Jesuit Historiography Online

Jesuit Devotional Literature
(10,913 words)

Charles R. Keenan
[email protected]
Last edited: May 2017


What is Jesuit devotional literature? Unlike many of the other topics included in this collection, what should and should not be classified as “Jesuit devotional literature” is difficult to define with precision, although not for lack of material. The Society of Jesus has produced an incredible amount of printed works in its history, much of which can be described as “devotional,” seeking to move the reader toward deeper piety and religious feeling. When describing the “typographical pietas” of early modern Catholicism, John Bossy explained how such texts “created an intimate version of monastic devotion which promoted individual meditation, silent prayer and interior dialogue with Christ.”1 But such definitions can risk becoming overly elastic, since in the end nearly any text could be meditated upon, and what one reader finds useful the next may find worthless. It is telling that the Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús does not contain a specific entry on devotional writings, and in its brief note for “piété (livres de),” the Dictionnaire de spiritualité declares the category to be “too vague to allow for a determination of [its] limits.”2

For the purposes of this essay, I take “devotional literature” to include manuals for meditation, handbooks for prayer, printed collections of sermons, lives of the saints, and other spiritual and ascetical works. This does not include catechetical works (which are primarily intended to teach the fundamentals of faith, not deepen one’s appreciation of it) and polemical works (written to argue against the religious beliefs of another), and it also excludes scripture itself, which serves as the basis for all devotional writings but is not “authored” in the same sense as other devotional tracts.3 Devotional literature is also popular, both in terms of intended audience (meant for lay readers and written in a straightforward manner) and form (usually cheaply printed in small, portable volumes).4 At the same time, I suggest the adjective “Jesuit” should be interpreted as widely as possible. Rather than simply considering works written by members of the Society of Jesus, we should also include devotional literature that was owned, read, and commended by the Society’s members, as well as works produced by non-Jesuits that are inspired, either directly or indirectly, by Jesuit spirituality.

At present there are few overviews of this specific field. As recently as 1999 John W. O’Malley, S.J. could declare that histories of the Society of Jesus “almost totally abstain from dealing with the history of Jesuit devotion or spirituality,” noting how the few that did failed to integrate the history of devotion into larger narratives.5 In addition to providing an introduction to the existing historiography, therefore, this essay also points toward areas where more research remains to be done.

Bibliographies and Surveys

A first step in approaching the Society’s vast literary production is to catalog its titles and authors.6 This bibliographical tradition dates from the early Society and is exemplified by the 1643 Bibliotheca scriptorum Societatis Iesu, edited by Philippe Algambe (1592–1652), which superseded an earlier list of Jesuit authors compiled by Pedro de Ribadeneyra (1526–1611)(the 1608 Illustrium scriptorum religionis Societatis Iesucatalogus). Such bibliographies were arranged alphabetically by author and, in the case of Algambe’s, sought to highlight the writings’ virtuous qualities. More comprehensive bibliographies appeared in the nineteenth century: first the seven-volume Bibliothèque des écrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus (1853–61) produced by Augustin and Aloïs de Backer (1809–73 and 1823–83, respectively), and later the twelve-volume Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus (1890–30), the first nine volumes of which were compiled by Carlos Sommervogel (1834–1902).7 Both works are largely arranged by author, but include more detail than the pre-suppression bibliographies and sometimes note links between different works (e.g., a translation published under a different title). Sommervogel’s work remains the gold standard for Jesuit bibliography, but László Polgár, a Hungarian Jesuit working out of the Jesuit Historical Institute in Rome, attempted to track twentieth-century titles to supplement Sommervogel’s work, producing a single volume covering the years 1901–80 and annual bibliographies thereafter until his death in 2001.8

Such bibliographies are indispensable resources for those interested in Jesuit devotional literature, but they are not without their limitations. Its thoroughness notwithstanding, even Sommervogel’s Bibliothèque remains incomplete and contains the occasional error. Moreover, until recently these bibliographies only included works written by Jesuit authors, not about Jesuits and their spirituality. One early exception is Auguste Carayon’s (1813–74) Bibliographie historique de la Compagnie de Jésus, but for devotional literature it, too, proves difficult to navigate, since the large first section is arranged chronologically, the fourth is arranged biographically, and the fifth is a mixture of “satires, pamphlets, apologies, etc.”9 The only thematic section, on missions, does not single out devotional titles. Thus, anyone interested in devotional literature must already know the authors or titles of the works in question to utilize these bibliographies effectively.10

Beyond bibliographies, one survey must be named in particular: Joseph de Guibert’s (1877–1942) La spiritualité de la Compagnie de Jésus, which first appeared in 1953.11 The book was commissioned by Włodzimierz Ledóchowski (1866–1942), superior general of the Society from 1915 until 1942, and was meant to provide a much–needed overview of the Society’s spirituality, especially for Jesuits in formation. The text is organized into three main sections: the first on Ignatius and his spirituality; the second, a rapid overview of Jesuit spirituality from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries; and a final section examining recurring themes in Jesuit spirituality over the years, such as mental prayer, spiritual exercises, and the imitation of Christ. Throughout, de Guibert is interested in how the devotional practices of Ignatius compare to those of later Jesuits, and he underlines this continuity whenever possible. De Guibert’s work remains one of the best points of reference for Jesuit spiritual writings: even if it only skims over the surface, it is replete with lists of authors and the titles of hundreds of printed works. If anything, it can be too narrowly focused on Jesuit writings themselves, without consideration for the contexts in which they were written.12

A second noteworthy text is Jean-François Gilmont’s Les écrits spirituels des premiers jésuites (1961).13 A historian who has done extensive research on connections between printing and the Reformation, Gilmont offers a masterful introduction to the spiritual writings of the early Jesuits, beginning with Ignatius and continuing through the writings of his famous companions such as Francis Xavier (1506–52) and Diego Laínez (1512–65) as well as authors that are much lesser–known today, including Gaspar Loarte (c.1498–1576) and Frans de Costere (1532–1619). Gilmont offers summaries and context for each work, and he includes a helpful chronology of the titles under consideration. Unfortunately the book does not extend into the seventeenth century, when the Jesuits produced a large number of devotional texts. Ignacio Iparraguirre’s Répertoire de spiritualité ignatienne, de la mort de saint Ignace à celle du P. Aquaviva (1961), covers much of the same period as Gilmont and includes a greater number of titles, though with less information about each one.14

Devotional Literature in the Early Society

Any discussion of Jesuit devotional literature must begin with the Society’s founder, Ignatius of Loyola (c.1491–1556), whose own conversion experience was rooted in such literature. While recuperating from a leg injury following the battle of Pamplona (1521), Ignatius lay in bed reading two texts that had been translated into Spanish: the Legenda aurea, or Golden Legend, of Jacob of Voragine (c.1230–98), which offered brief sketches of different saints’ lives; and the Vita Christi, or Life of Christ, written by Ludolph of Saxony (c.1295–1378).15 Scholars have thus sought to situate Ignatius’s experience within the context of late medieval spirituality, asking what currents shaped both Ignatius’s own spirituality and that of his nascent order.16 Other historians have examined specific devotional works that influenced Ignatius, including the two aforementioned titles, books of hours, and the Imitation of Christ.17 The latter, a fifteenth-century text attributed to Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471), is emblematic of the larger devotio moderna movement that emphasized interiority, contemplation, and the reading of scripture. It is one of the only works Ignatius explicitly recommends in the Spiritual Exercises, and as Maximilian von Habsburg has demonstrated, the Jesuits were instrumental in its proliferation throughout the early modern period.18

If Ignatius appreciated the value of devotional literature from the outset, it would nevertheless take some time before similar works were written by Jesuits themselves. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises are not meant to be read in the same manner as other devotional texts, and in theory they should always be made in dialogue with a spiritual director.19 In fact, although the early Jesuits were active in preaching, hearing confessions, and otherwise ministering to laypeople, Ignatius seems not to have envisioned the Society as a group of authors who would primarily minister through the printed word. The Constitutions say little about book publication, and of the few sections that deal with the subject, most reiterate the need for a manuscript to be reviewed prior to publication, and even then to be published only “if it [were] judged apt to edify.”20 Some were openly skeptical of the endeavor: Alfonso Salmerón (1515–85) declared that publishing books could be “an obstacle to more excellent works of charity.”21

Especially given their initial reluctance to engage in writing and publishing, the Jesuits’ extensive literary output demands explanation. At a functional level, the increase in Jesuit publication may have been tied to their growing role in educational enterprises.22 But scholars have tended to agree that this writing, especially of devotional works, was part of the Jesuits’ larger ministry of the word. It was an extension of their preaching, teaching, hearing confessions, and other pastoral actions—in A. Lynn Martin’s words, “The attitude of the Jesuits was that the entire corpus of their literary work had the same ultimate end of saving souls to the glory of God.”23 Again and again we learn that a certain devotional treatise grew out of a Jesuit’s preaching and teaching, or from his notes from giving spiritual direction, or, in some cases, the laity themselves requested that a work was written. All of these efforts sought to effect conversion or to deepen one’s piety and religious sentiment. In his brief but influential lectures published as The Spirit of the Counter-Reformation (1968), H. Outram Evennett argued that the Jesuits were the “outstanding representatives” of the new religious mentality of Catholicism in the wake of the Reformation. Evennett highlighted not only Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises as an example of this new approach, but also the general dedication of the Jesuits to meditation and an active spiritual life, things best exemplified by the devotional texts the order produced.24

Despite there being few overviews of Jesuit devotional writing as a whole, much more has been written about specific authors and their respective works. Early scholarship on Jesuit spiritual writers tends to have been written by other Jesuits, primarily for the edification of the Society’s own members. De Guibert fits this trend, but so do other works focused on specific authors, such as Miguel Nicolau’s excellent study of Jerónimo Nadal (1507–80), which not only examines the Jesuit’s spiritual writings, but also offers a broader image of Nadal’s spirituality and explores how Nadal’s writings on prayer and contemplation compare to those of his contemporaries.25

Older studies also tend to focus on the most famous Jesuits, almost all of whom were part of the first generation of the Society. Scholars have since chosen to concentrate on forgotten Jesuits (including those who lived after the Society’s foundation) and works that were best–sellers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but have since been forgotten. John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., for instance, has called attention the Ejercicio de perfección y virtudes christianas of Alonso Rodríguez (1538–1616), which appeared in more than three hundred different editions in twenty-three languages.26 More recently Scott Hendrickson has written a useful study of Juan Eusebio Nieremberg (1595–1658), a Spanish Jesuit who was also a prolific author, producing nearly eighty different works in his lifetime. Like Rodríguez, Nieremberg’s writings were exceptionally popular: his 1640 De la diferencia entre lo temporal y eterno appeared in seventy-five editions in various languages.27 At the same time, more attention is being paid to the spiritual writings of Jesuits who are better known in other roles or for other writings. Peter Canisius (1521–97), famous for his catechisms, also wrote treatises that were more strictly devotional, such as his Hortulus animae (1563), Manuale catholicorum (1587), and Notae in evangelicas lectiones (1591–93), just as Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), best known as a controversialist and political theorist, produced a number of devotional works toward the end of his life, including De ascensione mentis in Deum (1615), De septem verbis a Christo in cruce prolatis (1618), and De arte bene moriendi (1620). All of these were translated into other languages and printed multiple times.28

Parallel to this is a growing number of editions of devotional treatises, especially within the last decade (though many of these titles have appeared in popular printings for years). Rodríguez’s Ejercicio is now available in a scholarly edition, as are Nadal’s Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia (1594) in three volumes complete with reproductions of early modern engravings.29 In addition, the Institute of Jesuit Sources at Boston College has begun a series on “Sources for the History of Jesuit Spirituality,” whose first two titles include La doctrine spirituelle (1694) of Louis Lallemant (1588–1635) and Gaspar Loarte’s Esercitio della vita christiana (1557).30

The subjects of Jesuit devotional writings range widely, and a single work might treat many different topics within its pages. Many are themes commonly treated in other Catholic devotional works: the life and the passion of Christ, different scenes from the Bible, lives of the saints, and the rosary.31 Four topics, however, are especially identified with the Society of Jesus. The first is frequent Communion. During the Middle Ages it was common for the laity to receive Communion only a handful of times a year, since it was deemed difficult to be worthy of receiving the sacrament. Ignatius and the first Jesuits, on the other hand, encouraged laypeople to receive the sacrament regularly—weekly, if not more often—and some of the earliest Jesuit publications were devoted to this theme, including Cristóbal de Madrid’s (1503–73) De frequenti usu sanctissimi Eucharistiae sacramenti libellus (1557) and Fulvio Androzzi’s (1524–75) Della frequenza della Communione (1579). This position was not uncontroversial, and Jesuit authors would be forced to defend the practice of frequent Communion in writing, especially when faced with critiques from Jansenists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The historiography on this topic mirrors general patterns for Jesuit devotional literature. Where earlier scholars like Sommervogel and de Guibert diligently compiled lists of Jesuit works addressing frequent Communion, recent studies have explored the social contexts in which such writings were used, including in the Jesuit direction of lay confraternities.32

A second category of devotional writings relate to the sacrament of confession. This penitential literature, popularized by the Jesuits, was written for two distinct audiences: the laity who were to confess their sins, and the confessors who would hear them. Juan de Polanco’s (1517–1576) Directorium breve ad confessarii... (1554), written at Ignatius’s request, was the first such manual to be printed and would remain the standard until the sixteenth century, when Jesuit theologians began to probe the complexities of moral theology that could arise in confession, asking how individual cases should be treated given a lack of absolute clarity in precepts and the possibility of mitigating circumstances.33 Scholars have examined in detail the development of these fields, known as casuistry and probabilism, as well as how the Jesuits were eventually attached on the grounds that such flexibility led to moral laxism.34 Besides noting the proliferation of various guides to confession, such as Loarte’s Avisi di sacerdoti et confessori (1579), many studies investigate how the Jesuits approached confession in practice and how such manuals were linked to the broader currents of Jesuit spirituality.35

A third recurring theme is devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here too, although this devotion predated the Society’s foundation, the Jesuits would be influential in its spread, producing a number of treatises written on the subject. Álvarez de Paz (1560–1620), Luis de la Puente (1554–1624), and Kasper Drużbicki’s (1589–1662) all wrote about the Sacred Heart, but the devotion is particularly tied to the Society through the life of Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–90), a Visitationist sister who claimed to have received private revelations about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Claude La Colombière (1641–82) was Margaret Mary’s spiritual director and, after finding her stories credible, commended the devotion to others. Following Margaret Mary’s death another Jesuit, Jean Croiset (1656–1738), wrote an account of her life and penned the Dévotion au Sacré Coeur de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1691), which became one of the most widely–reproduced books on the subject.36 Scholarship has shifted from producing bibliographies of Jesuit works on the Sacred Heart to investigating the larger social and cultural significance of the Society’s promotion of this devotion in specific periods and locales.37

A final recurring subject in Jesuit devotional works are the lives of other Jesuits, especially those who were canonized. Written especially for other members of the Society, such accounts often center either on Ignatius and the first Jesuits or on Jesuit missionaries and martyrs. Ribadeneyra’s Vita of Ignatius (1583) reflects a desire to preserve the memory of Ignatius as his contemporaries aged and passed away, the same impulse that lay behind the efforts of Niccolò Orlandini (1554–1606) and Francesco Sacchini (1570–1625) to write histories of the Society and biographies of individual Jesuits.38 Accounts of Francis Xavier’s life were among the most popular and were frequently printed in missionary contexts abroad.39 These texts sought to highlight the individual’s virtue for emulation by others, and as such, they functioned like other hagiographies, a widespread form of devotional literature. Historians and literary critics have also noted the importance of martyrologies in the construction of devotional communities.40 In the early modern period examples of Jesuit martyrs in England, including Edmund Campion (1540–81) and Henry Garnet (1555–1606), were especially well-known, but so too were missionaries who died for the faith in distant lands, including Rodolfo Acquaviva (1550–83) and his companions, who were killed in India in 1583. Similarly, the letters and reports produced by Jesuit missionaries around the world reporting their activities (such as the Relations and the litterae annuae) as well as the litterae indipetae (letters written by men asking to be sent to the Indies) circulated widely in Europe and were instrumental in furthering recruitment to the Society. Scholars have begun to explore the relationship between these texts and the Society’s vocations. Pierre-Antoine Fabre, for example, has argued that the indipetae can be read as a form of meditation and an extension of Jesuits’ experience of the Spiritual Exercises.41

One other aspect deserves to be mentioned. Where earlier studies focused on the lives of individual authors, recent scholarship is interested in the broader cultural trends that influenced Jesuit devotional writings. To begin, scholars have investigated how the same currents of late medieval Christianity that influenced Ignatius affected other Jesuit authors. We know, for instance, that Nieremberg produced a popular translation of the Imitation of Christ, and that a 1581 list of books recommended for novice masters included the Imitation of Christ, Vita Christi, and other medieval titles.42 The Jesuits also continued to commend devotional works from the Middle Ages even after they began to write their own books, especially titles tied to the devotio moderna. Works like the Imitation of Christ and Meditationes vitae Christi offered a style of contemplation and meditation that reinforced the devotional practices of the nascent order, often focusing on the life and passion of Christ.43 In addition, scholars have explored how Jesuit authors were influenced by other writers and members of other religious orders. At times this was explicit, such as when the Jesuits chose to reprint or translate the devotional writings of others, but other connections were less obvious. The medieval Franciscan tradition, with its focus on the human suffering of Christ, was especially influential, as were Carthusians from Cologne and Spanish religious figures from the early sixteenth century.44 The latter group included Juan de Ávila (1499–1569), a new Christian who was devoted to teaching ascetical practices to the laity, something that mirrored the efforts of Ignatius and the early Jesuits.45 Among Ávila’s followers were two future Jesuits, the aforementioned Gaspar Loarte, who would write numerous devotional tracts during his life, and Diego de Guzmán (1522–1606), who penned the Modo per insegnar con frutto la dottrina christiana (1585).46 Ávila’s emphasis on mental prayer (silent, individual contemplation as opposed to the spoken repetition of pre-formulated prayers) surely had an impact on these men and thus on Jesuit devotional literature—the sixth chapter of Loarte’s Esercitio discusses how readers should practice mental prayer, for example.

Much more remains to be understood about such connections, especially in the period following the sixteenth century. What has been outlined above comes from comments in studies devoted to other topics, but even this overview underlines how Jesuit spirituality stood in conscious relationship to other mystical and ascetical traditions. There are also connections between different Jesuit devotional writings that remain to be explored. The lasting influence of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, for instance, can be seen not only in the titles of works such as Rodríguez’s Ejercicio and Loarte’s Esercitio but also in commentaries on the Exercises themselves, including Luis de Guzmán’s (1544–1605) Libro sobre los Exercicios (1605) and Luis de la Palma’s (1559–1641) Camino espiritual (1626).

Publishers, Translators, Readers, and Censors

In recent decades the history of the book has gone through important methodological changes and a vast new body of research on printing, reading, and censorship has appeared. While often not directly focused on the Society of Jesus, these studies offer important new perspectives that can help inform the history of Jesuit devotional writing.47

The Roman College obtained its own printing press in 1556, and Olaf Hein and Rolf Mader’s research demonstrates that although most of the college’s publications were intended for the Society’s own use, there were some devotional titles printed there, including Madrid’s book on frequent Communion (1557) and Loarte’s instructions for meditating upon Christ’s passion (1570).48 This limited output suggests that most Jesuit devotional texts were printed by commercial printers outside of the Society, and by examining the offerings of various printing houses, it is clear that printers concentrated on publishing devotional works and could reprint the same title multiple times, if needed.49 Research on the market for early modern religious writings offers general patterns that would hold true for Jesuit titles as well: devotional titles were exceedingly popular and were the most commonly-owned type of book; booksellers stocked them as a large percentage of total offerings; such printings were cheaply-produced and meant to be portable; publishers could combine different texts together in a single volume; etc.50

Historians have also studied the subsequent translation of Jesuit works into other languages. According to a preliminary count by Peter Burke, around 260 Jesuits engaged in translation in the early modern period, most of whom were active during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries—the same period that saw an increase in the production of Jesuit devotional texts as a whole.51 One should also note the decision of Jesuits to translate devotional works by non-Jesuits (especially the Imitation of Christ, but also other titles by Luis de Granada, Francis de Sales, and others) as well as the translation of Jesuit titles by non-Jesuits. This confirms Carlos M. N. Eire’s research on Catholic translations in early modern Europe in general, suggesting that Jesuit translators were not unusual in their patterns of work.52

One important element that could come with publication was the addition of illustrations or engravings to devotional works. In some cases printers reused the same woodcuts for multiple titles, but in others, images would specifically be commissioned for a given work. No matter their origin, such images were integral to how individuals approached devotional literature, since they were meant to complement the text and deepen a reader’s religious experience, although decisions about illustrations were often made by the printer, not the author.53 Studies on the artwork accompanying Jesuit devotional works has tended to follow the same trends as devotional literature as a whole, focusing on the most famous Jesuits and the most famous works. Perhaps the best-studied example is Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines, published between 1593 and 1595 with illustrations done by Anton, Hieronymus and Jan Wierix (1552–1604; 1553–1619; and 1549–1618, respectively). Scholars have examined not only the images themselves, but also the impetus behind this composite work and its internal logic. Ignatius himself requested that Nadal write this book, and, as Thomas Buser explains, “the format and content of the book derive naturally from an amplification of the ‘composition of place’ or mental reconstruction of the scene that St. Ignatius recommends as a prelude to the contemplation of the life of Christ in his Spiritual Exercises.”54 At the same time, much remains to be explored about the connections between devotional writing and other forms of sacred art and architecture. Jeffrey Chipps Smith has argued for a connection between Jesuit spirituality and architecture in German-speaking lands, suggesting, for instance, that wall decorations in a church in Neuburg an der Donau were inspired by the Pancarpium marianum, a 1607 text written by Jan David (1546–1613).55 It is reasonable to assume similar instances of shared devotional content appeared across the early modern world, such that the broader impact of “devotional literature” needs to be taken into account.

Scholars have also asked who owned and read these devotional works. One approach that has borne fruit is to examine the holdings of Jesuit libraries. Brendan Connolly’s dissertation on Jesuit libraries should be mentioned as an important starting place in this endeavor, but recent research by Kathleen M. Comerford, Natale Vacalebre, and Valentino Romani, among others, offers new information that can help us understand what books the Society found important enough to own.56 By examining available inventories it becomes obvious that devotional materials written both by Jesuits and non-Jesuits were part of every Jesuit library. It is also likely Jesuits themselves would have been reading these books given the instructions repeated over the first century of the Society’s existence, from Ignatius’s general recommendations that exercitants read devotional literature to the more formal lists of recommended reading for novices, which included titles by both Jesuits and externs.57

There were also devotional texts that Jesuits were forbidden to read. The history of censorship has grown exponentially in recent years, and one can mine recent scholarship for mention of Jesuit figures and titles.58 This literature reveals the complexity of the relationship between Jesuit authors, readers, and the instruments of ecclesiastical censorship. As Stefania Pastore and Sabina Pavone have explained in detail, Ignatius and his first companions came under the Inquisition’s scrutiny from the very beginning, and that inquisitors would continue to monitor devotional writings produced by the Society as well as those associated with it—for example, the Obras del cristiano, allegedly (but not actually) written by Francisco Borja, was placed on the 1559 Index of Prohibited Books.59 Simultaneously, Jesuit superiors attempted to control which devotional authors would be read by the Society. Everard Mercurian (1514–1580), superior general from 1573 to 1580, allowed for writings by “heretical authors on nonreligious subjects” to be kept but only used with permission. This group included Savonarola (1452–1498) and Johann Gropper (1503–1559), both of whose works had been placed on the Index. Mercurian recommended some late medieval authors like Ludolph of Saxony and Thomas à Kempis, but he discouraged the reading of others, including Johannes Tauler (c.1300–61) and Jan van Ruusbroec (1293–1381).60 A final area where much remains to be explored is the role of Jesuit censors, both within the Society (i.e., those who reviewed books for publication in accordance with the Constitutions) and those men who were either members of, or consultants to, the Congregation of the Index and the Roman Inquisition, including Diego Laínez, Juan de Polanco, and Robert Bellarmine.61


A subcategory of studies related to Jesuit devotional literature explores how such writings were used in the context of Jesuit missions abroad. Unsurprisingly, scholarship in this field follows the same patterns as research on Jesuit missions in general: the most sophisticated and largest number of studies center on the Chinese mission, with decreasing numbers devoted to devotional literature in Japan, Latin America, India, and North America, with very few studies on the Levant and Africa. Even then, this line of research tends to exist in isolation, removed from the studies of European devotional literature outlined above. As Ronnie Po-chia Hsia has recently observed: “A desideratum would be to connect the reception of the Catholic missionary press to the larger cultural and intellectual trends in Europe.”62

A first step is the creation of bibliographies listing works that were produced in or for missions. Over a century ago Ernest Mason Satow and Johannes Laures created a pioneering bibliographies of Jesuit works in Japan.63 An effort by Erik Zürcher to catalog primary sources related to the Jesuit mission in China has been continued by Nicolas Standaert and Ad Dudink, and the resulting “Chinese Christian Texts Database” (CCT) is now available online through the Catholic University of Leuven.64 The CCT database contains both primary and secondary sources, though, like the other bibliographies mentioned above, it is more easily navigable if one already knows the author(s) or devotional work(s) in question. Beyond such bibliographies, there also are other studies that focus on mission presses in specific contexts.65

Scholars have been especially interested in the mechanics of publication abroad. Unlike in Europe, where Jesuit texts were usually printed by lay printers, in missions the Jesuits were more likely to operate their own press. The college in Goa received a printing press in 1556, the same year one was installed at the Roman College, and Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606) requested a press be sent to Japan shortly after his arrival in 1579.66 Printing abroad presented certain challenges, the first being what typeface to use, a Latinized alphabet or specialized woodblocks for the characters of other languages. A second issue was translation: not only the difficulties involved in learning new languages but also deciding how to render theological concepts in them.67 Recent studies have also emphasized the important role of lay converts in the translation process.68

From bibliographies of the mission presses, we know the majority of devotional texts the Jesuits produced were simply translations of pre-existing European titles. Other works were compilations drawn from several different titles—for instance, the Tianzhu shengjiao nianjing zongdu (1628), which included a variety of prayers—or synopses of them, including Giulio Aleni’s (1582–1649) summary of the four Gospels in Chinese (1635).69 The same themes tended to be exported abroad as well. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, for example, was spread through literature written by Jesuit missionaries, creating what J. Michelle Molina has called a “heart-shaped world.”70 Penitential literature would likewise appear in colonial contexts. One example is Aleni’s Dizui zenggui (1627), which offered an overview of acts – organized around the Ten Commandments – that might be considered sins, a way of helping Chinese prepare for confession.71 In addition, it is clear that mission presses published a number of works by non-Jesuit authors. Among the most common titles published in Japan were translations of the Imitation of Christ and Luis de Granada’s Guía de pecadores, for instance.72 These translations could themselves be based on other translations, creating several layers of editorial mediation. As one example, Li Sher-shiueh has recently examined the complicated history of Manuel Dias’s (1574–1659) translation of the Imitation of Christ into Chinese, which was at least partially based on Luis de Granada’s earlier Spanish translation of the work.73

To this, one might add research on devotional literature produced in England, where small devotional manuals proved to be an effective tool complementing the activities of Jesuits working covertly in the kingdom. There are numerous studies devoted to Catholic devotional writing in early modern England, beginning with A. C. Southern’s pioneering study of “recusant prose.”74 Anthony F. Allison and David M. Rogers’s inventory of Catholic titles remains an invaluable bibliographical resource for those interested in such works, and it can now be supplemented by Thomas H. Clancy’s study of Jesuit literary production during the seventeenth century.75 Especially interesting are cases of devotional works being adapted by Puritan authors, the most famous example being Robert Persons’s (1546–1610) The First Book of Christian Exercise (1582), which was revised and published in 1584 by Edmund Bunny (1540–1619), an Anglican clergyman.76 Persons revised his own text and published a new edition in 1585, to which Bunny replied in a Brief Answer four years later.77 The entire episode points not only to the contested nature of devotional literature, but also how such works proved to be popular even across confessional divisions. What is more, Persons’s work was not the only example of this phenomenon. J. M. Blom, for instance, has noted the popularity of the German Jesuit Jeremias Drexelius’s (1581–1638) devotional writings among Protestant readers in England, to the extent that even the bishop of London approved of their translation and publication.78

Suppression, Restoration, and beyond

In 1773, Pope Clement XIV (r.1769–74) universally suppressed the Society of Jesus, and in 1814 Pius VII (r.1800–23) universally restored it. In general historiography on the “new” or “restored” Society is much more limited than the pre–suppression period, a trend that holds true for devotional literature as well.79 As before, there is no single overview to Jesuit devotional literature for this period, but the volumes of Sommervogel et al. do include titles through the beginning of the twentieth century. De Guibert remains the best introduction for this period, since his overview of spiritual authors and writings continues to 1940. He remains focused on the question of continuity or discontinuity in the spirituality of the old and new Societies.80

Individual studies on the restored Society offer some information about Jesuit authors and their devotional writings. Scholarship on the suppression has increased in recent years, with studies on ex-Jesuits in Germany, Italy, and the United States, as well as the small number of Jesuits who were protected in Catherine the Great’s Russia.81 Even a cursory survey suggests the writing of Jesuit devotional literature did not cease with the Society’s suppression, as seen in a 1792 edition of Prayers and Devout Instructions, which contained prayers to the Jesuit saint Luigi Gonzaga (1568–91), or the Pious Guide to Prayer and Devotion, published by ex-Jesuits in the United States in 1791.82 The involvement of former Jesuits in lay congregations also provided an audience for devotional writings, as in the Amicizia cristiana, a lay community in Turin, where devotional literature continued to circulate.83

The growing number of studies on the restored Society suggests two overarching practices regarding devotional literature. The first is that devotional texts from the “old” Society continued to circulate and be printed in new editions. For example, Dominique Bouhours’s (1628–1702) lives of Ignatius and Francis Xavier were republished in the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States, as were Gaspar Loarte’s meditations on the rosary and the passion during the same period.84 Often these works were intended for Jesuits themselves, especially those still in formation: copies of Rodríguez’s Ejercicio continued to be found in Jesuit novitiates around the world, as were variations of a Thesaurus spiritualis, which often contained the Spiritual Exercises as well as different meditations and spiritual writings, or the Liber devotionum, widely distributed to American Jesuits and which offered content similar to other prayer books, including devotions to the Sacred Heart, Mary, and St. Joseph.85

A second theme is the standardization of devotional practices, and thus of devotional texts, across the Catholic world beginning in the nineteenth century. American Jesuit Spirituality, a collection edited by Robert Emmett Curran, offers a sampling of various texts written by Jesuits from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries and confirms that most devotional texts used by the Jesuits in the United States were imported from Europe. One reads, for example, of Benedetto Sestini (1816–90), an Italian Jesuit who moved to Georgetown University and founded The Messenger of the Sacred Heart, a periodical aimed to promote that devotion but whose articles were largely drawn from other sources, such as Le Messager du Sacré Coeur de Jésus, a French periodical dedicated to the same topic.86 These findings have been confirmed by other studies of the American Jesuits, where scholars such Gerald McKevitt have suggested the Italian Jesuits working in the western United States “sought to bring their long-marooned congregations in line with the universal church [...] by introducing them to the religious practices and theological values found elsewhere in nineteenth-century Catholicism.”87 Devotions such as that to the Sacred Heart, McKevitt argues, were part of a “transnational devotionalism.” This is true even at the logistical level, as John T. McGreevy has noted that most devotional works used by American Jesuits were printed in Europe or were European titles reprinted in the United States.88

For the twentieth century, and especially post-Vatican II, much focus has been placed on understanding the “charism” or “distinctiveness” of the Society of Jesus, which is closely tied to the devotional practices of the first Jesuits.89 This has followed two paths: first, locating and reproducing Jesuit devotional writings themselves; and second, attempting to translate that spirituality into the context of the modern world. For the former, one can point to the efforts of the Jesuit curia to gather papers related to the history of the Society in the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, or the Institute of Jesuit Sources’s parallel effort to provide English translations of important texts. Similarly, numerous issues of Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits, the journal of the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality in the United States, address topics related to devotional literature. Notable, too, are efforts to “update” devotional works from the early Society, above all Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises.90 This has also given rise to studies in “Ignatian” spirituality, a distinct subset of Jesuit spirituality that is rooted above all in the Spiritual Exercises.91

The audience for such devotional works is also shifting. While much of what was written prior to the twentieth century was intended for the Society’s own use, more and more books on Jesuit spirituality are clearly intended for the laity, and indeed, might be written by laypersons as well. One can consider William A. Barry, S.J., who has written extensively on spiritual direction and prayer; or James Martin, S.J. (b.1960), whose books treat some of the same themes as devotional literature prior to the suppression, including lives of the saints and meditations on the passion of Christ.92 The many works of Margaret Silf (b.1945) are likewise similar to those of the first Jesuit authors, since they are written so as to be “accessible to people with no theological background.”93


This essay can only provide the broadest overview of historiography related to the vast field of Jesuit devotional literature, but even from this high level, several themes emerge. The first is a gradual broadening in focus: not only in terms of the authors under consideration (with growing interest in figures such as Loarte, Lallement, and Nieremberg) but also the recovery of titles that have largely been forgotten (such as Rodríguez’s Ejercicio). The second is an acknowledgment of outside influences on the Society’s spirituality. Although scholars have long been interested in the sources of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, they are increasingly interested in the literary influences on other authors as well as the social and cultural factors that shaped their writings (the development of the printing press and European colonialism, for instance). Lastly, there remains an underlying consistency in the subject matter itself. Despite the multitude of authors producing thousands of different works around the world, the central message of these devotional treatises remains tied to the Gospels, the life of Christ, or one of the devotions common to the Society (such as that of the Sacred Heart or Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises). Moreover, the popularity of Jesuit devotional literature over the centuries is undeniable. This is evidenced not only by the total number of titles written, but also by the multiple printings and translations of those same titles—often centuries after they were first published—as well as their many readers, both inside and outside the Society of Jesus.


^ Back to text1. Abbreviations used:AHSI =Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu; JJS = The Journal of Jesuit Studies; The Jesuits I =The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley, S.J., Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Steven J. Harris, and T. Frank Kennedy, S.J. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999).; The Jesuits II = The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley, S.J., Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Steven J. Harris, and T. Frank Kennedy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006).; Sommervogel, X = Carlos Sommervogel, S.J., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, t. 10, ed. Pierre Bliard, S.J. (Paris: Librairie Alphonse Picard et fils, 1909).; John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 1400–1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 101.

^ Back to text2. There is an entry on literatura in general, however. Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús, eds. Charles E. O’Neill, S.I., and Joaquín M.a Domínguez, S.I. (Rome: Institutum Historicum S. I., 2001), 3:2369–85; Dictionnaire de spiritualité: ascétique et mystique, doctrine et histoire, vol. 12 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1986), col. 1743.

^ Back to text3. Cf. alternative definitions in Carlos M. N. Eire, “Early Modern Catholic Piety in Translation,” in Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe, eds. Peter Burke and Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 83–100, here 85–86; and Lance Lazar, “The Formation of the Pious Soul: Transalpine Demand for Jesuit Devotional Texts,” in Confessionalization in Europe, 1555–1700: Essays in Honor and Memory of Bodo Nischan, ed. John Headley, Hans Hillerbrand, and Anthony J. Papalas (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004), 289–318.

^ Back to text4. Lazar, 299–300. See also Paul F. Grendler, “Form and Function in Italian Renaissance Books,” Renaissance Quarterly 46, no. 3 (1993): 451–85.

^ Back to text5. John W. O’Malley, S.J., “The Historiography of the Society of Jesus: Where Does It Stand Today?” in The Jesuits I, 3–37, here 18.

^ Back to text6. A concise overview can be found in Kasper Volk and Chris Staysniak, “Bringing Jesuit Bibliography into the Twenty-First Century: Boston College’s New Sommervogel Online,” JJS 3, no. 1 (2016): 61–83 (64–69) [doi: 10.1163/22141332-00301004]. Robert Danieluk, La Bibliothèque de Carlos Sommervogel: Le Sommet de l’oeuvre bibliographique de la Compagnie de Jésus (1890–1932) (Rome: Institutum Historicum S. I., 2006) offers much more detail on this entire history.

^ Back to text7. The tenth (Tables) and eleventh (Histoire) volumes were compiled by Pierre Bliard; the twelfth (Supplement) by Ernest M. Rivière.

^ Back to text8. László Polgár, S.J., Bibliographie sur l’histoire de la Compagnie de Jésus, 1901–1980 (Rome: Institutum Historicum S.I., 1981). His annual bibliographies can be found in volumes 51 through 70 of the AHSI (1982–2001). Paul Begheyn, S.J., has continued this work, though he notes readers seeking a more detailed bibliography on Jesuit spirituality should consult the journal Manresa: Revista de espiritualidad ignaciana. One may also consult the journal Ignaziana, published by Istituto di Spiritualità at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

^ Back to text9. Auguste Carayon, Bibliographie historique de la Compagnie de Jésus, ou, Catalogue des ouvrages relatifs à l’histoire des jésuites depuis leur origine jusqu’à nos jours (Paris: Auguste Durand, 1864).

^ Back to text10. Polgár and Begheyn began to address this issue in their AHSI bibliographies by including thematic categories in addition to biographical and geographical ones. “Spirituality” and “literature” are among the thematic categories included.

^ Back to text11. Joseph de Guibert, S.J., La spiritualité de la Compagnie de Jésus: Esquisse historique (Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1953). It is available in English as The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice: A Historical Study, trans. William J. Young, S.J. (Chicago: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1964). Subsequent citations are from this translation.

^ Back to text12. See John W. O’Malley’s comments in “De Guibert and Jesuit Authenticity,” Woodstock Letters 95 (1966): 103–10.

^ Back to text13. Jean-François Gilmont, S.J., Les écrits spirituels des premiers jésuites: Inventaire commenté (Rome: Institutum Historicum S. I., 1961).

^ Back to text14. Ignacio Iparraguirre, S.J., Répertoire de spiritualité ignatienne, de la mort de saint Ignace à celle du P. Aquaviva (1556–1615) (Rome: Institutum historicum S. I., 1961).

^ Back to text15. Ignatius of Loyola: Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works, ed. George E. Ganss (New York: Paulist Press, 1991), 15–26.

^ Back to text16. Lu Ann Homza, “The Religious Milieu of the Young Ignatius,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits, ed. Thomas Worcester, S.J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 13–31; Mark Rotsaert, S.J., “L’originalité des Exercices Spirituels d’Ignace de Loyola sur l’arrière–fond des renouveaux spirituels en Castille au début du seizième siècle,” in Ignacio de Loyola y su tiempo: Congreso internacional de historia, 9–13 septiembre 1991, ed. Juan Plazaola (Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto, 1992), 329–41. Hugo Rahner, however, cautioned against focusing too narrowly on the works Ignatius had by his bed: Ignatius von Loyola und das geschichtliche Werden seiner Frömmigkeit (Graz: Anton Pustet, 1949).

^ Back to text17. Pedro Leturia, Estudios ignacianos. Volume II: Estudios espirituales, ed. Ignacio Iparraguirre (Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1957), esp. 73–88 and 99–148.

^ Back to text18. The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, trans. George E. Ganss, S.J. (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992), §100; Maximilian von Habsburg, Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi, 1425–1650: From Late Medieval Classic to Early Modern Bestseller (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011). Cf. Sommervogel, 10: cols. 404–5.

^ Back to text19. However, more narrative adaptations of Ignatius’s Exercises would eventually be penned by Jesuits, such as Tomas de Villacastin’s (1570–1649) Manual de ejercicios espirituales para tener oración mental (1612).

^ Back to text20. The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Complementary Norms: A Complete English Translation of the Official Latin Text, trans. George E. Ganss, S.J. (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996), §§ 653, 273. Cf. Complementary Norm 296.

^ Back to text21. Quoted in O’Malley, First Jesuits, 114.

^ Back to text22. O’Malley, First Jesuits, 114–15.

^ Back to text23. A. Lynn Martin, The Jesuit Mind: The Mentality of an Elite in Early Modern France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), 70–71.

^ Back to text24. H. Outram Evennett, The Spirit of the Counter-Reformation, ed. John Bossy (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968), esp. 40–42, 76.

^ Back to text25. Miguel Nicolau, S.J., Jerónimo Nadal, S.I. (1507–1580): Sus obras y doctrinas espirituales (Madrid: Consejo superior de investigaciones científicas—Instituto Francisco Suárez, 1949). See also William V. Bangert, S.J., Jerome Nadal, S.J. 1507–1580: Tracking the First Generation of Jesuits, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1992).

^ Back to text26. John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., “Alonso Rodríguez’s Ejercicio: A Neglected Classic,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 11, no. 2 (1980): 16–24, here 17.

^ Back to text27. D. Scott Hendrickson, Jesuit Polymath of Madrid: The Literary Enterprise of Juan Eusebio Nieremberg (1595–1658) (Leiden: Brill, 2015), with information on this work at 131. See also Ignacio Iparraguirre, “Un escritor ascético olvidado: El Padre Juan Eusebio Nieremberg (1595–1658),” Estudios eclesiásticos 32 (1958): 427–48.

^ Back to text28. On Canisius: Hilmar M. Pabel, “Meditation in the Service of Catholic Orthodoxy: Peter Canisius’ Notae Evangelicae,” in Meditatio—Refashioning the Self: Theory and Practice in Late Medieval and Early Modern Intellectual Culture, eds. Karl Enenkel and Walter Melion (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 257–89; Pabel, “Interior Sight in Peter Canisius’ Meditations on Advent,” in Jesuit Image Theory, eds. Wietse de Boer, Karl A. E. Enenkel, and Walter S. Melion (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 254–88; Paul Knopp, “Der heilige Petrus Canisius: Ein Mann des Gebetes,” Analecta Coloniensia 2 (2002): 135–86. On Bellarmine: Emmerich Raitz von Frentz, “Les oeuvres ascétiques du B. Cardinal Robert Bellarmin: Notes de bibliographie critique,” Revue d’ascétique et mystique 4 (1923): 242–56 and 6 (1925): 60–70.

^ Back to text29. Alonso Rodríguez, Ejercicio de la perfección y virtudes cristianas, ed. Rodrigo Molina (Madrid: Testimonio, 2010); Jerónimo Nadal, Annotations and Meditations on the Gospels, ed. Frederick A. Homann and Walter S. Melion, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: St. Joseph’s University Press, 2003–7).

^ Back to text30. Louis Lallemant, The Spiritual Doctrine, trans. and ed. Patricia M. Ranum (Chestnut Hill: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2016); Gaspar Loarte, The Exercise of the Christian Life, trans. and ed. Charles R. Keenan (Chestnut Hill: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2016).

^ Back to text31. Cf. the respective entries in Sommervogel, 10: on Mary, cols. 424–42; on the passion, cols. 415–19; on the saints, cols. 445–51; on prayer, cols. 453–60; and on meditation, cols. 468–74.

^ Back to text32. De Guibert, 374–85; Sommervogel, 10: cols. 554–64 for works on Communion. Cf. Michael W. Maher, S.J., “How the Jesuits Used Their Confraternities to Promote Frequent Communion,” in Confraternities & Catholic Reform in Italy, France, & Spain, ed. John Patrick Donnelly, S.J. and Michael W. Maher, S.J. [Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies 44] (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 1999), 75–95; Lance Gabriel Lazar, Working in the Vineyard of the Lord: Jesuit Confraternities in Early Modern Italy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 132–36.

^ Back to text33. An inventory of Jesuit titles on confession can be found in Robert A. Maryks, “A Census of Books Written by Jesuits on Sacramental Confession (1554–1650),” Annali di storia moderna e contemporanea 10 (2004): 415–519.

^ Back to text34. Giancarolo Angelozzi, “L’insegnamento dei casi di coscienza nella pratica educativa della Compagnia di Gesù,” in La “Ratio studiorum”: Modelli culturali e pratiche educative dei Gesuiti in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento, ed. Gian Paolo Brizzi (Rome: Bulzoni, 1981), 121–62; James F. Keenan, S.J., “The Birth of Jesuit Casuistry: Summa casuum conscientiae sive de instructione sacerdotum, libri septem by Francisco de Toledo (1532–1596),” in The Mercurian Project: Forming Jesuit Culture, 1573–1580, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2004), 461–82; Robert A. Maryks, “Rhetorical Veri-similitudo: Cicero, Probabilism, and Jesuit Casuistry,” in Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies, eds. Cinthia Gannett and John C. Brereton (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016), 60–72.

^ Back to text35. Ulderico Parente, “Aspetti della confessione dei peccati nella Compagnia di Gesù a Napoli tra XVI e XVII secolo,” in Ricerche sulla confessione dei peccati a Napoli tra ’500 e ’600, ed. Boris Ulianich (Naples: Città del Sole, 1997), 131–76; José Calveras, “Los ‘confessionales’ y los Ejercicios de san Ignacio,” AHSI 17 (1948): 51–101;

^ Back to text36. Marie–Hélène Froeschlé-Chopard, “La dévotion au Sacré-Coeur: Confréries et livres de piété,” Revue de l’histoire des religions 217, no. 3 (2000): 531–46, here 534–38.

^ Back to text37. De Guibert, 392–402; Sommervogel, 10: cols. 420–423. See also John L. Seydl, “Contesting the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Late Eighteenth-Century Rome,” in Roman Bodies: Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century, ed. Andrew Hopkins and Maria Wyke (London: British School at Rome, 2005), 215–28; David Morgan, “Rhetoric of the Heart: Figuring the Body in Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” in Things: Religion and the Question of Materiality, eds. Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), 90–111; and Phil Kilroy, The Society of the Sacred Heart in Nineteenth-Century France, 1800–1865 (Cork: Cork University Press, 2012), esp. 133–66.

^ Back to text38. Rady Roldán-Figueroa, “Pedro de Ribadeneyra’s Vida del P. Ignacio de Loyola (1583) and Literary Culture in Early Modern Spain,” in Exploring Jesuit Distinctiveness: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ways of Proceeding within the Society of Jesus, ed. Robert Aleksander Maryks (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 156–74. On Orlandini and Sacchini: O’Malley, “The Historiography of the Society of Jesus,” 7, and 31n16.

^ Back to text39. For example, lives of Xavier and Borja were printed as part of the Chinese mission—see R. Po-chia Hsia, “The Catholic Mission and Translations in China, 1583–1700,” in Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe, 39–51, here 41; Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724 (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 227.

^ Back to text40. Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999); Thomas M. McCoog, S.J., “Construing Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community, 1582–1602,” in Catholics and the ‘Protestant Nation’: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England, ed. Ethan Shagan (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), 95–127; Sarah Covington, The Trail of Martyrdom: Persecution and Resistance in Sixteenth-Century England (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003); and Alison Shell, Oral Culture and Catholicism in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 114–48.

^ Back to text41. Pierre Antoine Fabre, “La décision de partir comme accomplissement des Exercices? Une lecture des indipetae,” in Ite inflammate omnia: Selected Papers from Conferences Held at Loyola and Rome in 2006, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. (Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 2010), 45–70. See also Aliocha Maldavsky, “Pedir las Indias: Las cartas indipetae de los jesuitas europeos, siglos XVI–XVIII; Ensayo historiográfico,” Relaciones 33, no. 132 (2012): 147–81; Paulo Robert de Andrada Pacheco and Marina Massimi, “The Experience of ‘Consolation’ in the Litterae indipetae,” Psicologia em Estudo 15, no. 2 (2010): 343–52.

^ Back to text42. Hendrickson, 2n3; Thomas H. Clancy, S.J., An Introduction to Jesuit Life: The Constitutions and History through 435 Years (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1976), 123.

^ Back to text43. O’Malley, First Jesuits, 264–66. See also Rob Faesen, “Jesuit Spirituality in the Low Countries in Dialogue with the Older Mystical Tradition,” in The Jesuits of the Low Countries: Identity and Impact (1540–1773), eds. Rob Faesen and Leo Kenis (Leuven: Peeters, 2012), 3–16.

^ Back to text44. Eire, 90–91.

^ Back to text45. Manuel Ruiz Jurado, S.J., “San Juan de Ávila y la Compañía de Jesús,” AHSI 49 (1971): 153–72; Rady Roldán–Figueroa, “Ignatius of Loyola and Juan de Ávila on the Ascetic Life of the Laity,” in A Companion to Ignatius of Loyola: Life, Writings, Spirituality, Influence, ed. Robert Aleksander Maryks (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 159–77.

^ Back to text46. Loarte, “Introduction,” 1–4; Robert Aleksander Maryks, The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews: Jesuits of Jewish Ancestry and Purity-of-Blood Laws in the Early Society of Jesus (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 80–85.

^ Back to text47. On printing and the Reformation, see La Réforme et le livre: L’Europe de l’imprimé (1517–v.1570), ed. Jean-François Gilmont (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1990), available in English as The Reformation and the Book, ed. Jean-François Gilmont, trans. Karin Maag (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1998). On Catholic printing, see Books in the Catholic World during the Early Modern Period, ed. Natalia Maillard Álvarez (Leiden: Brill, 2014); Andrew Pettegree “Catholic Pamphleteering,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to the Counter-Reformation, ed. A. Bamji, G. H. Janssen and M. Laven (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), 109–26 (which is especially focused on polemic); and Alexandra Walsham, “Dumb Preachers: Catholicism and the Culture of Print,” now in her Catholic Reformation and Protestant Britain (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 235–83.

^ Back to text48. Olaf Hein and Rolf Mader, “La stamperia del Collegio Romano,” Archivio della Società Romana di Storia Patria 115 (1992): 133–46; cf. Valentino Romani, “Note e documenti sulla prima editoria gesuitica,” Archivio della Società Romana di Storia Patria 117 (1994): 187–214.

^ Back to text49. E.g., Anne Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books 1465–1550: A Finding List (Geneva: Droz, 1983); Lorenzo Baldacchini, Bibliografia delle stampe popolari religiose del XVI–XVII secolo: Biblioteche Vaticana, Alessandrina, Estense (Florence: Olschki, 1980); Andrew Pettegree, Malcolm Walsby, and Alexander S. Wilkinson, French Vernacular Books: Books Published in the French Language before 1601 (Leiden: Brill, 2007).

^ Back to text50. Grendler, “Form and Function”; Sara T. Nalle, “Literacy and Culture in Early Modern Castile,” Past & Present 125 (1989): 65–96; Tessa Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Lise Andriès, La Bibliothèque bleue au dix-huitième siècle: Une tradition éditoriale (Oxford: Voltaire, 1989).

^ Back to text51. Peter Burke, “The Jesuits and the Art of Translation in Early Modern Europe,” in The Jesuits II, 24–32.

^ Back to text52. Eire, “Early Modern Catholic Piety in Translation,” passim.

^ Back to text53. David J. Davis, Seeing Faith, Printing Pictures: Religious Identity during the English Reformation (Leiden: Brill, 2013). See also the essay by Ralph Dekoninck on “Emblems” in this collection.

^ Back to text54. Thomas Buser, “Jerome Nadal and Early Jesuit Art in Rome,” Art Bulletin 57 (1976): 424–33 (at 425). Cf. Alfonso Rodríguez de Ceballos, “Las imágenes de la historia evangélica del P. Jerónimo Nadal en el marco del jesuitismo y la contrarreforma,” Traza y baza 5 (1974): 77–95; Natale Vacalebre, “Produzione e distribuzione libraria gesuitica nel Cinquecento: Il caso delle Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia di Jerónimo Nadal (Anversa, Martin Nuyts, 1593–1595),” Titivillus: Revista internacional sobre libro antiguo 1 (2015): 305–23.

^ Back to text55. Jeffrey Chipps Smith, “The Art of Salvation in Bavaria,” in The Jesuits I, 568–93, here 582. On the role of sacred space furthering Jesuit spirituality and meditation, see also Anna C. Knaap, “Meditation, Ministry, and Visual Rhetoric in Peter Paul Rubens’s Program for the Jesuit Church in Antwerp,” in The Jesuits II, 157–81; Kirstin Noreen, “Ecclesiae militantis triumphi: Jesuit Iconography and the Counter-Reformation,” Sixteenth Century Journal 29, no. 3 (1998): 689–715; and Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Sensuous Worship: Jesuits and the Art of the Early Catholic Reformation in Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).

^ Back to text56. Brendan Connolly, “The Roots of Jesuit Librarianship, 1540–1599” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1955); Connolly, “Jesuit Library Beginnings,” The Library Quarterly 30 (1960): 243–52; Kathleen M. Comerford, “Jesuits and Their Books: Libraries and Printing around the World,” JJS 2, no. 2 (2015): 179–88 [DOI: 10.1163/22141332-00202001]; Comerford, “Jesuit Tuscan Libraries of the 1560s and 1570s: Bibliotheca not-yet selecta,” AHSI 162 (2013): 515–31; Natale Vacalebre, “La biblioteca del collegio dei gesuiti di Perugia (1557–1773),” (PhD diss., Università degli Studi di Udine, 2015); Vacalebre, “‘Como un hospital bien ordenado’: Alle origini del modello bibliotecario della Compagnia di Gesù,” Histoire et civilisation du livre 10 (2014): 51–68; Valentino Romani, “‘Dispersione’ vs ‘Disseminazione’: Note e materiali per una storia delle biblioteche gesuitiche,” in Le biblioteche come paradigma bibliografico: Atti del convegno internazionale: Roma, Tempio di Adriano, 10–12 ottobre 2007, ed. Fiammetta Sabba (Rome: Bulzoni, 2008), 155–80. See also Bernabé Bartolomé Martínez, “Las librerías e imprentas de los jesuitas (1540–1767): una aportación notable a la cultura española,” Hispania sacra 40 (1988): 315–88. Comerford guest-edited an issue of the JJS (vol. 2, no. 2 [2015]) devoted to Jesuit libraries and book ownership that is also relevant.

^ Back to text57. Clancy, 121–25; De Guibert, 216–17.

^ Back to text58. Gigliola Fragnito, La Bibbia al rogo: La censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura, 1471–1605 (Bologna: il Mulino, 1997); Censura ecclesiastica e cultura politica in Italia tra Cinquecento e Seicento, ed. Cristina Stagno (Florence: Olschki, 2001); Church, Censorship and Culture in Early Modern Italy, ed. Gigliola Fragnito (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Vittorio Frajese, Nascita dell’Indice: La censura ecclesiastica dal Rinascimento alla Controriforma (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2006). On devotional literature specifically see Giorgio Caravale, L’orazione proibita: Censura ecclesiastica e letteratura devozionale nella prima età moderna (Florence: Olschki, 2003), available in English as Forbidden Prayer: Church Censorship and Devotional Literature in Renaissance Italy (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011).

^ Back to text59. Sabina Pavone, “A Saint under Trial: Ignatius of Loyola between Alcalá and Rome,” in A Companion to Ignatius of Loyola, 45–65; Stefania Pastore, “I primi gesuiti e la Spagna: Strategie, compromessi, ambiguità,” Rivista storica italiana 117 (2005): 158–78; Pastore, “Tra conversos, gesuiti e inquisizione: Diego de Guzmán e i processi di Ubeda (1549–1552),” in Inquisizioni: Percorsi di ricerca, ed. Giovanna Paolin (Trieste: Università di Trieste, 2001), 215–51. On the Obras see José Luis González Novalín, “La Inquisición y los jesuitas (s. XVI),” Anthologia annua 37 (1990): 11–56, here 45–53; and Vacalebre, “La biblioteca del collegio,” 104–19.

^ Back to text60. Philip Endean, S.J., “‘The Strange Style of Prayer’: Mercurian, Cordeses, and Álvarez,” in The Mercurian Project:, 351–97, here 373; and Clancy, 122.

^ Back to text61. Mario Scaduto, S.J., “Laínez e l’Indice del 1559: Lullo, Sabande, Savonarola, Erasmo,” AHSI 24 (1955): 3–32; Peter Godman, The Saint as Censor: Robert Bellarmine between Inquisition and Index (Leiden: Brill, 2000).

^ Back to text62. Ronnie Po-chia Hsia, “Jesuit Foreign Missions: A Historiographical Essay,” JJS 1, no. 1 (2014): 47–65, here 65 [DOI: 10.1163/22141332-00101004].

^ Back to text63. Ernest Mason Satow, The Jesuit Mission Press in Japan, 1591–1610 ([London]: Privately Printed, 1888); Johannes Laures, S.J., Kirishitan bunko: A Manual of Books and Documents on the Early Christian Missions in Japan; With Special Reference to the Principal Libraries in Japan and More Particularly to the Collection at Sophia University, Tokyo (Tokyo: Sophia University, 1940).

^ Back to text64. Erik Zürcher, Bibliography of the Jesuit Mission in China: ca. 1580–ca. 1680 (Leiden: Centre of Non-Western Studies, Leiden University, 1991); Ad Dudink and Nicolas Standaert, Chinese Christian Texts Database (CCT–Database) <>.

^ Back to text65. E.g., Noël Golvers, Portuguese Books and Their Readers in the Jesuit Mission of China (17th–18th centuries) (Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau, 2011).

^ Back to text66. O’Malley, First Jesuits, 115; Mia M. Mochizuki, “The Diaspora of a Jesuit Press: Mimetic Imitation on the World Stage,” in Illustrated Religious Texts in the North of Europe, 1500–1800, eds. Feike Dietz et al. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 113–34.

^ Back to text67. Ines G. Županov, “Twisting a Pagan Tongue: Portuguese and Tamil in Sixteenth-Century Jesuit Translations,” in Conversion: Old Worlds and New, ed. Kenneth Mills and Anthony Grafton (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2003), 87–108; Brockey, 243–86.

^ Back to text68. Hsia, “The Catholic Mission and Translations in China,” 46; Mochizuki, 121–2; and Sabine MacCormack, “Grammar and Virtue: The Formulation of a Cultural and Missionary Program in Early Colonial Peru,” in The Jesuits II, 576–601.

^ Back to text69. Hsia, “The Catholic Missions,” 40. Cf. The Handbook of Christianity in China: vol. I, 635–1800, ed. Nicolas Standaert (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 600–31.

^ Back to text70. J. Michelle Molina, To Overcome Oneself: The Jesuit Ethic and the Spirit of Global Expansion, 1520–1767 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), 184–92. See also Lauren G. Kilroy–Ewbank, “Holy Organ or Unholy Idol?: Forming a History of the Sacred Heart in New Spain,” Colonial Latin American Review 23, no. 3 (2014): 320–59; Joachim Kurtz, “Messenger of the Sacred Heart: Li Wenyu (1840–1911) and the Jesuit Periodical Press in Late Qing Shanghi,” in From Woodblocks to the Internet: Chinese Publishing and Culture in Transition, c.1800–2008, ed. Cynthia Brokaw and Christopher A. Reed (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 79–109.

^ Back to text71. Eugenio Menegon, “Deliver Us from Evil: Confession and Salvation in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Chinese Catholicism,” in Forgive Us Our Sins: Confession in Late Ming and Early Qing China, ed. Nicolas Standaert and Ad Dudink (Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2008), 9–101.

^ Back to text72. See Mochizuki, 124–25; Orii, 198; Hsia, “The Catholic Mission,” 41.

^ Back to text73. Li Sher–shiueh 李奭學, “Chou xin zhi yao, ling bing zhi shen ji: Yang Manuo yi ‘Qing shi jin shu’ chu tan” 瘳心之藥,靈病之神劑: 陽瑪諾譯《輕世金書》初探 [A medicine to heal the heart, a spiritual remedy for the ills of the soul: A preliminary discussion of Manuel Diaz Jr.’s translation of the Imitatio Christi], Bian yi lun cong 編譯論叢[Compilation and translation review] 4, no. 1 (2011): 1–38. Cf. William J. Farge, The Japanese Translations of the Jesuit Mission Press, 1590–1614: “De imitatione Christi” and “Guía de pecadores” (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2003).

^ Back to text74. A. C. Southern, Elizabethan Recusant Prose 1559–1582 (London: Sands & Co., 1950), esp. 181–262 for devotional works.

^ Back to text75. Anthony F. Allison and David M. Rogers, The Contemporary Printed Literature of the English Counter-Reformation between 1558 and 1640 (Brookfield, VT: Scolar Press, 1989); Thomas H. Clancy, A Literary History of the English Jesuits: A Century of Books (1615–1714) (San Francisco: Catholic Scholars Press, 1996).

^ Back to text76. Robert Persons, S.J., The Christian Directory (1582): The First Booke of the Christian Exercise, Appertayning to Resolution, ed. Victor Houliston (Leiden: Brill, 1998).

^ Back to text77. Robert McNulty, “‘The Protestant Version’ of Robert Parsons’ The First Booke of the Christian Exercise,” Huntington Library Quarterly 22 (1959): 271–300; Brad S. Gregory, “The ‘True and Zealouse Seruice of God’: Robert Parsons, Edmund Bunny, and The First Booke of the Christian Exercise,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 45 (1994): 238–68; Victor Houliston, “Why Robert Persons Would Not Be Pacified: Edmund Bunny’s Theft of The Book of Resolution,” in The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. (Rochester, NY: Boydell, 1996), 159–77.

^ Back to text78. Frans J. M. Blom, “A German Jesuit and his Anglican Readers: The Case of Jeremias Drexelius (1581–1638),” in Studies in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, History and Bibliography, ed. G.A.M. Janssens and F.G.A.M. Aarts (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984), 41–51, here 46.

^ Back to text79. Jonathan Wright, “From Immolation to Restoration: The Jesuits, 1773–1814,” Theological Studies 75, no. 4 (2014): 729–45; Robert Danieluk, S.J., “Some Remarks on Jesuit Historiography 1773–1814,” in Jesuit Survival and Restoration: A Global History, 1773–1900, ed. Robert A. Maryks and Jonathan Wright (Boston: Brill, 2014), 34–48. See also the essay by Paul Shore in this collection.

^ Back to text80. De Guibert, 444–61 for the suppression and 462–524 for the restored Society.

^ Back to text81. Marek Inglot, S.J., La Compagnia di Gesù nell’Impero Russo (1772–1820) e la sua parte nella restaurazione generale della Compagnia (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1997); Uwe Glüsenkamp, Das Schicksal der Jesuiten aus der oberdeutschen und den beiden rheinischen Ordensprovinzen nach ihrer Vertreibung aus den Missionsgebeiten des portugiesischen und spanischen Patronats (1755–1809) (Münster: Aschendorff, 2008); La presenza in Italia dei gesuiti iberici espulsi: aspetti religiosi, politici, culturali, eds. Ugo Baldini and Gian Paolo Brizzi (Bologna: CLUEB, 2010).

^ Back to text82. Maurice Whitehead, English Jesuit Education: Expulsion, Suppression, Survival, Restoration, 1762–1803 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013), 144; American Jesuit Spirituality: The Maryland Tradition, 1634–1900, ed. Robert Emmett Curran, S.J. (New York: Paulist, 1988), 18–20.

^ Back to text83. Christopher Storrs, “Suppression of the Jesuits in the Savoyard State,” in The Jesuit Suppression in Global Context, eds. Jeffrey D. Burson and Jonathan Wright (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 139–160, here 159; Emanuele Colombo, “Luigi Mozzi de’ Capitani (1746–1813) between Suppression and Restoration,” in Jesuit Survival and Restoration, 212–28, here 220.

^ Back to text84. On Bouhours, see Thomas Worcester, S.J., “A Restored Society or a New Society of Jesus?,” in Jesuit Survival and Restoration, 13–33, here 28–29. Among the nineteenth-century editions of Loarte see Istruzione e pratica di meditare i misteri del Rosario della SS. Vergine (Rome: Marini, 1843); Apparecchio per ben confessarsi, comunicarsi ed ascoltare la Santa Messa: Cavato da’ padri Gaja e Loarte ed altri santi scrittori (Brescia: Gilberti, 1844); and Esercizio della vita cristiana (Rome: Marini e Morini, 1850).

^ Back to text85. Joseph A. Tetlow, S.J., “The Most Postmodern Prayer: American Jesuit Identity and the Examen of Conscience, 1920–1990,” Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits 26, no. 1 (1994): 1–67, here 12. I would like to thank Fr. Claude Pavur, S.J., for bringing these examples to my attention.

^ Back to text86. American Jesuit Spirituality , 272.

^ Back to text87. Gerald McKevitt, Brokers of Culture: Italian Jesuits in the American West, 1848–1919 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 191.

^ Back to text88. John T. McGreevy, American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 108.

^ Back to text89. John W. O’Malley, “Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism: Content and Method,” Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits 38, no. 4 (2006): 1–33. See also his “The Distinctiveness of the Society of Jesus,” JJS 3, no. 1 (2016): 1–16 [DOI: 10.1163/22141332-00301001]; and “Some Distinctive Characteristics of Jesuit Spirituality in the Sixteenth Century,” in his Saints or Devils Incarnate?: Studies in Jesuit History (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 165–80.

^ Back to text90. See among others David L. Fleming, S.J., Draw Me into Your Friendship: A Literal Translation and Reading of the Spiritual Exercises (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996); and Ignatian Exercises: Contemporary Annotations, ed. David L. Fleming, S.J. (St. Louis, MO: Review for Religious, 1996).

^ Back to text91. A helpful overview can be found in Carlos Coupeau, S.J., “Las publicaciones de espiritualidad ignaciana,” Revista de espiritualidad ignaciana 40, no. 3 (2009): 60–84.

^ Back to text92. James Martin, S.J., My Life with the Saints (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2006); Martin, Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus (New York: HarperOne, 2016).

^ Back to text93.–silf (accessed April 30, 2017).

Cite this page
Keenan, Charles R., “Jesuit Devotional Literature”, in: Jesuit Historiography Online. Consulted online on 22 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2017

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