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.


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

Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709) was a Jesuit brother who was also an artist and an architect. His work on perspective was translated into Chinese.

Jesuits studied philosophy and theology, and utilized the ancient classics. The textbook of Aristotelian teachings, used especially at Coimbra, was later translated into Chinese.

Ricci and his fellow Jesuits relied on their learning, including mathematical principles, especially as they had been taught these by Jesuits like Clavius.