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.


Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606) was an Italian Jesuit priest and the architect of the missions in the east. He was Ricci’s novice master.

Catholic missionaries at the Chinese imperial court both annotated the music they heard there and introduced Western style music as well.

The French cartographer Jean-Baptiste D’Anville (1697-1792) never left Paris but created beautiful maps of the world, often drawing on the works of Jesuits.

Portuguese vessels needed a place to refuel after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. Mozambique provided this safe haven.