1645  — 1708

Tomás Pereira

Portuguese Jesuit missionary serving the Qing government of Emperor Kangxi.

Pereira, who learned music from childhood, left Europe for Goa in 1666 and arrived in Macau in 1672, moving on to Beijing when Ferdinand Verbiest recommended him to Emperor Kangxi, who was interested in Western music. Pereira produced teaching materials in Chinese and taught craftsmen to make various musical instruments, which he used to teach Kangxi two or three songs.

When Philippus Maria Grimaldi went to Russia in 1687, Pereira took his place as assistant to Verbiest. In 1689 Kangxi assigned Pereira and Francois Gerbillon (1654-1707) to accompany the emperor legate, Suo E Tu, to Ni Bu Chu to negotiate the Sino-Russia Treaty (the Treaty of Ni Bu Chu). The emperor was pleased with the outcome of the treaty, and in 1690, when Pereira went to the palace to bid the emperor farewell before his visit to the provinces, Kangxi inquired about the missionaries and churches in his itinerary. On his trip to the south, the emperor met the missionaries and sent his officers to the churches with monetary gifts.

In 1693 Pereira wrote a long letter to the emperor regarding a Jesuit missionary facing difficulty in Hangzhou. In response, Kangxi issued an injunction allowing the propagation of Christianity in China. By 1700 there were approximately 300,000 Christians in China. Undoubtedly Pereira, together with Grimaldi and Gerbillon, contributed greatly toward the spread of Christianity in China in this period.


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).
  • Vath, Alfons, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, S.J. (1592-1666) (1991)

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