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.


Ships travelling up the Thames brought knowledge to England’s capital and the London printers quickly circulated it near and far.

Around 1738, Emmanuel Bowen (cartographer for George II and Louis XV, 1714-1767) translated this work into English from the original French.

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

Often known as Ricci’s Journals, this work discusses Christian expansion into China, as narrated by the famous Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).