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.


Catholic missionaries at the Chinese imperial court both annotated the music they heard there and introduced Western style music as well.

Jesuits have always been interested in the stars and even today Jesuits run the Vatican Observatory. It was critical work in China.

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

We forget that even commonplace plants had to originate somewhere. Here missionaries describe the properties of a new plant - "rhubarb".