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.


As the capital of China since the Ming dynasty, this was an important destination for Ricci and his fellow Jesuits.

The life of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) has continued to attract academic interest. He was greatly helped by his Chinese friends.

Both the Portuguese and Dutch traders utilized the port of Nagasaki as their entry point into the Japanese market.

Jesuit missionaries began translating the Confucian canon in 1583. The first work that transmitted this knowledge to Europe was published in Paris in 1687.