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.


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

Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688) was a Flemish Jesuit who became President of the Chinese Imperial Tribunal of Mathematics in Beijing in 1669.

The Jesuits knew that their scientific skills helped their religious goals. Johann Adam Schall von Bell, SJ (1592-1666) became famous throughout China.

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