Global Patio The Last Supper of Jesus Christ in China


Global Patio The Last Supper of Jesus Christ in China

That. In the 16th century, an Italian missionary brought the first religious paintings to China. Local artists began to adapt the great scenes of Christianity to Chinese culture.

Because. This trend disappeared with Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, when many of these works were burned and the Communist Party extended its control to Catholics. Still today millions of faithful reject the vigilance of Beijing.

It was an Italian Jesuit missionary named Matteo Ricci who pioneered bringing religious paintings to China in 1583. Ricci, also a mathematician and cartographer, one of the great scholars of his time, became a bridge between the West and the Asian giant, moving above all books and art, during the years of the Ming dynasty. The oldest images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that crossed the pond to the East at the hands of the missionary ended up fattening the collection of an ink merchant, Cheng Dayue, who made a catalog that would later become one of the sources of inspiration for generations of local artists determined to fuse styles, endowing traditional Christian works with particular Chinese details.

For example, the characters in the 17th-century copper engravings of the Spanish Jesuit Jerónimo Nadal retained Western features such as curly hair, large noses, and deep-set eyes, but the clothing and accessories were Chinese. A celebrity in mixing styles was the painter Chen Yuandu, also known as Luke Chen, professor of Fine Arts at the now extinct Fu Jen Catholic University, founded at the request of Pope Pius XI in Beijing in 1925, who at the beginning of the last century gave a I step further using brush and ink techniques from traditional Chinese paintings to produce Biblical scenes.

Chen adapted several portraits of the Virgin with Chinese ink, as well as the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem or the last supper. Among his disciples, Wang Suda stood out, who also reinterpreted the famous Da Vinci mural in the traditional style of his country, presenting a table, stools, crockery, windows, lanterns and clothes from China. In another painting, he presented the Virgin as an empress of the Ming dynasty, wearing a crown engraved with a dragon and a phoenix, symbols reserved only for the emperor.

This artistic trend disappeared when Mao Zedong's communist army won the civil war against the nationalists and proclaimed the People's Republic of China in 1949. During the subsequent Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, many of the works were burned and Christians persecuted. .

In those years the Catholic Patriotic Association was established. It is the institution that dictates that, in order to freely embrace the Catholic faith, homage should not be paid to the Pope, but to the ruling Communist Party, the only one with the power to appoint bishops. The first elected by Beijing, in 1958, was Dong Guangqing, a Franciscan from Wuhan. Although this appointment did not please the then Pope Pius XII, who sent a protest letter to Beijing: "This Patriotic Association wants Catholics to progressively adhere to the falsehoods of atheistic materialism, with which God is denied and they reject all supernatural principles".

In the China of 2023, there are officially around 12 million Christians. Although, in hiding, there are millions more faithful who do not accept control of Beijing and who celebrate their liturgies in churches not recognized by the Chinese regime. In the entire country there are only 138 dioceses led by 79 bishops elected by the Patriotic Association. But five years ago, the Vatican signed a historic agreement, renewed last October, by which the Holy See recognized some of these communist-selected bishops.

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