1889  — 1975

Henri Bernard-Maitre

Missionary and historian of Jesuit missions in China.

Born at Chalons-sur-Marne, France, Bernard (-Maitre added in 1948) became a Jesuit in 1908 and received a degree in mathematics. Having taught in Rheims, then in Amiens, in 1924 he was sent to become professor of mathematics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Tientsin (Tianjin), China. He worked actively as a missionary among the Chinese, but several articles he published from 1925 onward led to his assignment as a researcher and writer at Zikawei (Xujiahui), near Shanghai, in 1937 and then in Tientsin two years later.

From 1940 to 1947 he taught Chinese philosophy at Sienhsien (Xianxian), then at Tientsin. He established the Cathasia printing house to reprint the works of past missionaries such as Leon Wieger and Seraphim Couvreur. Returning to France in 1947, he spent 18 years in Paris and 10 at Chantilly. At the Institut Catholique in Paris he established the Institute of Religious Ethnology and Sociology. Besides several books, he wrote many articles about China in more than forty periodicals. Along with Joseph Dehergne, in 1974 he founded the Colloque International de Sinologie, which meets every three years at Chanlilly.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


Henri Bernard-Maitre, Aux portes de la Chine, les missionnaires du XVe siecle, 1514-1588 (1933), Matteo Ricci’s Scientific contribution to China (1935), and Le Pere Matthieu Ricci et la Societe chinoise de son temps (1552-1610), 2 vols. (1937). Hugues Beylard, “Bernard, Henri. Bernard-Maitre,” in Paul Duclos, ed., Dictionnaire du Monde Religieux dans la France Contemporaine (1985), p. 38; Joseph Dehergne, “Henri Bernard-Maitre, Choix d’articles et de livres sur l’Extreme-Orient,” Bulletin de l’Ecole francaise de l’Extreme-Orient 63 (1976): 467-479.

About the Author

John W. Witek

Associate Professor of East Asian History, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA