1750  — 1815

Jean-Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse

Catholic missionary bishop and martyr in China.

Born in Lezoux, France, Dufresse entered the Paris Foreign Mission Society in 1774 and was sent to China in 1775. In 1785 he was deported by the hostile Chinese government, but returned secretly in 1789. In 1800 he became a bishop and was appointed apostolic vicar of Szechwan, and in 1803, at a time of relative peace, he presided over the first synod in China, a synod which would have great importance for the future development of the Chinese church. A decree in 1811 condemned to death all leaders of European religions, and in 1815 Dufresse’s identity was discovered. At the order of the emperor, he was beheaded (along with another bishop and nine priests). In 1900, in the company of a number of Chinese martyrs, Dufresse was beatified by Pius X. Their feast is celebrated on November 27.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • J. Beckmann, “Die Lage der katholischen Missionen in China um 1815,” NZM 2 (1946): 217-223
  • J. Metzler, Die Synoden in China, Japan, und Korea 1570-1931 (1980)
  • J. de Moidrey, Confesseurs de la Foi en Chine (1935), p. 84; 
  • Louis Wei Tsing-Sing, La Politique Missionaire de la France en Chine, 1842-56 (1960)
  • B. H. Willeke, Imperial Government and Catholic Missions in China during the Years 1784 to 1785 (1948)

About the Author

Stephen B. Bevans

Professor of Historical and Doctrinal Studies, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois, USA