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Louis Buglio

Missionary in China, mathematician, and theologian, b. at Mineo, Sicily, January 26, 1606; d. at Peking, October 7, 1682

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Buglio, Louis, a celebrated missionary in China, mathematician, and theologian, b. at Mineo, Sicily, January 26, 1606; d. at Peking, October 7, 1682. He entered the Society of Jesus, January 29, 1622, and, after a brilliant career as professor of the humanities and rhetoric in the Roman College, asked to be sent on the Chinese mission. With great zeal and success Father Buglio preached the Gospel in the provinces of Su-Tchuen, Fu-kien, and Kiang-si. He suffered severely for the Faith in the persecution which was carried on during the minority of the Emperor Kang-hi. Taken prisoner by one of the victorious Tatar chiefs, he was brought to Peking in 1648. Here, after a short captivity, he was left free to exercise his ministry. Father Buglio collaborated with Fathers Adam Schall, Verbiest, and Magalhaens in reforming the Chinese calendar, and shared with them the confidence and esteem of the emperor. At his death he was given a state funeral.

Thoroughly acquainted with the Chinese language, Father Buglio both spoke and wrote it fluently. A list of his works in Chinese, more than eighty volumes, written for the most part to explain and defend the Christian religion, is given in Sommervogel. Besides Parts I and III of the “Summa” of St. Thomas, he translated into Chinese the Roman Missal (Peking, 1670) the Breviary and the Ritual (ibid., 1674 and 1675). These translations require a special notice, as they were part of a project which, from the beginning of their apostolate in China, the Jesuit missionaries were anxious to carry out. Their purpose was not merely to form a native clergy, but, in order to accomplish this more easily, to introduce a special liturgy in the Chinese tongue for the use at least of native priests. This plan was approved by Pope Paul V, who, March 26, 1615, granted to regularly ordained Chinese priests the faculty of using their own language in the liturgy and administration of the sacraments. This faculty was never used. Father Philip Couplet, in 1681, tried to obtain a renewal of it from Rome, but was not successful.


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