Father Ferdinand Verbiest, SJ
President of the Imperial Board of Mathematics



Scott B1077  
BELGIUM, 1988, on the third centenary of his death, Scott B1077
and two special cancels from his birthplace, Pittem in Belgium,
one showing his statue by the Church of Notre Dame in the town square

Scott 610 Scott 609 Scott 1010c
MACAO, 1989, a mini-sheet series showing Western influence on Asia, Scott 609-610
MACAO, 1999, Scott 1010c
Both include a sketch by Verbiest showing the observatory at Peking and the instruments he caused to be built there.

Flemish Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-88) went to China, like Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and Adam Schall (1592-1666) before him, bringing the science of the West to advance the salvation of the East. He was called to Peking to assist Schall with the reform of the Chinese calendar. Some time later, when the emperor called for a public debate to compare the science of East and West, Verbiest was matched with the mandarin who had succeeded Schall as president of the Imperial Board of Mathematics and had instigated a persecution against the Jesuits. The scientists were to predict the exact time of a lunar eclipse, the length of a gnomon's shadow at noon of a certain day, and the positions of the heavenly bodies at a particular time. Verbiest won easily and was appointed president of the Imperial Board of Mathematics. Verbiest continued to work thereafter on a variety of projects, and his influence was such that the Jesuits were permitted to go back to their preaching and the Church thrived. When he died, he was buried beside Ricci and Schall with imperial honors. More

The Jesuits were asked to make new bronze astronomical instruments for the Imperial Observatory at Beijing. Verbiest directed Chinese craftsmen in making these instruments based on the designs of the Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe. Block prints of the construction survived in Verbiest’s texts Lingtai yixiangzhi and Astronomia Europaea sub Imperatore Tartarico Sinico Cam Hy.