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Fridelli, Xaver Ehrenbert (Friedel)


China missionary and cartographer; b. Linz, Austria, March 11, 1673; d. Peking, June 4, 1743. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1688 and sailed for China in 1704. A skilled mathematician, he was one of the six to eight Jesuits who, working in groups of two and three, began in 1717 to map the Chinese Empire at the command of the Emperor. Because of the growing distrust of foreigners, the mandarin assistants served more as guards than advisers. Since the Jesuits were not permitted to enter Tibet or Korea, or go near the borders of Russia, they had to accept the information gathered by natives whom they trained for the task. In 1718 the huge map was presented to the Emperor, and later it was reproduced from 48 engraved plates. The work of the Jesuits remained the only reliable map of China until well into the 19th century. In 1720 Fridelli established a school, of which he was rector for six years, and in 1721 he opened St. Joseph's Church in Peking. His missionary work falls within the period of Christian persecution under Emperor Yum Tsching when his diplomacy, high esteem at court, and reputation for scholarship did much to soften the persecution.

Bibliography: c. w. allan, Jesuits at the Court of Peking (Shanghai 1935) 222. a. zerlik, Neue deutsche Biographie 5 (Berlin 1961): 436.

[m. b. martin]

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