Few people did more for the advancement of Western science in China than Xu (Paul) Guangqi (1562-1633). Together with the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, this Ming-era polymath translated many classic Western texts into Chinese (as well as Chinese texts into Latin), developed (and authored books on) new agricultural methods and astronomy, and was something of an outspoken (and outcast) critic of Chinese society. His association with Ricci led to his being baptized as a Roman Catholic in 1603.
The park that now bears his name – and his tomb – stands a short walk away from the St Ignatius (Xujiahui) Cathedral; it’s a delightful flash of green among the rather drab towers that surround it, with a bust of Xu near the entrance. The memorial hall, which dates back half a millenia (though it originally stood elsewhere), houses a dozen tablets engraved by Xu himself, and a thorough history of the man’s life, achievements, and eventual domestic rehabilitation.