The Society of Jesus

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The First Edition of Maffei’s Life of Ignatius

IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, SAINT (1491-1556), Maffei, Giovanni Pietro (1536-1603)
De Vita et Morib. Ignatii Loiolae: qui Societatem Iesu fundavit, libri III

Rome: Apud F. Zannettum, 1585


Quarto: 20 x 14.5 cm †2, A-Z4, Aa-Cc4, Dd2

Maffei, author of the influential history of the Jesuit missions in Asia, wrote his life of Ignatius to advance the Jesuits’ case for the canonization of the Society’s founder. In his opening letter to the Jesuit General Claudio Acquaviva, Maffei tells us that he composed the work at the behest of the previous general of the order, Everard Mercurian. The year in which this biography appeared (1585) was an inauspicious year for the Jesuits, for it was the first year of the reign of Pope Sixtus V, who was hostile to the order.


Backer-Sommervogel V, 296; Palau 14, 6954

Jesuits, Brahmans, & Snake-worshippers

INDIA. JESUITS. Magistris, Giacinto di, S.J. (1605-1668)
Relatione della Christianitá di Madure fatta da Padri Missionarii della Comp. de Giesù della Provinvia del Malavar.

Rome: Angelo Bernabo del Verme, 1661


Octavo: 15 x 10 cm. [16], 385 (recte 389) [2] p. Collation: *8, A-Z8, Aa8, Bb4

Giacinto de Magistris, an Italian Jesuit, worked in India for twenty years before returning to Rome in 1660. From 1644 to 1659 he acted as secretary and companion to Archbishop Francisco Garcia of Cranganore. He returned to Europe as procurator of the Malabar mission. He later returned to India, where he died in 1668.

In 1661 Magistris published at Rome his ‘Relation’ as a call to his confreres to enlist for service in Madura, Tanjore, and other places in southern and eastern India.


De Backer-S. V, 313; Streit V, 451

Jesuit Letters from Japan and India. Including an Account of the Death of Rudolph Aquaviva and the "Martyrs of Cuncolim"

JESUITS. JAPAN. INDIA. Fróis, Luís (1532-1597); Valignano, Alessandro (1539-1606), et alii
Nuove Lettere delle Cose del Giappone, Paese del Mondo Novo, Dell'anno 1579. infino al 1581. Con La Morte d'Alcuni Padri della Compagnia di Giesu'.

Venice: Appreso I Gioliti, 1585


Octavo: 16 x 10.5 cm. 188, [11] pp. Collation: A-M8, N4

This collection contains the following letters from the Jesuit missions in Japan: Francesco Carreón, writing from Kuchinotsu, 1 Dec., 1579; Gregorio de Céspedes, 1579; Lorenço Mexia, at Bungo, 20 Oct., 1580; three letters by Luís Fróis, Miyako, 14 April, 1581; 19 May, 1581; and 29 May, 1581; Francesco Cabral, 15 Sept., 1581. The final letter is by Alessandro Valignano, written at Goa 28 Dec.


Streit, Bibliotheca Missionum, IV. 1639; Sommervogel, II, col 492; Cordier, Sinica, 75; Laures 170

Kircher’s China

Kircher, Athanasius (1602-1680)
Athanasii Kircheri E Soc. Jesu China Monumentis Qua Sacris quà Profanis, Nec non variis Naturæ & Artis Spectaculis, Aliarumque rerum memorabilium Argumentis Illustrata, Auspiciis Leopoldi Primi Roman. Imper. Semper Augusti Munificentissimi Mecænatis.

Amsterdam: Apud Jacobum `a Meurs, in fossa vulgo` de Keyfersgracht, 1667


Folio: 31 x 21 cm. *4, **4; A-Z4; Aa-Hh4. (*1 is the engraved title page)

"In 1667 the learned German Jesuit, Athanasius Kircher, published his ‘China Illustrata’ at Amsterdam. Gathering his materials from the works of other members of the Society, Kircher wrote one of the century’s most influential treatises on China. His primary purpose was to establish the authenticity of the Nestorian monument discovered in Sian, and to that end he produced in print the original Chinese and Syriac inscriptions on the monument, the Chinese text in Romanization, and finally a Latin translation and his explication of the Chinese and Syriac texts.


Merrill 20 ("Constitutes the first Chinese vocabulary ever printed in the West. He includes a Sanskrit grammar and vocabulary ... the first printing of a Sanskrit grammar in Europe"); De Backer Sommervogel IV 1063, 24; Cordier 26; Caillet 5774; Brunet III, 666-667; Reilly #23; Lach "Asia in The Making of Europe", Vol III, Bk I, pp. 485-486, 527-528.

With Accounts of The Jesuit Missions & Persecution of Christians in Japan

Montanus, Arnoldus (1625-1683)
Ambassades Mémorables de la Compagnie des Indes Orientales des Provinces Unies, vers les Empereurs du Japon. Contenant plusieurs choses remarquables arrivées pendant le voyage des Ambassadeurs; et deplus, la Description des Villes, Bourgs, Chateaux, Forteresses, Temples & autres batimens: Des animaux, des Plantes, Montagnes, Riviéres, Fonteines; Des moeurs, coutumes, Religions & habillemens des Japonois: Comme aussi leurs exploits de guerre, & les révolutions tant anciennes que modernes que ces Peuplles ont essuyées. Le toot Enrichi de Figures dessinées sur les lieux, & tiré des Mémoires des Ambassadeurs de la Compagnie.

Amsterdam: Jacob de Meurs, 1680


Folio: 35.5 x 24 cm. 3 ll., 227 pp., 4 ll.; 146 pp., 3 ll. Collation: *4, A-Z4, Aa-Ff4, Gg2, Aaa-Ttt4.

The first French edition of Montanus' important work on Japan, originally published in Dutch as "Gedenkwaerdige gesantschappen" by Meurs at Amsterdam in 1669. 

The Jesuits in Japan: 1549-1641

Montanus' monumental work contains an extensive account of the activities of the Jesuits in Japan, including accounts of the arrival of St.


Landwehr VOC, 525; Alt-Japan-Kat. 1053; Lach "Asia in The Making of Europe", Vol III, Bk IV, pp. 1873 ff; STC Netherlands 843115939

With the Large Folding Map of Paraguay

PARAGUAY. Muratori, Lodovico Antonio (1672-1750)
Relation des missions du Paraguai, traduite de l'italien de M. Muratori

Paris: chez Bordelet, libraire, rue S. Jacques, vis-à-vis le Collége de Jésuites, à Saint Ignace, 1754


Octavo: 16.5 x 9.7 cm. [2], XXIV, 402, [4] p., With added map. Collation: π1, a-b8/4, A-Z8/4, Aa-Kk4/8, Ll3 (Lacking final blank.)

Muratori’s book marked an important development in the historiography of Paraguay. Muratori offered a new approach to the subject, distinct from the narratives of the Jesuits, the skeptical approach of the Jansenists, and those writers who filled their accounts with a mixture of adventure and romance.

“Muratori was far from being a propagandist for the Society of Jesus: during the research for his “Cristianesimo felice” he was locked in violent argument with them, and was not allowed to consult any of their archives.


Sabin 51419; Sommervogel, II, 890 et V, 37. Conlon, Le siècle des lumières, 54:907

A Counterblast to Foxe: Parsons’ Catholic “Book of Martyrs”

Parsons (or Persons), Robert, S.J. (1546-1610)
A treatise of three conuersions of England from paganisme to Christian religion. The first vnder the Apostles, in the first age after Christ: the second vnder Pope Eleutherius and K. Lucius, in the second age. The third, vnder Pope Gregory the Great, and K. Ethelbert in the sixth age; vvith diuers other matters thereunto apperteyning. Diuided into three partes, as appeareth in the next page. The former two whereof are handled in this booke, and dedicated to the Catholikes of England. VVith a nevv addition to the said Catholikes, vpon the nevvs of the late Q. death. and succession of his Maiestie of Scotland, to the crovvne of England. By N.D. author of the VVard-vvord

Saint Omer: Imprinted [by François Bellet] vvith licence, 1603- 1604


Octavo: 15.2 x 10 cm. 3 vols. (v.1: [72], 658, [32] p.; v.2: [144], 530, [14]; 237, [1] p.; v.3: [116], 465 (recte 475), [21]; 370, [2] p.) Collations: Vol. I: †8, *-3*8, 4*4, A-Z8, Aa-Vv8, Xx2. Vol. II: †-††8, a-g8, A-Z8, Aa-Ll8, A-P8 (P8 blank.) Vol. III: *-7*8, 8*2, A-Z8, Aa-Hh8 (Hh7 and 8 blank); A-Z8, Aa1 (lacking final leaf, presumed blank. Text ends on A1 verso.)

Vol. 2-3 each have title "The third part of a treatise, intituled: of three conuersions of England" (punctuation varies) and imprint date 1604. Each begins with a calendar for half of the year, with Catholic saints on versos and Protestant martyrs (taken from "The book of martyrs" of John Foxe) on rectos, printed in red and black.


ISTC S114212; STC (2nd ed.), 19416; Allison & Rogers, Engl. Counter-Reformation, II, 638

The Diary of Matteo Ricci: The Jesuit Mission in China

Trigault, Nicolas (1577-1628); Ricci, Matteo (1552-1610)
De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Iesu ex P. Matthaei Riccii eiusdem Societatis commentariis libri V. Editio recens ab eodem auctore multis in locis aucta et recognita.

Lyon: Sumptibus Horatii Cardon, Ex typographeio Ioannis Iullieron, 1616


Quarto: 20.2 x 15.4 cm. [16], 628 (i.e. 608), [12] pp. a4, e4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Llll. With the final blank leaf and the folding plan both present.

The Jesuits were convinced that they had to understand China in order to win converts. Accordingly, they adopted Chinese names, dress, and language, traveled extensively, and immersed themselves in Chinese language, philosophy, art, and literature. Ricci was the first Western scholar to master Chinese, and he brought Confucian philosophy to the West. At the same time, Ricci brought to China western mathematics, scientific instruments, cartography, and astronomy, in part through his published works in Chinese, thereby ushering in a new era of Chinese understanding of the world.


Cordier, Sinica 810. De Backer-Sommervogel VIII, 240. Lust 839. Morrison II, 258. Streit V, 2094. J. Gernet, China and the Christian Impact (1985) p. 7. Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit accommodation and the origins of Sinology, Ch. 2.