Christianity first came to China over one thousand years ago but it did not last long. Alopen, a Syrian monk, introduced Nestorian Christianity in the Tang Dynasty and founded several monasteries and churches. Nestorian Christianity reemerged in the Mongol era in the early 14th century.
Nestorian Christianity declined in China substantially in the mid-14th century. Roman Catholicism in China grew at the expense of the Nestorians during the late Yuan dynasty. Franciscan Bishop John of Montecorvino began his evangelization mission of the Mongols in Beijing, but his mission ceased with the end of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in 1368.
With the arrival of Jesuit missionaries, Matteo Ricci and his companions in Ming Dynasty worked until the early Qing Dynasty before the Rites Controversy caused the Chinese emperor to ban Christianity for one hundred years. Prior to the banning, Catholics enjoyed a high profile and respect in mainstream Chinese society, including government officers, royal family members and scholars. The number of Catholics increased.