1575  — 1620

Sabbatino de Ursis

Italian Jesuit missionary to China in the late Ming dynasty.

De Ursis arrived in Beijing in 1606 and learned Chinese from Matteo Ricci. At the time of de Ursis’s arrival in China, Ricci was transmitting Western science to the Chinese intelligentsia. Through Ricci’s introduction, de Ursis got to know many Chinese scholars and joined Ricci in introducing Western science to them.

In 1611 and 1612, two books on Western science which he introduced were published through the writing of Paul Xu Guang Qi: Jian Ping Yi Shuo and Tai Xi Shui Fa. In 1614 another book, Piao Du Shuo, through the pen of Zhou Zi Yu, was published. All of these books, including Xu Guang Qi’s Nong Zheng Quan Shu, were entered into the encyclopedia of Si Ku Quan Shu. De Ursis was opposed by traditionalists in China. In 1616, arising out of the complaint of Chinese magistrate Shen Que, de Ursis was one of four missionaries deported to Macau. He died there at age 46.


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.


  • Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of Christian Missions in China (1929). Vath, Alfons, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, S.J. (1592-1666) (1991).

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