Father Ricci's scientific acumen and enthusiasm for cultural exchange that won the trust and admiration of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Wanli. The relationship ensured that he and his Jesuit brothers would have the freedom to evangelize, the show's organizers explained in a news conference at the Vatican Oct. 28.
A proficient cartographer, Father Ricci was perhaps most appreciated for the maps of the world he made for the Chinese, who at the time had little knowledge of the other continents, said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums and head curator of the exhibit.
The maps Father Ricci drew, as well as many of the European scientific instruments he brought to amaze and share with his Chinese hosts, are among the many items on view in the show.
"Matteo Ricci went to China and seduced the Chinese, offering himself as a man of science: a cartographer, an astronomer, a mathematician," and by bringing instruments like astrolabes and mechanized clocks, Paolucci said.
"He was honored and admired," immersing himself so much in Chinese culture that "he became more Chinese than the Chinese," Paolucci said.