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.


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

Malacca’s strategic position along the narrow straits meant sultans and princes, kings and Company captains all wanted to control it.

The Jesuit who returned to Europe to promote the work in China was the ‘procurator.’ Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628) was highly successful as this.

Descartes described Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (1602-1680) as “more quicksalver than savant”, others “the premodern root of postmodern thinking.” Kircher also collated writings about China.