The Legacy of Matteo Ricci


Georgetown University collaborated with Xavier House Spiritual Formation Centre in Hong Kong, in a four-day symposium on inculturation, December, 2010.  The three hundred participants at the Ricci Legacy Symposium – about 100 from mainland China – heard 10 international experts, including Georgetown’s Fr. Howard Gray, SJ, reflect on cultural adaptation of the gospel and Ignatian Spirituality.

Georgetown commissioned videotaping of the proceedings.  Watch selected segments below.

Georgetown’s partnership with The Ricci Legacy Symposium reflects several of our university’s priorities, including inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and cooperation with China today.

Biography of Matteo Ricci

Matteo Ricci was an Italian Jesuit who lived in the second half of the 16th century, and who is known today for the way he attempted to communicate the Christian gospel in China. Rather than preaching a foreign religion to the Chinese people, he established common ground with them by mastering their language and absorbing their customs. He won their respect through his knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and cartography, and his extraordinary demonstrations of memory. When interpreting Christian teaching to them, he found common values in their classic literature and in Confucianism. His methods became controversial among Jesuits and in the official Church.

Today Ricci’s legacy of inculturation is strong. The importance of respecting the unique ways in which diverse cultures understand and express their spiritual experience, even while preaching a common core belief, is no longer disputed.

The Videos


Introductory video to the series (2:49)


Christianity in China before Ricci (6.33)
Robert Ng, SJ, traces the unsuccessful efforts of European missionaries to evangelize China in the thousand years before the Jesuits arrived.

Matteo Ricci in China(15:34)
Robert Ng, SJ, examines the efforts Matteo Ricci took to learn Chinese culture and adapt Christian teaching to it.

Ricci and Xavier on Unity and Diversity (3:17)
Benoit Vermander, SJ, reflects on “oneness” and “difference” in the thinking of Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci.

Jesuit Internal Conflicts Regarding China( 5:11)
Stephen Tong, SJ points out the resistance Matteo Ricci and his predecessor, Michele Ruggieri, receive in the Jesuit community of Macau.


Ricci: A Model for Today (3:17)
Robert Ng, SJ, and Howard Gray, SJ,  respond to the question, “What if Ricci were alive today?

Tensions in Liturgical Inculturation (3:34)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, responds to a question about inculturation of liturgy today.


Inculturation of the Gospel in India(10:21)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, discusses inculturation as experienced in India today.

Christianity in Jamaica: Collision of Cultures (8:23)
Peter McIsaac, SJ, describes the emergence of a unique culture of Christianity in Jamaica.

Inculturation in Jamaica Today (9:21)
Peter McIsaac, SJ, describes the dialogue the Catholic Church in Jamaica undertakes with mainstream Protestants, Evangelicals, Rastifarians, and unchurched urban poor.


The Spiritual Exercises and Buddha(13:27)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, gives a workshop on common ground between Buddhism and Ignatian spirituality.

Yoga and Zen in a Christian Context(5:24)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, responds to the question, are Yoga and Zen compatible with Christian practice?

Freedom from Desire in Buddhism(3:00)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, Workshop Q&A

The Quality of Mercy in Buddhism and Christianity(2:14)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, Workshop Q&A

Buddhism as a Path to God (3:30)
Michael Amaladoss, SJ, Workshop Q&A

The Spiritual Exercises and Adaptation (6:40)
Howard Gray, SJ, discusses freedom to adapt the Spiritual Exercises

The Spiritual Exercises and Chinese Sensibility(7:10)
Johanna Chao leads a meditation on “Reciprocal Becoming”


Panelist Reactions to the Symposium(4:54)
Various panelists speak of their reactions to the symposium.

Participant Reactions to the Symposium(5:02)
Some participants give reactions and ask questions of the panelists.

McIsaac and Amaladoss on Adaptation to Chinese Culture(1:43)

Gray on Hospitality(2:55)

Amaladoss on Relaunching Ricci Legacy in China(2:34)

Miles on Assimilation vs. Inculturation(1:58)

Vermander on Spiritual Paths(18:00)