Jesuit missionary to China and explorer; b. Linz (Austria), Oct. 28, 1623; d. Sárospatak, Hungary, Sept. 30, 1680. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1641 and was sent to China in 1656. There, his knowledge of mathematics brought Grueber to the court in Beijing as an assistant to Father Johann Adam schall von bell. In 1661, Grueber was commissioned to go to Rome to explain the extent to which Schall's scientific work as chief of the Bureau of Mathematics and Astronomy involved his cooperating with superstitious attitudes of the Chinese. Since the Dutch were blockading Macau, Grueber boldly set out overland from West China through Kokonor, Tibet, and Nepal to India. His companion on the journey, the Belgian Jesuit Albert D'Orville, died at Agra from the rigors of the trip. News that Grueber had traversed Tibet and the mountain passes of the Himalayas caused a sensation in Europe and gave rise to hopes for an all-land route to the Orient. However, Grueber's accounts of Lhasa and the Himalayas seem to have been quite colorless, and his reports concerning the work and manner of life of Schall were considered severe and unsympathetic. In 1664, Grueber tried without success to return overland to China through Russia. It is known that Grueber took sick and returned to Florence, but his later life is clouded in obscurity.
Bibliography: c. wessels, Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia (The Hague 1924) 164–204. l. pfister, Notices biographiques et biographiques sur les Jésuites de l'ancienne mission de Chine 1552–1773 (Shanghai 1932–34) 1:319–322.
[j. h. campana]