Libraries & Spaces
The Society of Jesus 1540-1773
The purpose of this exhibit is to introduce to the Georgetown community and to other viewers the wealth of historical materials relating to the Society of Jesus brought together in the Special Collections Division and in the Woodstock Library. These materials include not only a comprehensive collection of printed books and journals, but rich manuscript sources as well, including the archives of the Maryland Province, of Woodstock College, and of Georgetown itself; papers of more than 150 individual Jesuits; and a rich and varied group of related pictorial, photographic, and cartographic resources.
The exhibit marks three specific occasions. The first of these is the acquisition this past summer of the first two printings of the Ratio studiorum (1586; 1591). This basic work in Jesuit education, not perhaps as directly influential as it once was, has nonetheless been the source of a rich tradition. The earliest printings of the work are of legendary rarity: the copies shown here are the only ones recorded in the United States and among less than a dozen of each known anywhere in the world. Their acquisition was made possible by the generosity of Homer Hervey and Paul Strasske, both of the class of 1958, and of Mrs. Helen Strasske.
The second occasion is the acquisition of the Milton House Archives. This collection of several closely related groups of correspondence and other items was probably amongst the most important groups of English recusant manuscripts left in private hands. It includes important letters by Cardinal William Allen, Rev. Robert Persons, S.J., and others important in the activity of Jesuit missionaries in England in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
The third occasion is the award of a sizable grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the first year of a two-year project to produce a cumulative index to the approximately 1,500 linear feet of Jesuit and Jesuit-related manuscript materials in the Special Collections Division. This grant will enable the library to make readily available for the first time the Jesuit collections which are a main strength of its resources for research. The library actively seeks to build on these collections, which cover the entire timespan of the Society’s history and are worldwide in scope.
Finally, we hope that those who see the exhibit will come away with a new (or renewed) appreciation of the breadth and importance of the contributions made by the Society and its members during its early years.
Items in the Exhibition:
Even before the suppression, the Society of Jesus produced a considerable literature dealing with its own history and, in particular, with the biographical record of its members as well as the enumeration of their published writings.
Imago primi saecvli Societatis Iesv a provincia Flandro-Belgica eivsdem Societatis repraesentata. Antverpiae: Ex officina Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti, 1640.
A splendidly printed history of the work of the Society’s first hundred years, adorned with 123 emblematic plates and title page engraved by Cornelis Galle. The work is sometimes ascribed to Jean Tollenar, at the time moderator of the Flandro-Belgian province, and its Flemish verses to Adrien de Poirtres.
Bibliotheca scriptorvm Societatis Iesv, post excusum Anno M.DC.VIII. Catalogum…Nunc hoc nouo apparatu librorum ad annum reparatae salutis M.DC.XLII. … a Philippo Alegambe. Antverpiae: Apud Ioannem Mevrsivm, 1643.
The second edition, vastly enlarged by fellow Jesuit Philippe Alegambe, of Rivadeneira’s original bibliography of Jesuit writings. The work has the peculiarity of its time, frustrating to modern users, of listing authors alphabetically by their Christian names.
Imagines praepositorum generalium Societatis Jesu delineatae, & aereis formis expressae ab Arnoldo van Westerhout…Editio secunda auctior, et emendatior. Romae: Sumptibus Venantii Monaldini, 1751.
The most complete version of Galeotti’s bio-iconography of the generals of the Society. The first edition of 1748 comprised 14 portraits by Westerhout and one by Faldoni; the ordinary “second edition" added to these the Faldoni portrait of Fr. Visconti. In this copy are added portraits by Faldoni of Frs. Centurioni and Ricci, the latter the last general before the suppression. All the plates in this copy are fine paper proofs mounted on blank leaves, a variant otherwise not recorded.
Societas Jesu apostolorum imitatrix, sive gesta praeclara et virtutes eorum, qui e Societate Jesu In procuranda salute animarum…Pragae: Typis Universitatis Carolo-Ferdinandeae, in Collegio Societatis Jesu ad S. Clementem, per Adalbertum Georgium Konias, 1694.
The second and last of Tanner’s great biographical compendia, this one dealing with Jesuits who distinguished themselves in the work of the Society in various parts of Europe. Illustrated with dramatic scenes emblematic of the Jesuits’ lives, though hardly as harrowing as those in its predecessor.
Societas Jesu usque ad sanguinis et vitae profusionem militans… Pragae: Typis Universitatis Carolo-Ferdinandeae, in Collegio Societatis Jesu ad S. Clementem, per Joannem Nicolaum Hampel, 1675.
Tanner’s catalog of Jesuit martyrs in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, illustrated with a remarkably inventive series of scenes of death and torture engraved by Melchior Kusell after drawings by C. Screta.
Societas Iesv per mvndvm vniversvm diffvsa praedicat Christi evangelivm…[Rome(?) ca. 1749]
Engraved map of “the known world” displaying by means of small crosses the major fields of Jesuit missionary activity. Inserted in (and perhaps issued with) a copy of the Catalogus Provinciarum…Societatis Jesu Anno M DCC XLIX (Rome:Komarek [1750?]).
The Society expanded rapidly in the years after 1550. The first and early editions of the documents which it created to govern itself, as well as of those which were of use in forming its prospective members and others, are perhaps as scarce as are autographs of its most influential early members.
Exercitia spiritvalia. [Rome: Blado] 1548.
The first edition of Loyola’s “spiritual exercises,” the method of formation of man and spirit at the heart of the foundation of the Society of Jesus. Woodstock Theological Library.
Document, signed, to Rev. Leonard Kessel, from Rome, 22 May 1551.
A “celebret,” granting permission to the Jesuit Fr. Kessel to perform the usual priestly duties (hearing confession, preaching, etc.). With a relic, a particle of one of the saint’s bones, attached. Acquired by a previous owner by even trade for an autograph of Martin Luther. From the Talbot Collection.
De vita et morib. Ignatii Loiolae, qvi Societatem Iesv fvndavit, libri III. Romae: Apud Franciscum Zannettum, 1585.
The first edition of Maffei’s life of Ignatius, which remained the standard biography of the Society’s founder for many years. The frontispiece portrait of Loyola is taken from the copy of the anonymous Vita beati P. Ignatii Loiolae Societatis Iesv Fvndatoris (Rome, 1622), a biography rendered in 80 engravings, bound second in this volume. With the signature of Archbishop John Carroll on the first title page.
Vita Francisci Borgiae Tertij Societatis Iesv Generalis…Latine vero ab And. Schotto…Accesserunt nunc primum pia opuscula Francisci Borgiae. Antverpiae: e Typographeio Ioach. Trognaesij, 1598.
An early Latin edition of Rivadeneira’s life of Borgia. This edition contains at the end the first printing of Schott’s recession of Borgia’s De ratione concionandi sev praedicatione evangelica libellus.
Autograph letter, signed, to “My reverend and dearest fathers and brothers,” from Onate, 19 May 
A letter expressing in comparisons with Cain and Esau the extreme humility of the future saint and third general of the Society of Jesus, who until only a month before the date of this letter was duke of Gandia, great-grandson of both Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) and Ferdinand of Aragon. His ordination as priest and the beginning of his missionary works began four days after this letter was written. Possibly a draft; the published version (Monumenta Historia S.J., III, 85) shows marked differences. From the Talbot Collection.
The major portion of this little prayerbook is given over to a life of the saint, one of the founders of the Society, with great emphasis on miracles performed by him both before and after his death. Like all such ephemeral publications, it is quite rare: the revised Wing records only this copy and one in the British Library. With the pre-1836 ownership stamp and number of the Georgetown college library and the signature of Rev. Enoch Fenwick, an early president of the college.
Document, signed, to Rev. Diego Laynez, from Rome, 15 November 1563.
Writing as Cardinal Michele Ghisleri, chief of the Roman and universal Inquisition, the author grants permission to Laynez, then general of the Society of Jesus, and to other Jesuit fathers living in Rome whom Laynez may choose, permission “to see, read, and annotate all books, works, scholia, notes and any other writings whatsoever, of heretical authors…[and] to bring hither [such works] from abroad.” From the Talbot Collection.
Constitutiones et declarationes examinis generalis Societatis Iesv. Romae: Apud Victorium Haelianum, 1570.
The second edition of the governing documents of the Society, first published in 1558/9 in five “separate” parts. With a presentation inscription from the American ex-Jesuit bibliographer and journalist Rev. J. M. Finotti. Woodstock Theological Library.
Regvlae Societatis Iesv. Venetiis, 1580.
The second edition of the Regulae, preceded only by one published at Rome earlier in the same year. With a catalog of the Society’s 21 provinces at the end, giving membership for the year 1579 of 5,165.
Ratio atqve institvtio stvdiorvm per sex patres ad id iussu R. P. Praepositi Generalis deputatos conscripta. Romae: In Collegio Societatis Iesu, 1586.
The first printed edition of the Ratio studiorum, produced for distribution to the several Jesuit provinces for commentary and reaction. With the extensive autograph deletions and additions common to other known copies. The only copy recorded in the United States. From the collection of Sir Leicester Harmsworth.
Ratio atq. institvtio stvdiorvm. Romae: In Collegio Societatis Iesu, 1591.
The first published edition of the Ratio, incorporating numerous changes from the private edition of 1586; this edition, however, was also superseded upon publication of that of 1599. The only copy recorded in the United States. From the collection of Sir Leicester Harmsworth, with the earlier booklabel of Henry Huth.
Autograph letter, signed, to Archangelo Buratti, from Rome, 21 December 1618.
A letter from the Jesuit theologian and saint dealing with purely secular affairs, in particular the suitability of his nephew Vincenzo, by reason of nobility of birth and availability of capital, to hold the cross of the order of St. Stephen, of which Bellarmino’s correspondent is a member. From the Talbot Collection.
Both through their involvement with the education of the young and through their own intellectual curiosity, the Jesuits were deeply involved with learning in almost all its forms and on many levels. Their contributions in theology, in literature, and in the sciences are particularly noteworthy.
The first title in a volume comprising eight “textbooks” on various subjects published for use in Jesuit schools in Germany. Authors include Torsellino, Gretser, Alvarez, and Canisius, among others; the dates of the texts range from 1703 to 1718. Many of these works were first written long before the date of publication; the volume was still in use at Georgetown in the early years of the 19th century, as attested by the signature of Richard McSherry, who entered in 1810. With the early Georgetown library pressmark.
[De sacramentis] [Liege? ca. 1760?]
Carroll’s long treatise on the sacraments (incomplete at the end) certainly dates from before his return to America in 1774; it is not clear, however, whether it is a sample of his efforts as a student or the basis for lectures as a professor of theology, in which position he also served at Liege.
Geometria Practica. [-Tractatus De Astronomia.] [Liege? ca. 1710]
Two manuscript treatises deriving from Attwood’s studies at the Jesuit college in Liege, from a series of similar texts in his hand. Attwood came to Maryland in 1712 and, before his death, rose to be Superior of the mission.
Opvs de virtvte, et statv religionis…Lvgdvni: Sumptibus Horatij Cardon, 1609.
Presentation copy from the printer, Horace Cardon, probably to the Jesuit college in Rome, of the first volume of Suarez’ major work on religion and the monastic life.
Analogia veteris ac novi testamenti…Moguntiae: Ex Officina Ioannis Albini, 1620.
First edition; bound with a second edition (1619) of the author’s De republica ecclesiastica. Though by no means the major work of this noted Dutch Jesuit controversialist and theologian, the Analogia enjoyed wide use in the Society from the time of its publication until the suppression. From the collection of Rev. Thomas C. Levins; in a contemporary pigskin binding with the emblem of the Society in the center panel of the upper board.
First edition of the first volume of the Bollandists’ massive undertaking, completed only after centuries of effort; a second volume for January appeared simultaneously—February had to wait until 1658, and other months appeared at yet longer intervals.
Historia Evstachio-Mariana. Romae: Ex Typographia Varesij, 1665.
The first edition of Kircher’s exhaustive study of St. Eustace, of the place of his conversion, and of surviving related churches and relics. Inscribed at the top of the printed title page “Assistentia Germaniae Soctis IESV. ex dono Authoris 1665.”
Historia natvrae, maxime peregrinae, libris xvi. distincta….Antverpiae: Ex officinl Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti, 1635.
Though his work is marred by his credulity and lack of modern scientific method, Nieremberg nonetheless made a valuable contribution in describing reasonably accurately—and illustrating—some of the exotic fauna and flora of the New World.
Theoria philosophiae naturalis redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium…Venetiis: Ex Typographia Remondiniana, 1763.
The third (and best) edition, the first whose printing was supervised by its author, of the Yugoslav Jesuit’s major contribution to scientific thought, an exposition of natural philosophy as dependent upon a “law of forces.” From the rare book collection of the University of Detroit Library.
Lyricorum libri iv. Epodon lib. vnvs. Alterq. epigrammatvm. Antverpiae: Ex officina Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti, 1632.
The most handsomely printed edition of Sarbiewski’s poems, which enjoyed considerable popularity in the first half of the seventeenth century. The engraved title is by Cornelis Galle after a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens. From the collection of Rev. Thomas C. Levins.
El maestro de escrivir, la theorica, y la practica para aprender, y para ensenar este vtilissimo arte… Venecia: Presso Paolo Baglioni, 1696.
Throughout its plates, this work by a Spanish Jesuit brother bears extensive evidence of its continued use by (more or less) talented students of the art of writing.
Pantheum mythicum, seu fabulosa deorum, historia, hoc primo epitomes eruditionis volumine, breviter dilucideque comprehensa…Editio quinta. Ultrajecti: Apud Giuljelmum van de Water, 1697.
The best edition of the French Jesuit’s summarization and elucidation for students of the classical pantheon; this edition is augmented by an extra engraved title (dated 1698) and 27 fine engraved plates, almost entirely the work of I. van Vianen. First published in 1659, this work enjoyed wide popularity and was reprinted numerous times in Latin, French, and English for a century and a half.
The Jesuits are perhaps best known today for their vigorous activity as missionaries throughout the world. A very large body of publications kept not only the Society’s own members, but also that public possessed of what a Jesuit called “an honest and saintly curiosity” apprised of their multifarious doings.
Breve relatione d’alcune missioni de PP. della Compagnia di Giesu nella Nuoua Francia… Macerata: Per gli Heredi d’Agostino Grisei, 1653.
First edition of one of the best known of the “Jesuit relations” which conveyed to European audiences the missionary experience of the Society in Canada from the 1630’s to about 1670. Bressani’s account Is the only one of the series not published in French. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea, with his bookplate.
Autograph letter, signed, to “Monsieur Riinsklaer [Van Rensselaer] & aux autres messieurs Les Commissaires d’Albanie,” from Tinniontogen, 12 November 1667.
A thank-you letter from the young Jesuit missionary to the English authorities at Albany, sent in response to an inconclusive, though cordial, meeting earlier in the fall at Schenectady; Pierron had sought to convince the English to give up, or limit, their trade in liquor to the Mohawks. Written from the “capital” of the Mohawks at that period, a village near the site of Fort Plain, New York, on the Mohawk River.
Racines agnieres. [Canada? ca. 1675-1700]
Apparently the original “finished” draft of the French Jesuit’s pioneering study of the Mohawk language. The collecting and codification of data was probably done in the “praying Indians” settlements along the St. Lawrence River, perhaps at Caughnawaga or Sault St. Louis. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea, who edited Bruyas’ work for publication in 1863.
Letter, signed, to George Birkhead, [from Rome], “Easter eve” [10 April] 1610.
The English Jesuit’s farewell letter to the Archpriest of England, written five days before his death. Along with Edmund Campion, Persons was, in 1580, one of the first two Jesuits to be sent to England as a missionary. From the Milton House Archives.
Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. En Madrid: En la Imprenta de la Viuda d Manuel Fernandez, 1757. 3 vols.
First edition of the first major work on California, containing much valuable historical and geographical material not to be found elsewhere; its author was a Jesuit missionary in Mexico and California. The work also treats Baja California, southern Arizona, and northern Sonora as well as California proper. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea.
Relation des insignes progrez de la religion chrestienne, faits av Paragvai…& dans les vastes Regions de Guair & d’Vruaig… A Paris: Chez Sebastien Cramoisy, 1638.
A document parallel to the series of Canadian “Jesuit relations” which began at the same period. The events recounted in this narrative, however, occurred a whole decade earlier, between 1626 and 1628, the years marking the Jesuits’ first entry into the territories of Paraguay and Uruguay. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea.
Probably either a retained draft of the letter sent to Rome or a copy prepared for one of the Jesuit houses in Peru; no account for the year 1591 appears in the Monumenta Peruana S.J. One of a series of 12 such “annual letters” from the Jesuit missions in Peru which the library holds. Inclusive dates range from 1591 to 1704.
Declaracion copiosa de las qvatro partes mas essenciales, y necessarias de la doctrina christiana… Tradvcida de lengva castellana en la general del inga por el bachiller Bartolome Ivrado. Impresso en Lima: por Iorge Lopez de Harrera, 1649.
Set in parallel columns in Spanish and Quechua. A summary in dialogue form of the Catholic Church’s teachings concerning the Creed, the Our Father, the Commandments, and the Sacraments prepared for the use of Jesuit missionaries among the Indians of Peru. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea.
Bound volume containing contemporary copies of more than 30 letters and “relations” from or concerning Jesuit missionaries in North and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands, the greater number addressed to Rev. Matthias Tanner. Manuscript compilations such as this took the place, for many Jesuit records, of the published “Jesuit relations” emanating from the Canadian missions.
De rebus Iaponicis, Indicis, et Pervanis epistolae recentiores. Antverpiae: Ex Officina Martini Nutij, 1605.
The first edition of this collection of 40 letters and other accounts received from Jesuit missionaries the world over. It forms a valuable early supplement to Maffei’s Historiarum indicarum (1588). From the collection of John Gilmary Shea; with the early bookplate of Balthasar Hörl.
Innocentia victrix… [Quam cheu(?)] 1671.
The official account, in Latin and Chinese, of the end of Chinese persecution of Catholic missionaries, intended to supplement and correct verbal and partial printed accounts circulating already in Europe and the Far East. Printed from woodblocks in the manner used for the Relation sepvltvrae (1700) displayed next. Woodstock Theological Library.
Relatio sepvltvrae Magno Orientis Apostolo S. Francisco Xauerio erectae in Insula Sanciano anno saeculari MDCC. [Peking? 1700]
An account of the tomb of St. Francis Xavier, published by the Jesuits in China. Chinese workmen were employed to cut each page of text as a separate woodblock; the pages thus “composed” were then printed as a consecutive text on paper folded in the Chinese fashion. From the collection of John Gilmary Shea.
The collections at Georgetown are particularly rich in materials documenting the Jesuit experience in Maryland from its earliest days. Curiously, some of the more interesting items relating to worship derive from the satellite missions in eastern Pennsylvania. From Maryland too derives our only direct record of the suppression.
Regvlae Societatis Jesv. Lvgdvni: Ex Typographia Iacobi Rovssin, 1607.
An early reprint of the Regulae, first published in 1580. This copy was used by Rev. Andrew White, probably during his stay in Maryland, and includes a page of notes in his hand at the front.
One of the standard Douai publications, widely used by Jesuit missionaries in England, Ireland, and America. This copy was used by Rev. Andrew White, the first Jesuit missionary in Maryland; 5 pages at the front bear prayers written by him in Latin, English, and Conoy (Piscataway)—the language of the Indian tribe living at that time (ca. 1635-40) near what is now the District of Columbia.
[Series of mathematical treatises] [Liege? ca. 1730]
Neale was widely recognized among his Jesuit colleagues of the time as an outstanding mathematician. The slip bearing a poetical rendition of the “Golden Rule” is in hand of Rev. Robert Harding, a Jesuit who served in Philadelphia from about the time of Neale’s death. The manuscript was incorporated into the early Georgetown college library, and it shows the library pressmark.
Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica… Londini: Jussu Societatis Regiae ac Typis Josephi Streater. Prostat apud plures Bibliopolas, 1687.
First edition of Newton’s classic work. With the signature on the title page of Rev, Henry Neale, certainly the most scientifically gifted of the Jesuit missionaries in Maryland. Neale almost certainly brought the volume with him when he came to America in 1740.
Very little is known of the appearance of early American mission churches. The three items displayed here point out two aspects of worship in America which might well be expected: a concern for maintaining vital parts of the European tradition and the need to “make do” on the frontier with less than one might want. These items, however, were from the equipment of a settled church; often missionaries making long rounds on horseback may have gotten along with a good deal less.
[Officium proprium missarum] [Goshenhoppen, Pa., ca. 1750]
The scarcity of printed devotional materials was a continuing plague to Jesuit missionaries in America. Fr. Schneider, serving in a then-remote Pennsylvania mission, supplied one need with this handwritten version of the changeable parts of the mass for each Sunday and saint’s day in the liturgical year.
[Set of altar cards, in Latin] [Goshenhoppen, Pa., ca. 1750]
Cards similar to these were used on the altar as a reminder to the celebrant of fixed parts of the mass. Widely available in printed form in Europe, they frequently had to be handwritten, as here, in America. Mounted in this form by the first archivist of Georgetown University, Rev. Francis A. Barnum.
Warhaffte lange und dicke des Heilegen Nagels IESU Christi… [Trier? Ca. 1750]
Engraving on silk of the supposed nail used to crucify Christ kept in the cathedral of Trier. Brought to this country by Rev. Theodore Schneider, the image may have been used as a decoration in the church he built at Goshenhoppen, Pennsylvania.
The second edition of the Rheims New Testament. This copy was used for many years in the early Maryland missions; its home-repaired binding testifies to its hard use, and to the scarcity of Catholic versions of Scripture in America (the first Catholic Bible published in America did not appear until 1790). The repairs were made in part with as yet unidentified parish or estate records. With the later bookstamp of St. Francis Xavier’s. Bohemia (i.e., Bohemia Manor).
Method of Confessing. [Southern Maryland, 1723]
The earliest dated specimen among the more than 450 surviving American Jesuit manuscript sermons of the 18th century. Greaton, best known for his missionary endeavors in Philadelphia, began his efforts in America in southern Maryland; all of his four surviving sermons date from this period. Like most sermons of the time, this one was very brief and aimed at specific instruction of the congregation.
Autograph letter, signed, to “Messrs the Missioners in Maryland & Pensilvania,” from London(?), 6 October 1773.
Letter of transmittal accompanying notification of the suppression of the Society of Jesus and the form of submission to be signed by the Maryland Jesuits and returned.
Bulle…Touchant la Suppression de la societe de jesus, En Latin & en Francois. [Brussels?] 1773.
A very early republication of the bull Dominus ac Redemptor, by which Clement XIV suppressed the Society in August, 1773. This copy is enhanced by extensive—and witty—manuscript commentaries and verses of pen of one Cure Grandfils; these comments are themselves continued by a later, unknown writer, whose contributions include an allegation that the Jesuits poisoned Clement XIV in revenge a year after the suppression.