Tianzhu (Chinese name of God)

Tianzhu (Chinese: 天主, Tiānzhǔ), meaning "Heavenly Master" or "Lord of Heaven," was the Chinese word used by the Jesuit China missions to designate God.[1]


The word first appeared in Michele Ruggieri's Chinese translation of the Decalogo, or Ten Commandments.[1] In 1584, Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci published their first catechism, Tiānzhǔ shílù (天主實錄, The Veritable Record of the Lord of Heaven).[2]

Matteo Ricci later wrote a catechism entitled Tiānzhŭ Shíyì (天主實義, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven).[1][2]

Following the Chinese rites controversy, the term Tiānzhŭ was officially adopted by the Pope in 1715, who rejected alternative terms such as Tiān (天, "Heaven") and Shàngdì (上帝, "Supreme Emperor").[3]

"Catholicism" is most commonly rendered as Tiānzhǔjiào (天主教, "Religion of the Lord of Heaven"). An individual Catholic is Tiānzhŭjiào tú;[4] includes the meanings "disciple" and "believer."[5] The same hanja characters are used in the Korean words for Catholicism and Catholic believer.

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Further reading

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