that gave to the missionaries almost complete freedom to preach Christianity.

Meanwhile the dispute among the Roman Catholic missionaries, the so-called Chinese Rites Controversy was raging. The Jesuits argued that the Chinese rituals and Confucianism were secular customs, thus should be tolerated, the Dominicans and the Franciscans disagreed and urged Rome to condemn and ban these rites. In 1705 Pope Clement XI sent Charles Thomas Maillard de Tournon, as a papal legate to China. In 1707 Tournon issued a decree to communicate the prohibition of Chinese rites. Tournon’s book about the matter “Memoires pour Rome, sur l’état de la Religion Chrétienne dans la Chine, avec le décret de Notre S.P. le Pape Clément XI. sur l'affaire des cultes chinois” was published in 1709 and immediately a reply, attributed to Antoine Thomas, the present polemical work, was issued too. This was Thomas’ last attempt to turn Rome’s opinion, before his death in the same year.

Despite Thomas’ prompt reply and his work’s Italian and abridged English translations of the same year, eventually, the Pope favored Tournon’s side and issued a bull, which officially condemned the Chinese rites in 1715. As a response, Kangxi Emperor revoked his edict of tolerance in 1717 and in 1721 the Christian missionaries were expelled from China.


Price: €4,000.00