This paper uses the cult of Assunta Pallotta, an Italian Catholic nun who died in a north China village in 1905, to critique the existing literature on missionary medicine in China. She was recognized as holy because of the fragrance that accompanied her death, and later the incorrupt state of her body, and her relics were promoted as a source of healing by the Catholic mission hospital, absorbed into local folk medicine, and are still in use today. By focusing on Catholics, not Protestants, and women, not men, the paper suggests similarities between European and Chinese traditional religious and medical cultures and argues that instead of seeing a transfer of European biomedicine to China, we need to think of a single globalized process in which concepts of science and religion, China and the West were framed.

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