New statue celebrates Chinese heritage

By Alex Buettgen ’22

A few weeks ago, a new statue was placed outside of the Agee building. Many people were curious as to why a new statue was being added, who is the statue of, and what does it have to do with Strake Jesuit. 

The statue is of Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit who helped pioneer a mission to establish Catholicism eastward into the primarily Buddhist nation of China. He helped establish many Jesuit missionaries in China and introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia.  Ricci aimed to adapt to the Chinese customs to be more trusted, primarily by dressing in the clothing of a Chinese Mandarin. In 1601 Ricci was called to meet with Emperor K’ang-Hsi in Peking. He was the first western missionary so invited. For nine years Ricci and other Jesuits spoke with members of the Chinese Mandarin class. In these dialogues Ricci sought to build a Chinese-Christian civilization. By the time he died in 1610, Ricci left behind 2,500 Chinese Catholics, with many in the educated classes. 

The Ricci statue was introduced to honor the Chinese heritage that is present throughout our school. The statue was unveiled by Father Johnson on Chinese New Year, which was followed by a celebration and performance among the Madarin students. Ricci’s attire in the statue is that of a Confucian Mandarin in the Chinese Middle Kingdom era, providing a nice nod to Ricci’s spectacular legacy as a fantastic Chinese Jesuit missionary.

Overall, the addition of the statue is meaningful, showing the diversity Strake Jesuit has and the acceptance of everyone as well as honoring the legacy of a great Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci.