|Ganzhoutang Xia Xianggong shengming Madiya hui Fang laoye shu 贛州堂夏相公聖名瑪第亞回方老爺書 / [Xia Madiya zhu 夏瑪第亞著].|
JapSin I, (38/42) 39/1
Ganzhou tang Xia xianggong shengming Madiya hui Fang laoye
By Mathias Xia 夏瑪第亞.
Manuscript, one volume. Chinese bamboo paper. Three folios. 24 x 13 cm.
The covers bears the title and a Latin inscription: “de aedibus | quae | erigitur viris in | memoriam | auctore Hia Mathia | de Kancheu in | Kiamsi.”
We do not know the Chinese name or zi of the xianggong Xia. He was known to the missioners by his Christian name, Mathias. Xianggong was a common form of address for lay brothers or for catechists who served in the church. A note on f. 171 of Jap-Sin I, (38/42) 40/102, mentions that Xia was “Bacharel de Kien cheu que mora na Igra de Cán cheu.” Bacharel is the term used by the early missioners for a xiucai 秀才; Kien cheu [建州] probably refers to Jianning 建寧 prefecture in Fujian or to Jianchang 建昌 prefecture in Jiangxi.
Since the note in Portuguese says that Xia lived at the church of Can cheu (Ganzhou 贛州), it seems quite certain that this old scholar was a catechist. Fang laoye, to whom this letter is addressed, is Francesco Saverio Filippucci (1632–1692), whose Chinese name was Fang Jige 濟各 (zi 以智). Twice he had been Provincial of Japan: from December 1680 to December 1683, and from 1690 to 6 January 1692; he has also been Visitor of China and Japan (1688–1691).
The letter is a reply to Filippucci’s request for the history of the shengci 生祠 (shrines in honour of a living person). Xia excuses himself for not being able to say very much because he has lost all his books in the civil war. All he could do, was to do his best to write what he knows about the subject. He mentions the shrine built in honor of the notorious Ming eunuch Wei Zhongxian 魏忠賢 (fl. 1624) and he quotes as his authority the Mingchao tongji 明朝通紀.
In the later part of his letter Xia severely criticizes Buddhism and Daoism. He praises Ricci highly as the only hero who dared to challenge the Buddhists. He eagerly requests Filippucci to write a book in refutation of Buddhism or, failing this, to write to Verbiest in Beijing and let the latter prepare a memorial to the throne to expose the iniquities of the Buddhists with the hope that Buddhism will be abolished in China.
There is no date in this letter, but from the Shengci yuanyou ce 生祠緣由冊 (Jap-Sin I, 39/2), at the end of which Xia gives the date of Kangxi 25 (1686), we can safely say that this letter must have been written shortly before 1686.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 39-40.