Contando i martiri in Cina. La controversia sul martirio in uno spazio missionario globale

Autore: Michela Catto
In: Storicamente. 18 (2022)

It was not difficult for a foreigner in China to get killed. China was the country that resembled Ancient Pagan Europe most closely and thus it was the perfect place for martyrs. Nevertheless, among the many Jesuits who suffered persecution, tribulation, imprisonment and torture, few of them suffered death for hatred of their religion. Such an absence became a matter for disputation among the religious orders over the Chinese Rites. If bloodshed was a requisite for the spread of Christianity, the lack of martyrs of the Society of Jesus was proof that the type of Christianity they preached in China was not the true faith, but an adapted and compromised version. Among the first observers of this peculiar absence of Jesuit martyrs in China was Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659), one of the main opponents of the Jesuit method adopted in China. In his writings, the absence of Jesuit martyrs became the confirmation that the adaptation practised by the Jesuits had denied the Christian message its most subversive power and witness to the faith.