Skip to main content

Gunning Lecture: "Goddesses of the Seas: A comparative study of the Virgin Mary and Mazu as protectors of seamen in the early modern world"

Mazu, the honorary name given to a young girl in the Song dynasty, became the universal patroness of Chinese seamen during the late medieval centuries. When Catholic missionaries first traveled to China by sea in the early 16th century, they encountered her cult and recorded the rituals and beliefs associated with her. As for the missionaries themselves, they turned to the Virgin Mary for protection during the long and perilous voyages from Europe to Asia, during which shipwrecks were frequent and fatal. This lecture will compare the two maritime cults and propose a theory of religious ritual and a hypothesis for religious conversions.


This is a free public lecture to which all are welcome.  The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in Rainy Hall