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 wrote to each other constantly, both out of affection and obligation. They discussed works performed and situations observed.

The famous Jesuit mathematician Christopher Clavius (1538-1612) taught generations of Jesuit missionaries, including Matteo Ricci. They often carried his books with them.

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

Louis XIV chose six French Jesuits, including Joachim Bouvet (1656-1730), as his mathematicians. They went to Asia as missionaries as well.