Pantoja’s original destination was Japan. He arrived in Macau in 1599, where Matteo Ricci had established a mission center for Nanjing and was planning another trip to Beijing. The Nanjing mission base needed help, so Pantoja’s mission destination was diverted to China. Pantoja first came to Nanjing and in 1600 accompanied Ricci to Beijing. This time Ricci succeeded in presenting his gifts to the emperor, Wan Li, of which the emperor most appreciated the clock and a Western musical instrument, which Ricci taught the court musician to play for him. Following the establishment of a mission center in Beijing, Pantoja helped Ricci in his work there, teaching new believers the doctrine of the church. In 1605 Pantoja started to preach in several villages, resulting in the baptism of about a dozen new members. The following year he baptized another 13 members. This was the beginning of the Catholic mission to reach the villages outside the city of Beijing.
Pantoja was masterful in the use of the Chinese language. In 1614 he published a doctrinal book, Seven Victories, to which the Chinese intelligentsia responded as favorably as they had toward Ricci’s book The Meaning of the Teaching of Heaven. Yang Ting Jun, a well-known Christian, and several non-Christian scholars wrote the preface for the book. In 1616, as a result of the accusation made by Chinese magistrate Shen Que against missionaries, Pantoja and three other missionaries were deported to Macau, where Pantoja died two years later.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
Mungello, D. E., The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (1994). Vath, Alfons, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, S.J. (1592-1666) (1991). Goodrich, L. Carrington, Dictionary of Ming Biography, 1386-1644 (1976).