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Alexander Valignani (Fan Lian)

Alexander Valignani (1538-1606), an Italian missionary, had made great contributions to the initial development of Roman Catholicism in China.

In the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as the Portuguese helped the Guangzhou authorities crack down on pirates, they were permitted to live and missionize in Macao. And all the foreign missionaries asked the Chinese believers to learn Portuguese, to get Portuguese names and to adopt the Portuguese lifestyle.

But Alexander Valignani, the Society of Jesus' inspector in the Fareast, thought that this did not conform to the religious principle. He believed that the missionaries should adapt themselves to the customs in China, instead of asking the believers to adapt to the missionaries to facilitate the development of Roman Catholicism in China. So he asked all the missionaries to learn the Chinese language and get accustomed to the Chinese customs.

Although he could not enter the Chinese mainland as the Ming government forbid foreign missionaries from entering, his idea had a great influence on the development of Roman Catholicism in China.

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