Explore East-West cross-cultural exchange
as found in rare books written about China
by Jesuit missionaries

About the Books

The Jesuitana Collection contains more than 2,500 volumes published by or about the Jesuits prior to the order’s suppression in 1773. It documents the significant contributions of Jesuits to a wide range of disciplines in the early modern period, including in the fields of mathematics, science, history, travel, philosophy and Biblical exegesis. Here are 13 important books from the collection. All of them deal with east-west cultural exchange.

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Although based at the Roman College, Kircher used missionary writings to compile this work about China’s geography, flora and fauna.


The original work was written in Portuguese by the Jesuit Alvaro Semedo, and published in 1641. This French translation was published in 1667.

The Chinese Rites Controversy was about missionary methods. Louis Le Comte (1655-1728) wrote this letter to gain support for the Jesuits.

Shanghai’s coastal position made it an attractive port, especially from the nineteenth century onwards. The church was founded here in 1608.

Jesuits sought a route safer than the maritime way, and this took them across the top of the world.