[St. Pachomius Library]

The Chinese Mission of the Nestorian Church of the East


The Nestorian Church of the East twice launched missionary outreaches to China with considerable success. The first, begun in the VII Century by Alopen, reached its zenith in the following century when the celebrated Jingjing composed the Xian Fu inscription and possibly other Jesus Sutras. The Empress Wu, depicted as a sinister figure in Chinese history generally, was hostile to the Nestorians, and launched a persecution from which the first Church of the East mission never recovered; by 1100 it was reported that not a single Christian remained in China. However, the Mongol conquest changed this situation: the Mongols, although pagans, had close cultural and kinship ties to the Nestorian Uighurs of Central Asia, and permitted the Church of the East to send missionaries throughout their empire. This second flowering of Chinese Nestorianism was apparently larger than the first, but it seems to have produced no surviving literature. By the European "Age of Discovery", China was once again almost without any Christian presence, even an heretical one.

Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


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