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The metaphor of illness: Medical culture in the dissemination of Catholicism in early Qing China

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During early Qing Dynasty, with the gradual spread of Catholicism among local society, the role of the Catholic Church in treating peoples’ disease became increasingly important. To fulfill the goal of converting Chinese, missionaries not only tried to make a favorable impression by distributing medicine, but also competed with Buddhism, Taoism and other folk religions by constructing a series of romantic images concerning illness in society in order to more successfully disseminate Catholic ideology. The “exorcising” ability of Holy-water, the Cross, the Rosary and other items used in Catholic worship, and the sacramental rituals were exaggerated by missionaries and Chinese Catholics when preaching the Catholic faith in grassroots communities. The dialogue between Catholicism and Buddhism, Taoism, and folk beliefs found in Catholic medical stories from early Qing Dynasty is an important part of Catholic medical culture.


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