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.


Philippe Couplet (1622-1693) was a Flemish Jesuit who returned to Europe as procurator. During this journey he published books and met wealthy patrons.

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

In keeping with the historic and continuing practice of the Jesuits, an artist was commissioned to help participate in the book exhibition that initiated this project. Ralf Gawlick, composer, responded to the epic story of Ricci.

The French cartographer Jean-Baptiste D’Anville (1697-1792) never left Paris but created beautiful maps of the world, often drawing on the works of Jesuits.