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Ferdinand Verbiest
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Religious Figure
    (October 9, 1623-January 28, 1688)
    Born in Pittem, Belgium
    Seventeenth century Catholic priest, mathematician, astronomer, and missionary to China
    Member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) religious order
    Was the personal tutor of the Chinese emperor, the Hangxi Emperor
    Wrote over thirty books
    He received a lot of criticism in his lifetime and since for seeming to concentrate more on teaching the Chinese science rather than converting them to Christianity.
    He designed cannons and carriages to transport them for the Chinese military.
    Despite his contributions to China, he is lumped in by some with other colonialists who exploited China.
    He died after managing to fall off a horse
    Most pictures of him show him in traditional Chinese attire which he would never have worn.
    He and his fellow missionaries were persecuted when they first arrived in China and only received permission to evangelize when he won an astronomy contest against traditional Chinese astronomers.
    He reformed the Chinese calendar into the one China used until 1930 when it adopted the Gregorian calendar.
    He personally tutored the Chinese emperor in geometry, philosophy, and music.
    He was a skilled cartographer and diplomat.
    Although there is no proof it was ever built, he designed the first steam powered automobile.
    He translated some of Euclid's works into Mandarin.
    He was an incredible linguist, speaking Latin, Dutch, Spanish, Hebrew and Italian along with Mandarin Chinese.
    He designed a half a dozen astronomical instruments including an alterzimuth and a sextant.
    After his death, he was accorded the unique honor of being the first westerner to receive a Chinese name, Nan Huairen.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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