29. Tombstone of Andreas da Perugia, Franciscan Bishop of Quanzhou (Zayton)
Born in Perugia, Italy and died circa 1332 in Quanzhou
Original now in Beijing, copy in Quanzhou Maritime Museum
Ricci 29 KP 053 Z32
The Franciscan bishop of Zayton, Andreas of Perugia, died and was buried in the city of Quanzhou in 1332. His badly weathered stone still shows signs of the Latin inscription along with carvings of two figures with billowing scarves and flowing draperies supporting a stand bearing a lotus flower and the lower arm of a cross. The use of “Nestorian” Christian iconography for the tombstone of a Latin bishop is worthy of note.
Discovered in 1946, a photograph of the stone taken by Wu Wenliang was sent to John Foster – a scholar of Nestorianism in China – in the UK who identified the language as Latin and sought the advice of Professor C. J. Fordyce, then Professor of Humanity (i.e. Latin) at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Fordyce’s partial decipherment follows:
† Hic …sepultus est
Andreas Perusinus (devotus ep. Cayton.......ordinis (fratrum
min.) ....... Jesus Christi........Apostolus........(in mense) .......
M (cccxx)xii + 1332 †
Here is buried Andrew of Perugia devoted bishop of Quanzhou... Order of Friars
Minor ...Apostle of Jesus Christ in...month...1332
Fordyce’s approximation of the obituary inscription remains unsurpassed, even though a conference in honor of Andreas da Perugia attempted a new version in 1992. Today, with remarkable advances in digital enhancement the weathered script holds much promise for a new generation of scholars.