Drawing on official documents filed at the First Historical Archives in Beijing, and on missionary correspondence located at the Archivio storico ‘de Propaganda Fide’ in Rome, this paper will focus on printed manifestations of popular Christianity during the mid-Qing period. It will argue that, following the exclusion of foreign missionaries after the imperial edict of 1724, tendencies towards inculturation accelerated. Early nineteenth-century sources reveal that the Christian villagers were well aware of the fact that they had preserved but a fraction of what the foreign priests had introduced several generations earlier, yet the sheer memory of their ancestors’ faith was sufficient to provide the religious and social cohesion which characterized Christian life during the eighteenth century. While developing into a syncretic expression of a belief originally introduced by European missionaries, popular Chinese Christianity absorbed elements of other religious systems, mainly popular Daoism and Buddhist millenarianism, as well as ‘Confucian’ patterns of social morality. The spiritual writings memorized and passed from generation to generation in semi-literate rural communities played an important part in the formation of a new, Christian expression of popular religiosity.