1639  — 1712

Philippus Maria Grimaldi

Italian Jesuit missionary who worked in the Qing government during the reign of Emperor Kangxi.

Grimaldi, who joined the Society of Jesus in 1657, arrived in Macau in 1659 and was consecrated a priest. In 1664, following the Tang Ruowang (Schall von Bell) Affair, all missionaries were confined in Guangzhou. A Dominican friar known by his Chinese name, Min Ming Wo, escaped in 1669. Grimaldi adopted his name and lived in the same house the Dominican had lived in before. Chinese history differentiates between the two by referring to the escapee as the “true Min Ming Wo” and Grimaldi as “the false Min Ming Wo.”

In 1671, Kangxi allowed missionaries to return to their respective places and also took into his service those with a good knowledge of calendrical science. Through Ferdinand Verbiest’s recommendation, Grimaldi was assigned to Beijing as his assistant and became his successor (even though he was out of the country) as director of the calendrical bureau when Verbiest died in 1688.

Trusted by Kangxi, Grimaldi accompanied the emperor when he went out to visit his empire in 1683 and 1685 and was sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia in 1687. He returned to Beijing in 1694 and was rewarded by the emperor for his services. Although not directly involved in church mission, Grimaldi’s 40 years of service in China was an important reason for Kangxi’s liberal attitude toward church mission in China.


This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Treadgold, Donald W., The West in Russia and China: China, 1582-1949 (1973).

About the Author

China Group

A Collaboration of China Scholars