the Court of Peking, «one astronomer capable of correcting with certainty the astronomical errors of the Chinese and so earn for the missionaries the necessary authority for the ministry as Masters of Religion». The wishes of the illustrious sinologue were suitably complied with and the knowledge of the mathematicians and astronomers and geographers who came to the Court of Peking was something new in the eyes of the astute Emperor. Thus it was not long before Wan-Li was conferring distinctions upon these scholars from the West. Nothing was too good for them: land and money for churches and colleges were heaped upon them and the highest honours were given to the priests, not only in their lifetime but posthumously.

For instance, upon the death of Ricci in 1610, Emperor Wan Li allotted the land, north of Peking city, now known as the Cemetery of Chala, within the extensive grounds of the imperial estates, and now forming part of the beautiful and well-kept grounds of the Provincial House of the Lazarist Mission, and of the College of the Marists Brothers. Among the tombstones erected in the Cemetery of Chala is one in marble, over Father Ricci's tomb, presented by the Chinese Emperor with an inscription traced from the Emperor's own calligraphy. This tombstone survived the vandalism of the Chinese fanatics of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Within this cemetery now stands a chapel dedicated as a memorial to the Catholic priests who suffered martyrdom in that Rebellion, and round the walls of the chapel can be read the names of all these martyrs. Also buried in Chala are famous missionaries like Fathers Verbiest, Francisco Cardoso, Caetano Pires (Bishop of the Lazarist Mission), Gabriel de Magalhães, Antonio de Magalhães, Nicolas Longobardi, Thomas Pereira, Alexandre de Gouvea (Bishop of the Lazarists), João Schall von Bell, Augustine de Hallerstein, Felix da Rocha, André Pereira, and, among many others who made their mark, several Macao-born priests of the Jesuit Order.

The mention of these great names brings to mind the fact that the mathematicians and other scientists sent to China by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus included priests who would have been recognised as astronomers of the first rank even in Europe at the time. Father Adão Schall von Bell, a German, and his Portuguese colleagues, Fathers Gabriel de Magalhães and Manoel