April 27 – His artillery instructions saved Goa

April 25, 2024

Giacomo Rho

Imperial Obsrvatory in Beijing, China

Missionary, born at Milan, 1593; died at Peking 27 April, 1638. He was the son of a noble and learned jurist, and at the age of twenty entered the Society of Jesus. While poor success attended his early studies, he was later very proficient in mathematics. After his ordination at Rome by Cardinal Bellarmine, he sailed in 1617 for the Far East with forty-four companions. After a brief stay at Goa he proceeded to Macao where, during the siege of that city by the Dutch, he taught the inhabitants the use of artillery and thus brought about its deliverance. This service opened China to him. He rapidly acquired the knowledge of the native language and was summoned in 1631 by the emperor to Peking for the reform of the Chinese calendar. With Father Schall he worked to the end of his life at this difficult task. When he died, amidst circumstances exceptionally favourable to the Catholic mission, numerous Chinese officials attended his funeral. He left works relative to the correction of the Chinese calendar, to astronomical and theological questions.

DE BACKER-SOMMERVOGEL, Biblioth. de la Comp. de Jésus, VI (9 vols., Brussels and Paris, 1890-1900), 1709-11; HUC, Christianity in China, Tartary and Thibet, II (tr. New York, 1884), 265-66.

N. A. WEBER (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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