Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Christian Wolfgang Herdtrich

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 7
Christian Wolfgang Herdtrich

by Anthony Huonder


(According to Franco, Christianus Henriques; Chinese, Ngen).

An Austrian Jesuit missionary in China; born at Graz, Styria, 25 June, 1625; d. 18 July, 1684. He entered the Austrian province of the Society of Jesus on 27 October, 1641, and in 1656 was chosen for the Chinese mission. For two years he laboured 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 professed a profound knowledge of the Chinese language and literature, and was a collaborator in the great work: "Confucius, Sinarium Philosophus, sive Scientia Sinensis latina exposito studio et operâ Properi 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 Kiang-tcheon, province of Shan-si. Emperor Kang-hi himself composed his epitaph (cf. "Welt-Bott", Augsburg, 1726, Nos. 16, 49).

Huonder, Deutsche Jesuitenmissionäire (Freiburg im Br., 1899), 188; Dahlmann, Die Sprachenkunde und de Missionen (Freiburg im Br., 1891), 32-37; Hazart-Sontermann, Kirchengesch., I (Vienna and Munich, 1707), 706 sqq. Letters of Herdritch may be found in: Intorcetta, Compendiosa Narratione della Missione Cinense (Rome, 1672), 115-128; Greslon, Histoire de la Chine sous la domination des Tartares (Partis, 1670), 56; Kathol. Missionen (Freiburg im Br.) for 1901-02, pp. 25 sqq.; 1905-05, pp. 4 sqq.

A. HUONDER