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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

The Living Goddess of Mercy at the Rape of Nanking: Minnie Vautrin and the Ginling Refugee Camp in World War II (1937–1938)

Emmanuel College, University of Toronto, 75 Queen’s Park Crescent East, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7, Canada
I thank one of the anonymous reviewers who raised the issue of how to deal with the Nanking Atrocity time period of 1937 to 1938: whether this period should be interpreted as connected to the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) or as part of the Second World War. In this paper, I hav adopted the second viewpoint to point to the wide global impact of these events and provide a sufficient background for my argument. I also thank another anonymous expert who carefully reviewed the paper and raised a question about the standard system of Romanization. Throughout this paper, generally, I used the Pinyin, while in a few situations I have chosen to use Wade–Giles to provide a sense of historical narratives and to maintain the material’s originality, for example, in cases of Nanking, Ginling, and a few Chinese family names. Other Wade–Giles nouns have been used in this paper simply because I could not work out accurate Pinyin based upon the historical documents.
Academic Editor: Mark G. Toulouse
Religions 2016, 7(12), 150;
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 28 October 2016 / Accepted: 5 December 2016 / Published: 17 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and China in the 21st Century)
PDF [453 KB, uploaded 17 December 2016]


During the infamous Nanking Atrocity, some Western businesspersons and missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone to protect about 250,000 refugees. When the Japanese army was pressing on Nanking, Minnie Vautrin, an educational missionary from the United Christian Missionary Society, took charge of the Ginling College campus. As one of the 25 refugee camps, Ginling provided shelter to about 10,000 women and children in late December 1937—the hardest time during World War II in China. With her neutral identity of American nationality, Vautrin seriously struggled with Japanese soldiers when they were seizing Chinese women for rape from the campus; thus, she helped many women avoid the possible fate of sexual violence and slaughter. The Chinese people promoted her as a “Goddess of Mercy”, in the Chinese language a “Living Buddha” (Huo pu sa) or “Guanyin Buddha” (Guan Yin pu sa). The Chinese central government awarded her the Order of Jade (Cai Yu xun zhang). Drawing from Vautrin’s diaries and other original materials, this paper narrates this Christian female missionary’s moving story in humanism, evangelism, and internationalism. Her devotion to the Chinese refugee women and children made her an eyewitness to the Nanking Massacre, a rehabilitator of refugee sufferings, and a mental and bodily victim of disastrous war. View Full-Text
Keywords: Nanking Massacre; Minnie Vautrin; humanism; evangelism; internationalism; World War II Nanking Massacre; Minnie Vautrin; humanism; evangelism; internationalism; World War II
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Guo, S.-P. The Living Goddess of Mercy at the Rape of Nanking: Minnie Vautrin and the Ginling Refugee Camp in World War II (1937–1938) . Religions 2016, 7, 150.

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