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A Ming Lady with Three Faces
|Other Titles:||Mary as Seen in Alfonso Vagnoni's Shengmu Xingshi�|
This paper discusses the Ming Jesuit Alfonso Vagnoni's Shengmu xingshi or Vita of the Virgin Mary (1631), a work that places special emphasis on the Mariale or miracles of Mary, and which is generally considered the first biography of Mary in Chinese. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact sources of Vagnoni's depiction of the Mariale, this paper identifies several popular collections of Mary's miracles dating from the European Middle Ages which may have influenced the author. Surprisingly, the first model of the Faustian stories, together with other literary motifs in the history of European literature, can be found in this three-juan life of Mary, which was put into Chinese in 1631. In addition to Mary's role as Jesus' mother, three other aspects of the Virgin receive prominent attention in Vagnoni's work: First, Mary assumes the role of the Intercessor between her followers and Jesus or God; second, she plays the role of the jealous bride who refuses any comparison of her beauty to that of other women, and finally, Mary appears as a Western counterpart to Guanyin, the son-giver, a role often overlooked in the European Mariale tradition. This paper argues that the three roles Mary assumes in Vagnoni's Chinese rendition were shaped by changing theological and social circumstances from the first century through the Ming. Shengmu xingshi, the first biography of Mary in the history of China, thus takes on pivotal significance both from a theological and from a literary standpoint.
|Appears in Collections:||教師著作|
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