6244. Contemporary copy of Sala's manuscript

SALA, ILLARIONE. "Relazione delle cose succedute in Cina 2 Aprile 1705 che giunse Monsig. Patriarcha di Tournon visitadore ap[ostoli]co a Macao sino alli 12 di nGennaro 1708".

Manuscript in folio (about 273x198 mm), 280 leaves (560 pp., final leaf blank), in four different hands, about 1710.
Contemporary full vellum, somewhat soiled and worn, faded spine manuscript title.

Löwendahl: China illustrata nova. Supplement, MS 5.
The papal legation of Carlo Tommaso Maillard de Tournon to the Sino-Manchu empire (1705-1710) marks one of the crucial turning points in the modern history of the Chinese Church.
Best known and most used of the unedited manuscript records of the legation is the present "Relazione", of which Salo's autograph original, a rough scrawl with many corrections, is in Archivo storico de Propaganda Fide, Rome, SRC 10, ff. 352-451.
In addition to the present manuscript, copies are found in the same archive APF, Informationi 167, ff. 192-432, and in other archival deposits, i. a. Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome, 2678, ff. 237-516, and Biblioteca Corsini. There is also a copy in the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, San Francisco.
The first printed version of Sala's narrative appeared in "Memorie Storiche", 8, pp. 3-312, Venezia 1762, edited by Domenico Passionei.

Sala's "Relazione" is often considered, in fact, as something of an "official history", despite its patently unilateral inspiration and its lack of documents (intentionally omitted). Sala was never in Peking. Entering China only two years before Tournon (1703), he did missionary work in Chekiang (Zhejiang) Province until joining up with the patriarch when this latter came to Nanking (17 December 1706) on his way down from the capital. With the storm then brewing, Sala elected to make for Canton (Guangzhou) in a hurry before things got worse and from there followed the exiled Patriarch to Macao. Six months later he took boat for Europe (18 January 1708). On reaching Rome (28 March 1710), he set about writing an account of the papal mission covering the events up to his departure from Macao and founded, he assures us, on the facts as obtained from the Legate himself during the months they lived together.

From the library of Swedish antiquarian bookdealer Björn Löwendahl (1941-2013).