1856  — 1933

Georges Frederic Leon Wieger

Physician, sinologue, and Jesuit missionary in China.

Born in Strasbourg, France, where he completed six years of classical studies and six years of medical school, Georges Frederic Leon Wieger practiced medicine for two years in civilian life and then two years in the army. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1881 in Belgium because the order was outlawed in France at that time. Several months after his ordination in July 1887, he arrived in the mission of southeastern Chihli (roughly present-day Hebei) Province. With his medical skills, Wieger developed a regimen of hygiene for missionaries and for the Chinese.

His study of the language convinced him of the need to publish systematic works on Chinese culture. In addition to a considerable number of homiletic and catechetical books for missionaries to preach in Chinese languages (including the Hejianfu dialect), he wrote a ten-volume history of modern China and works on Chinese language and customs. Many appeared in several editions; some were also translated from French into English and are still in use today. For his outstanding contributions to sinology the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris three times awarded him the Stanislas Julien Prize.


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.


  • [Georges Frederic] Leon Wieger, Chine moderne, 10 vols. (1920-1932), Histoire des croyances religieuses et des opinions philosophiques en Chine (2d ed., 1922), Caracteres chinois (4th ed., 1924), La Chine a travers les ages (2d ed., 1924), A History of the Religious and Philosophical Opinions in China (1927; repr., 1969), China throughout the Ages (1928), Les peres du systeme taoiste (2d ed., 1950), and Chinese characters (2d ed., 1965). H. Bernard, “Au service des missions et des missionnaires de Chine. Bibliographie methodique des oeuveres du P. L. Wieger,” Collectanea Commissionis Synodalis 5 (1932): 975-984, and “Missions, medecine et sinologie: Le P. Wieger et ses etudes sur la Chine,” ibid. 7 (1934): 710-733; Pierre Delattre, “Le Pere Leon Wieger,” Revue d’histoire des missions 10 (1933): 243-258.

About the Author

John W. Witek

Associate Professor of East Asian History, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA