Huc was born in Caylus, Tarn-et-Garonne, France. After theological studies at Toulouse, he entered the Congregation de la Mission (Lazarists or Vincentians) in 1836 and three years later reached Peking (Beijing) via Macao. The vicar apostolic of North Chihli (the region of Chihli comprised what is largely today’s Hebei and Liaoning Provinces), Martial Mouly, wanted Huc and his confrere, Joseph Gabet, to travel to Mongolia and Tibet to learn customs and culture of these regions.
After studying Mongolian dialects for several years, Huc and Gabet left for Mongolia in 1844. They preached there and then proceeded to the Buddhist monastery at Kumbun in Kansu (Gansu) Province, where they learned Tibetan. Later they published a translation of the forty-two essential points of the teaching of the Buddha as recorded in Mongolian. In January 1846, Tibetans welcomed them in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, but a Chinese commissioner forced them to leave by late February. They reached Canton (Guangzhou) in September. Because of frail health, Huc returned to Paris in 1852. After leaving the Vincentians the following year, he published an extensive travelogue on China, Mongolia, and Tibet (translated into eight languages), a two-volume sequel on the Chinese empire, and a history of Christianity in these lands. He died in Paris.
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.
- Evariste-Regis Huc, Souvenirs d’un voyage dans la Tartarie et le Thibet, 5th ed., 2 vols. (1868; repr. 1925), Recollections of a Journey through Tartary, Tibet, and China, 2 vols. (1852), L’empire chinois, 3d ed. (1857), The Chinese Empire, 2d ed., 2 vols. (1855; repr. 1970), and Les quarante-deux points d’enseignement professes par Boudha (1850). See also Memoires de la Congregation de la Mission, vol. 3 (1911-1912), pp. 407-410.