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Christian Wolfgang Herdtrich

An Austrian Jesuit missionary in China; b. at Graz, Styria, June 25, 1625; d. July 18, 1684

Herdtrich, CHRISTIAN WOLFGANG (according to Franco, CHRISTIANUS HENRIQUES; Chinese, NGEN), an Austrian Jesuit missionary in China; b. at Graz, Styria, June 25, 1625; d. July 18, 1684. He entered the Austrian province of the Society of Jesus on October 27, 1641, and in 1656 was chosen for the Chinese mission. For two years he labored on the island of Celebes, and after 1660 was in the Chinese provinces of Shan-si and Ho-nan. In 1671 he was called to the Court of Peking as mathematician, and was one of that group of scholarly Jesuits with whom the great emperor Kang-he surrounded himself. He possessed a profound knowledge of the Chinese language and literature, and was a collaborator in the great work: “Confucius, Sinarum Philosophus, sive Scientia Sinensis latine exposita studio et opera Prosperi Intorcetta, Christiani Herdtrich, Francisci Rougemont, Philippi Couplet, PP. Soc. Jesu” (Paris, 1778). This earliest translation and elucidation gave European scholars their first insight into the teachings of the Chinese sage. Herdtrich was also the author of a large Chinese-Latin dictionary (Wentse-Ko), probably one of the first of its kind. The last nine years of his life were spent as superior of the mission of Kiangtcheon, province of Shan-si. Emperor Kang-hi himself composed his epitaph (cf. “Welt-Bott”, Augsburg, 1726, Nos. 16, 49).

A. HUONDER


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