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Books explain church's past in China, look to future challenges


These are the covers of "The Visitor: Andre Palmeiro and the Jesuits in Asia" by Liam Matthew Brockey and "Evangelization in China: Challenges and Prospects" by Kin Sheung Chiaretto Yan. The books are reviewed by Brian Welter. (CNS)

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"The Visitor: Andre Palmeiro and the Jesuits in Asia" by Liam Matthew Brockey. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2014). 528 pp., $39.95.

"Evangelization in China: Challenges and Prospects" by Kin Sheung Chiaretto Yan. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, New York, 2014). 178 pp., $30.

Taken together, these two books provide a clear introduction to Christianity in China, particularly from the 16th century onward.

"The Visitor," in fact, takes a much broader scope than China. Author Liam Matthew Brockey, an associate professor of history at Michigan State University, traces the career of Portuguese Jesuit Father Andre Palmeiro, as he rose through the academic ranks at the leading Portuguese Jesuit colleges before being sent overseas at the age of 49.

The author excels at situating the priest within his society and order and brings readers right into the thick of the action:

"On the orders of the count-bishop, the cathedral chapter arranged a citywide procession for the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. On that day in early June the prelate carried a monstrance draped with a black silk veil from the cathedral through the streets of Coimbra, up to the university and down nearly to the riverbank. 'More people than had ever been seen in the city' joined in the procession, forming a crowd so large that its front and back ends passed each other on the city's main thoroughfare," Brockey writes.

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