The Historiography of Jesuits in the Italian Peninsula and Islands before the Suppression
(9,719 words)

Kathleen M. Comerford

Last modified: December 2016


In 1993, historian Miguel Batllori posited that the history of the Jesuits in the Italian peninsula required a different approach from that in other political entities, given the location of the Society’s administration in Rome, and the dominance of Spaniards in the leadership there.1 In the following year, Jesuit and historian John W. O’Malley argued that the historiographical tradition until that point had been either apologetic or antagonistic.2 Both were reviewing Jesuit historian Mario Scaduto’s L’opera di Francesco Borgia, the fifth volume in a series about the early decades of the Society of Jesus in Italy. That work, along with O’Malley’s First Jesuits, helped reimagine the study of the Society, merging institutional and biographical history, paying attention to personal details, and relying on a broad source base. Nonetheless, issues identified by Batllori and O’Malley remain significant in studying the first centuries of the Italian Society: how do historians understand a Spanish-dominated, Roman-located, globally-focused organization as it developed in a disorganized political and religious context? How do both Jesuits and non-Jesuits write about the pre-suppression era without either celebrating or condemning? What were the most significant struggles and successes of the pre-suppression Society, and what role did Rome or other Italian locations play in these? I will address these issues by discussing sources and authors of Jesuit history throughout the Italian peninsula and islands, both regionally and comparatively; by noting the attention paid by historians to particular subjects; and by pointing to some areas of scholarship which are lacking.


Early Histories and Biographies

The first formal histories of the Jesuits in Italy are regional, reflecting the political divisions of their time, and provide little geographical context. Certain topics have dominated: lives of founders and generals, establishment of colleges, relationships with popes and secular princes, conflicts with other religious orders, and the fine arts. The tradition of biography continues today. The most frequently studied Jesuit is Ignatius of Loyola (c.1491–1556), although other generals are also the subjects of full-length biographies.3 More wide-ranging studies also spend considerable time on the leadership; these often note the brief and unsettling generalates of the mid-seventeenth century. Pioneering nineteenth-century Lutheran historians Leopold von Ranke and Heinrich Böhmer, for example, referred to the period 1615–64 in terms of decay, and twentieth-century scholar Claudio Ferlan called the time between the centenary in 1640 and the suppression an age of calamity. In particular, these scholars refer to weak leadership, citing as examples Generals Muzio Vitelleschi (1563–1645), Giovanni Paolo Oliva (1600–81), and Charles de Noyelle (1615–86). Early twentieth-century Catholic historian Thomas Campbell’s apologetic study disputed such claims, with more emotion than evidence. William Bangert, also a twentieth-century Catholic historian, took a more balanced approach, defending each general with reference to administrative and personal documents.4

Juan Alfonso de Polanco (1517–76) began the tradition of more comprehensive histories in c.1573 with a combined biography of Ignatius and study of the first decades of the Society. This work, also called the Chronicon, was continued by Jesuits Niccolò Orlandini (1554–1606), Francesco Sacchini (1570–1625), Joseph de Jouvancy (1643–1719), and Giulio Cesare Cordara (1704–85), who completed it through 1632.5 The most frequent interpretive approach of the initial studies of the Society focused on its heroic ability to face down persecution and misunderstanding. A transition from celebratory to analytic began in the late sixteenth century, with the Jesuit scholar Orazio Torsellini (1545–99).6 His seventeenth-century heirs and their successors placed increasing emphasis on accuracy. This can be attributed in part to the growing influence of scientific activity within the Society, and to the work of the Jesuit polymath Daniello Bartoli (1608–85). Adriano Prosperi has described Bartoli’s six-volume Istoria della Compagnia di Gesù (1641) as “the culmination of a century of collective efforts” in amassing data and distributing it to a public eager for exotic information. Rather than appeal to the adventurer, as authors of travel literature in the sixteenth century had, Bartoli stressed “the construction of a didactic relationship, [...] [and the] affirmation of the superiority of the missionaries’ knowledge.” Shortly after that, Jesuit missionary Paolo Segneri (1624–94) also emphasized the educational work of the Society, not merely for non-Christians in foreign missions, but also for European Christians.7


Regionalism and the Importance of Rome

Jesuit-written Jesuit histories concentrated on geographical regions, and local studies have remained important through the modern era. The fragmented focus is partly the result of historical political divisions in Italy, but continued past the mid-nineteenth century unification, when “bitter opposition between the Catholic Church and Italian liberals produced divisions lasting decades, increasing mistrust of the Jesuits,” who were stereotyped as duplicitous and opposed to change. After the mid-twentieth century, “largely due to such major figures in the Company as the research historians Michel de Certeau or François de Dainville” and their students at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris, scholars approached the study of the Society from a less apologetic standpoint.8 Historian Silvia Mostaccio noted that since the turn of the twenty-first century, “the Society and its members became the privileged vantage point for understanding a modernizing, European world in formation” in terms of global as well as European history, of fine arts as well as intellectual and social history.9 Modern research follows similar patterns, and regional studies still pay close attention to provinces or cities, with relatively little comparative analysis.

Among those focused studies, Roman subjects dominate. Researching the membership and activities in that city means investigating non-Italians living and working in what became the capital of a unified Italy.10 Many of those studied at the Roman colleges for foreigners. Histories of those institutions have often been hostile. For example, the English College in Rome (founded in 1579) has been criticized as a nursery of traitors or as a cesspool of corruption (cf. the playwright Anthony Munday [1560?–1633]). Apologists, on the other hand, lauded it as the only defense of true Christianity for the British Isles. For that viewpoint, see, e.g., the work of secular priest and cardinal William Allen (1532–94), and the Benedictine scholar Francis Aidan Gasquet (1846–1929).11 Twentieth- and twenty-first century scholars, including the Jesuit Thomas McCoog and historian Jason Nice, have written far more objectively about the colleges serving the British Isles, and their graduates.12

Rome was also the home of the Collegio Romano, the history of which has been kept since its inception.13 Most of the scholarship on that institution (now the Gregorian University) is sympathetic, including the 1954 work by Spanish historian Ricardo García Villoslada. This was only the second, and remains the most complete, full-length study of the college. In 1981, Jesuit historian Philip Caraman attempted to update Villoslada. The two appeal to dramatically different audiences: Villoslada’s to the scholarly community, with liberal use of documents and an appendix listing all of the professors from the Collegio Romano; and Caraman’s to a wider public, with an open and conversational style, and an appendix of saints, blesseds, and popes from among the alumni. Literary scholar Aldo Scaglione, in 1986, described Villoslada as “little more than tentative,” but ignored Caraman.14 Studies of individual professors at the Collegio Romano abound.15

Outside of Rome, histories of colleges and churches in other Italian territories tend to focus on major urban centers (Bologna, Messina, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, and Venice), although Simon Ditchfield has spoken against the continuance of this trend.16 One of the earliest non-Roman regional histories is the Cronica by Giovan Francesco Araldo (c.1528–99) regarding the Neapolitan Jesuits, now available through the work of architecture scholar Francesco Divenuto.17 Since Araldo’s time, local studies have concentrated on two interrelated topics: the colleges themselves, and the students who were educated there. For example, historian Raimondo Turtas’s study of Sardinia describes the creation of colleges, the casa di probazione and casa professa, domestic and foreign missions undertaken from the houses and colleges, and the Marian congregations.18 While most of the college-focused studies concern architecture or teaching, Jesuit and historian John Patrick Donnelly’s research into the town/gown conflicts in the 1590s in Padua, Leuven, and Paris remind us that these institutions were attended and staffed by real people, including students who played pranks on each other and protested against professors, and educators and administrators who faced questions about their competence and professionalism.19 Most students are difficult to trace, though scholars have written biographies, collective and individual, of some who joined the Society. Among the most frequently studied in the Italian context are Luigi Gonzaga (1568–91) and Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621).20 Still, life in Jesuit houses and colleges remains relatively unexplored. Among the exceptions are an article by theologian Peter Togni, discussing the development of a dedicated house for novices, along with activities undertaken by those brothers and priests in formation.21

Non-Jesuits educated in the schools can be investigated by studying the sodalities, also called confraternities, which engaged in public and private worship. The Marian congregations have received the lion’s share of the attention, focusing largely on Rome.22 Studies of lay piety provide insights into the impact of the Society on popular culture, devotion, civic participation, and other aspects of everyday life so treasured by the twentieth-century Annalistes and the generations they have influenced. For example, Lance Lazar’s study of Jesuit confraternities highlights the role of propaganda within charity, which reflects recent preoccupations with both the welfare state and the manipulation of society by leadership.23 By contrast, early modern historians focused on the extraordinary: saints, sinners, grand places, and monumental art instead of the “average” (and in particular instead of the poor) person.24


Conflicts and Crises

That shift in focus allows for a more evenhanded approach to the struggles faced by early modern Jesuits up to the French Revolution. The Society faced allegations of alliances with political power to further their own agenda; new developments in science; accusations of manipulation of the reigning pope, or by him; conflicts over the power of the papacy; Jansenism; the decline in importance of the pro-Jesuit Austrian monarchy; and the spreading expulsion and eventual suppression (1759–1773). An early example of such conflict was the Venetian Interdict of 1606. The most important full-length study of the Jesuit role in this crisis is by Pirri. The Society was one of the main targets of the Venetian Republic in reaction to papal action.25 Closely bound with the story of the interdict is that of fra Paolo Sarpi (1552–1623), defender of Venetian liberties in the face of Roman and Jesuit interference, and opponent of the Jesuit interpretation in the Molinist controversy. Briefly put, the Jesuit Luis de Molina (1535–1600) held that though humans had free will, the omniscient God knew what choices they would make—a scientia media, or special knowledge, which helps determine what form of grace God will offer. Sarpi argued that the Jesuits, whom he considered enemies of the republic, should be forced to leave; and he delighted in their departure under a cloud of shame. The Society eventually returned to Venice, after a half century of negotiation and concessions by the republic to both the papacy and the Jesuits.26 Another controversy surrounded the Monita secreta Societatis Iesu (Secret Instructions of the Society of Jesus), anonymously printed in Poland around 1612 and denounced as a hoax by Bishop Andrzej Lipski (1572–1631) of Kraków as early as 1616 and by anti-Jesuits including Sarpi. The text claimed to be a manual for attracting not only more members of the Society, but more power by alliances with rulers.27

In the meanwhile, the development of Jansenism, which opposed Molinism and denied the role of free will in responding to God’s grace, proved difficult for Jesuits. Beginning in the 1640s, Jansenists accused the Society of lax moral theology, of appealing to the conscience of the individual for a probable justification of behavior, rather than to a rigorous approach in which, the law would prevail. In reality, this accusation was exaggerated.28 Still, by their practices, the Society was at odds with other religious orders, most clearly the Dominicans. The Jansenist problem spilled over into the Enlightenment, a period for which the historiography in Italian territories is thin.29 The conventional wisdom has been that intellectual trends of the eighteenth century were anti-religious and that as a result members of religious orders stagnated, rather than contributing to developments in intellectual disciplines. By the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, this interpretation has been challenged. For example, historian Dorinda Outram argued that few public intellectuals of the time were truly anti-religious; the rest wanted a more rational approach to religion.30 As historian Flavio Rurale observed in 2007, the increased participation of lay scholars in writing the history of the Jesuits has produced a turn not only away from apologetics, but also from reading modern notions of church/state relationships backward to apply to the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries.31

More recent work on the “Catholic Enlightenment,” by scholars such as Ulrich Lehner, promises well for rewriting the history of the Jesuits, and anti-Jesuitism, in this period.32 One case to consider is that of Enlightenment philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), who, after studying at a Jesuit grammar school, rejected the educational program of the Society. In a series of addresses delivered to the faculty and students of the University of Naples between 1699 and 1708, Vico proposed instead “subordinating theology, however orthodox, to the ends of civil science.” This contradicted both the Jesuit educational philosophy (with its “rigid program and techniques” that “encouraged a strict emulation of authority”) and the Jansenist model (that applied the “Cartesian method to the disciplines of the humanities”) that predominated in the Kingdom of Naples and other parts of Europe.33

Other Italian intellectuals of the eighteenth century, including Paolo Mattia Doria (1662–1746), Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina (1664–1718), and Giovanni Gaetano Bottari (1689–1775), joined in the censure. Doria considered Jesuit education to be damaging and self-aggrandizing, designed to increase the wealth and power of the Society.34 Gravina, under the pseudonym Priscus Censorinus Photisticus, also wrote against the probabilism and laxity of the Jesuits, and of their pretended moral authority, and proposed a secular alternative to interpretations of rhetoric, poetry, and literature to challenge that.35 Bottari, the Vatican librarian, was strongly anti-Jesuit, and faulted the Society for the moral failings of Roman (and in general, Christian) society.36 Such critical opinions of the Society have continued through the post-suppression period too, for example in the work of Italian politician and intellectual Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), who wrote of “Jesuitized Christianity, which has become a pure narcotic for the popular masses” and of the “paralysis of Jesuit education.”37

Eventually, the anti-Jesuit movement culminated in the decision to suppress the Society. The suppression in the Italian territories, while largely beyond the scope of this study, is still of interest because it took place at different times throughout the peninsula and islands. Thousands of Jesuits exiled from Spanish and Portuguese territories emigrated to independent or Austrian Italian territories, especially Emilia-Romagna, the Marche, and Lazio, between 1767 and 1773. The impact of this has only recently received attention. In 2010, the diary of Spanish ex-Jesuit Manuel Luengo (1735–1816), who transferred to Bologna, was published for the first time. It provides insights into the complex issues surrounding the period between the Spanish and total suppressions. Luengo and other Jesuit migrants maintained a strong connection both to their homelands and to the hope that the Society would be resurrected.38 Studying them raises issues of national identity, economic hardship, and adaptation to eighteenth-century cultural and intellectual norms (i.e. participation in salons).


Fine Arts

In addition to biographical, organizational, and political studies, the fine arts produced and patronized by the Society have attracted consistent scholarly attention throughout its history. Jesuit art and architecture between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries can be categorized as both mannerist and baroque, and the Society was instrumental in the development of both genres.39 Earlier historiography spoke deprecatingly of a “Jesuit style,” which ended the Renaissance and began a narrow-minded, “beleaguered and sanctimonious” age in the wake of the Council of Trent (1545–63).40 One of the most prolific scholars of Italian Jesuit baroque architecture was Pietro Pirri. His studies, and those of architecture historians including Richard Bösel, Luciano Patetta, Stefano Della Torre, and Giuseppe Rocchi Coopmans de Yoldi, tend to privilege the churches, paying less attention to the colleges and less still to other structures, with the exception of the Collegio Romano.41

Research in the late twentieth century has convincingly demonstrated that “Jesuit style” is a misnomer, yet the patronage of the Society did influence artistic developments.42 As art historian Gauvin Alexander Bailey has noted, “the Jesuits [...] changed the way people used devotional art, by emphasizing its affective and didactic potential in a more systematic, sequential, and experiential way than had been attempted before.”43 Scholars of Jesuit architects, painters, and patrons of art credit the Society with rebuilding (and glorifying) Rome, making their churches, in particular the Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all’Argentina, called Il Gesù (dedicated in 1584), not simply an architectural model for the global missions, but an artistic one too.44 Jesuit art and architecture celebrated mysticism, their theological interpretations, intellectual discipline, and the global reach of Christianity.45 The prestige and wealth of the Society meant that they could afford the best artists in Europe, including Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), so their influence was almost guaranteed. The more positive interpretations of the architecture associated with the Society have developed as a result of a paradigm shift in the second half of the twentieth century. Art historian Evonne Levy has argued that the rejection of baroque Jesuit buildings by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scholars stemmed in part from of the supra-nationalist character of the institutional Catholic Church and Society of Jesus (a position rejected by late nineteenth/early twentieth-century nationalism) and in part from anti-Jesuit feeling expressed in Germany, Spain, and France. The decline in the influence of both the Jesuits and Catholicism on a global scale between World War I and the end of the twentieth century produced what Levy has called a “neutralization” which interpreted art as useful for art’s sake alone, not for propaganda purposes. However, Jesuit architecture was, she argues, clearly propagandistic, as the Nazi regime recognized, and attempted to imitate. This cast a distasteful shadow, which persists more strongly in Italian architectural historical studies than elsewhere in Europe.46

In addition to the visual arts, Jesuits pioneered performing arts. As the education historian Maria Francesca D’Amante has pointed out, theater in Jesuit colleges served rhetorical, humanist, and dramatic purposes. The Society sought to educate (among others) preachers and diplomats. Both could benefit from practice in acting, pronunciation, expressing dialogue, and capturing and keeping the attention of their audiences.47 Theater scholar William McCabe placed the earliest staged Jesuit plays in Messina in 1551 and points to “vigorous growth” up through performance restrictions announced by Mercurian in 1576. For the next two and a half decades, drafts of the Ratio studiorum alternately embraced theatrical performances and cautioned restraint.48 Many dramas were written for the colleges, but few early Jesuit plays were printed; as a result, it is difficult to reconstruct the history of the first centuries of Italian Jesuit drama. Although there is as of yet no compilation of Italian Jesuit plays (unlike, for example, French or German ones), multiple studies of individual Italian Jesuit dramatists, largely from sixteenth- or seventeenth-century Milan or Sardinia, contribute to the field.49 Most studies of performance, however, concentrate on Roman Jesuits. For example, three out of nineteen articles in a 1996 collection by theater scholars Maria Chiabò and Federico Doglio concern the Collegio Romano; among the remaining sixteen, no other college is treated more than once. As a corrective, theater historian Lucia Strappini suggests the kind of research conducted by scholars of other Jesuit subjects: scouring the correspondence and diaries as well as printed and official manuscript material, in this case plays written for and performed at diverse colleges.50 Jesuit literary scholars Louis Oldani and Victor Yanitelli have done this, finding references, sometimes controversial, to dramatic and comedic productions in the correspondence.51 One remarkable seventeenth-century source has been published in a modern, bilingual edition: the Jesuit lawyer, librettist and dramatist Andrea Perrucci’s Dell’arte rappresentativa premeditata ed all’improviso (1699). Perrucci (b.1651) peppered his treatise with stage directions, advice on how to convey the linguistic differences associated with class and social status, theoretical observations based on Aristotelian philosophy, and the niceties of performing characters in different genres.52

Rounding out the fine arts, the most prolific modern scholar of early Jesuit musicology was Jesuit and music historian T. Frank Kennedy. His research highlighted the use of music to teach and to worship. Although they prohibited time in choir, in order to provide more time for preaching and teaching, the Society included music among the subjects to be taught in its schools.53 The maestri di cappella of the Roman Jesuit colleges included internationally famous musicians (the office was not restricted to Jesuits), including Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–94) and Agostino Agazzari (1578–1640).54 A search of Grove Music Online lists few musicians who were Jesuits. The more famous among them were associated with Naples and Milan: Giuseppe Quattromani, rector of the Collegio dei Nobili of Naples in 1706; Clemente Coppola, who served as rector of the Collegio di San Francesco Saverio in Naples in 1712; and the group associated with the Marian confraternities and congregations in Milan in the mid-1750s.55 A 2015 article by ethno-musicologists Ignazio Macchiarella and Roberto Milleddu on the oral inheritance of Jesuit music in Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica in the Journal of Jesuit Studies highlights the didactic functions of music (sung catechism, for example), and community- and identity-building.56


Domestic Missions and Anti-Heretical Activities

Both theater and music were at the heart of the so-called domestic missions the Jesuits undertook in southern Europe. Church historian Luigi Mezzadri argues that missions were among the most influential pastoral activities undertaken after the Council of Trent, and he and historian Adriano Prosperi note that the Jesuits were well suited to such activities, because of their emphases on preaching and teaching.57 Multiple studies on “nostre Indie” (our Indies) or “otras Indias” (other Indies) since the later twentieth century have drawn attention to the teaching and performing activities of Jesuits in poor rural areas.58 Most European missions were concerned with either undereducated Catholics or some form of Christian heresy, but Jesuits also confronted non-Christians, and converts, in Europe. The issue of converts becoming Jesuits was particularly controversial in Spanish territories, so it affected large portions of Italy. The 1593 decree prohibiting those of any Jewish and Muslim descent from entrance—harsher than earlier limpieza de sangre laws, and harsher than even Archbishop of Toledo and Inquisitor General Gaspar de Quiroga (1507–94) could support—led Mercurian to act against those of converso descent who were already members of the Society, some of them highly placed, effecting changes in the Roman administration of the Society.59 Among the other issues which faced Jesuits in their encounters with non-Christians in Spanish Italy were relations with Muslims; this often-overlooked topic has significance not only for Italian and Spanish history, but for the study of Africans in Europe, race relations in the pre-modern world, and religious conflicts.60

Other “domestic” activities of the Society in the Italian territories include participation in the Council of Trent; association with the Inquisition; and relationships with popes. Diego Laínez (1512–65) has enjoyed most of the attention regarding the sixteen Jesuits present at the Council of Trent, both for his actions there and for the letters he wrote while attending.61 The relationship the Society had to the Inquisition, unlike that to Tridentine reformers, was tense. Historian Pierroberto Scaramella has suggested new lines of research based on documents from the Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede (Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), since 1998 open to scholars of the general public. He observes that the traditional viewpoint, overshadowed by Ignatius’s own run-ins with the Holy Office, needs to be nuanced by an understanding of the ways in which the Society and the Inquisition were doing the same “anti-heretical” work at the same time; at times, they even cooperated.62 Regarding the relationship of the earliest Jesuits with popes, the historiographical tradition has been relatively focused on hierarchical questions: the promised support of the short papacy of Marcellus II (1501–55, r.1555); the inability of Clement XIII (1693–1769, r.1758–69) to protect the Society against increasing attacks; and the hostility of Paul IV (1476–1559, r.1555–59) and Clement XIV (1705–74, r.1769–74).63 As Mostaccio has pointed out, studies of the papal-Jesuit relationship rarely discuss the context, i.e. the ties (or conflicts) between the papacy and other religious orders. Rurale’s 2006 study of developments in papal-Jesuit relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries makes the same observation, and recommends correctives.64


Considerations for Contemporary and Future Scholars

Thus far this survey has suggested continuities (e.g. emphasis on sources in historical writing, focus on local instead of comparative studies) and breaks (e.g. the rise of social history, and a more critical approach). It is now time to address the remaining lacunae. Most scholarship about the early Society of Jesus in Italy concerns men, but many prominent Italian women were patrons of Jesuit colleges and churches, and twentieth- and twenty-first-century historiography has begun to look deeper into the relationship between Jesuits and women in the economic and artistic fields.65 One entrée into a broader approach is in a discussion of noble and royal confessors. Another is in spiritual direction of women of lower rank, including written works designed to instruct women in mental prayer and to offer them a version of the Spiritual Exercises geared for women and laypersons.66 Historian Maria Pia Donato’s study of eighteenth-century Roman salons notes that “many former Jesuits, in search of appropriate sociability and affective ties, exercised their skills for a female public” by attending the salon, for example, of Maria Cuccovilla Pizzelli (b.1735), who prior to the suppression studied with Croatian Jesuit Rajmond Kunić (1719–94).67 Finding more ex-Jesuits in salons can be useful in tracing the education of gentlewoman by the Society, as it is likely that those who did frequent the salons were, like Kunić, former teachers of the women hosting them. In addition, scholars should ask questions about the importance of masculinity and authority as they developed after the Society was founded; men have gender too.

The dominance of the Collegio Romano in studies of Jesuit teaching and intellectual activity has also created problems. The assumption is that the centralization of the Society is reflected in a uniformity of action. The study of Jesuit math and astronomy, for example, privileges this institution, with secondary attention paid to Jesuits at Bologna, Brescia, Mantua, Padua, and Parma, but virtually ignoring other institutions which also taught those subjects.68 Architectural historian Antonella Romano’s 1999 study of mathematics at the Collegio Romano provides some corrective to this, though few have followed up.69 For example, the recent Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets announced the ambitious purpose of focusing on Jesuit scientific activity in the seventeenth century, demonstrating both intellectual achievements and an innovative approach, which “consciously and deliberately laid the groundwork for an intellectual shift away from the tenets of Aristotelianism.” However, the only Jesuit teaching institution in its index is the Collegio Romano.70 The task for future generations of historians of Jesuit science and math education in the Italian peninsula must therefore be to focus more strongly on foundations in other regions. In addition, scholars interested in Jesuit education would do well to focus on other subjects: in a 2014 historiographical article, historian Paul Grendler lamented a downturn in the scholarly interest in “Jesuit teaching and writing in natural philosophy and the rest of the philosophical curriculum,” as opposed to mathematics.71

Further work is also needed on the relationship between Jesuits and secular priests in the Italian peninsula. Among diocesan seminaries, only the Seminario Romano was fully run by the Society, but Jesuits did lead some secular clergy in the Spiritual Exercises. They must also at least have crossed paths with parish priests during the domestic missions, and clashed over accusations of “poaching” members of the congregation. Diocesan clergy, even in the larger Italian cities, have not been frequently heard in studies of the sixteenth-century Society.



The availability of primary sources generated by rank-and-file Jesuits make these desiderata possible. The Society has a continuous tradition of preserving and writing its own history. Thousands of sources dating from its origins, including periodic reports sent by provinces to Rome, provide the earliest information on the workings of the Society; many of these are collected in Rome at the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI). Excerpts from these documents have been translated into English and published on several occasions. Many letters in their original languages are also available in print in the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSI) series, which began publication in 1894.72 A selection of these is now available at the electronic home of the ARSI, This website also contains scanned versions of manuscript catalogs from the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma (National central library, Roman branch), along with documents on the modern Society, and information about forthcoming digitization and editorial projects. The site also links to secondary sources related to Jesuits in Italian territories, including art historian Jean Vallery-Radot’s collection of architectural plans for colleges and houses, and Jesuit József Fejér’s compilation of dates of birth and death for members of the Society before 1640.73 More biographical and prosopographical information on the earliest Italian Jesuits can be constructed from Mario Scaduto’s printed catalog, and more organizational information from the published records of the early congregations.74 Some of the letters of the earliest missionaries in the peninsula have been translated and collected by Donnelly and by theologian Joseph Conwell.75 The continually updated New Sommervogel Online, produced at Boston College and hosted by Brill, is a searchable database of works written by and about Jesuits since 1540, the latest incarnation of the first bibliographies of the Society, begun in 1608.76 Thus the modern researcher is faced with an embarrassment of riches.

The pre-suppression Jesuits of the Italian peninsula and islands included some towering figures and are associated with significant innovations in art, architecture, teaching, and preaching. Modern historical research is more critical and comparative, and less local, providentialist, and self-reflective, than that of the earliest generations of scholarship on the Society, but the tradition from the beginning has been document-based: the difference over the centuries is not in sources, but in approach. Since the Jesuits left behind so many primary sources, historians of many kinds have explored the work of these “men astutely trained,” who continue to fascinate.


For more bibliographical information, consult Boston College Jesuit Bibliography: The New Sommervogel Online (NSO).


^ Back to text1. Miguel Batllori, review of Mario Scaduto, Storia della Compagnia di Gesù in Italia V: L’opera di Francesco Borgia: 1565–1572 (Rome: Civiltà Cattolica, 1992), Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu [hereafter AHSI] 62 (1993): 185–92, here 192.

^ Back to text2. John W. O’Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993); O’Malley, review of Scaduto, L’Opera di Francesco Borgia, in Catholic Historical Review 80 (1994): 595–96, here 595. See also Guido Mongini, “Censura e identità nella prima storiografia gesuitica (1547–1572),” in Nunc alia tempora, alii mores: Storici e storia in età postridentina, ed. Massimo Firpo (Florence: Olschki, 2005), 169–88.

^ Back to text3. For a discussion of autobiographical writing, see Adriano Prosperi, La vocazione: Storie di gesuiti tra Cinquecento e Seicento (Turin: Einaudi, 2016). Among the more significant modern studies of Ignatius are Robert Aleksander Maryks, ed., A Companion to Ignatius of Loyola: Life, Writings, Spirituality, Influence (Leiden: Brill, 2014); John W. O’Malley and James P. M. Walsh, eds., Constructing a Saint through Images: The 1609 Illustrated Biography of Ignatius of Loyola (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2008), and editions of Ignatius’s “autobiography” (e.g. John McManamon, The Text and Contexts of Ignatius Loyola’s “Autobiography” [New York: Fordham University Press, 2013]) and of the earliest biographies (e.g. Claude Pavur, ed., The Life of Ignatius of Loyola by Pedro de Ribadeneira [St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources {hereafter IJS}, 2014]). Full-length biographies of other generals include José García de Castro Valdés, Diego Laínez (1512–1565): Jesuita y teólogo del Concilio (Bilbao: Mensajero, 2013); Cándido de Dalmases, Francis Borgia: Grandee of Spain, Jesuit, Saint, trans. Cornelius Michael Buckley (St. Louis, MO: IJS, 1991); Tony Séverin, Un grand belge: Mercurian, 1514–1580: Curé ardennais, géneral des jésuites (Liége: H. Dessain, 1946); Fabrizio Martelli, Michelangelo Tamburini XIV generale dei gesuiti: Omaggio di Montese al suo illustre concittadino e alla sua famiglia (Formigine: Golinelli, 1994); and Auguste Carayon, Le Père Ricci: Général des jésuites a l’époque de leur suppression (1773): Biographie et pièces inédites (Paris: Lécureux, 1869).

^ Back to text4. Leopold von Ranke, History of the Popes: Their Church and State, vol. 3, trans. William Clark (New York: Colonial Press, 1901); Hans Böhmer, Jesuits: An Historical Study, trans. Paul Zeller Strodach (Philadelphia: Castle Press, 1928); Thomas Campbell, The Jesuits 1534–1921, vol. 1 (New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1921), 391–95; Claudio Ferlan, I gesuiti (Bologna: il Mulino, 2015); and William V. Bangert, A History of the Society of Jesus, 2d edition (St. Louis, MO: IJS, 1986), 177–79.

^ Back to text5. Juan Alfonso de Polanco, Vita Ignatii Loiolae et rerum Societatis Iesu historia (modern publication: Madrid: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu [hereafter IHSI], 1894–98); Niccolò Orlandini, Historia Societatis Iesu (Rome: Sermartelli, 1614); Francesco Sacchini, Historia Societatis Iesu (Antwerp: Nutius, 1620); and Giulio Cesare Cordara, Historiae Societatis Jesu pars sexta complectens res gestas sub Mutio Vitellescho (Rome: A. de Rubeis, 1750). See also André Ravier, La Compagnie de Jésus sous le gouvernemente d’Ignace de Loyola (1541–1556): D’après les Chroniques de J.-A. de Polanco (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1991).

^ Back to text6. Orazio Torsellini, De vita Francisci Xaverii qui primus è Societate Iesu in India et Iaponia Evangelium promulgavit (Rome: Gabiana, 1594).  Cf. the discussion in Franco Motta, “La compagine sacra: Elementi di un mito delle origini nella storiografia sulla Compagnia di Gesù,” Rivista storica italiana 117 (2005): 5–25, here 14–17, and Pedro Blanco Trías, Historiógrafos jesuitas siglos XVI–XIX (Valencia: Editorial Torres, 1947); John Renaldo, “A Seventeenth-Century Jesuit Historian: Daniello Bartoli,” Annali dell’Istituto italiano per gli studi storici 2 (1969): 209–22, here 209–11.

^ Back to text7. Adriano Prosperi, “The Missionary,” in Baroque personae, ed. Rosario Villari (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 160–94, here 165–66; Daniello Bartoli, Dell’istoria della Compagnia di Giesu, 6 vols. (Rome: Lazzeri, 1653–73); Bartoli, Istoria della Compagnia di Gesù dell’Italia, ed. Marino Biondi (Florence: Ponte alla Grazia, 1994), 34, 36. See also Renaldo, 203–16. An edition of Segneri’s works was published as Opere del padre Paolo Segneri della Compagnia di Giesu, accresciute dell’esposizione postuma del medesimo sopra il Magnificat, e d’un breve ragguaglio della sua vita, 2 vols. (Parma: Alberto Pazzoni e Paolo Monti, 1701). For the historiography regarding Jesuits and science, see Sheila Rabin’s essay in this collection.

^ Back to text8. Gian Paolo Brizzi, “Jesuits Expelled and Exiled to Italy: A New Direction for Research,” in La presenza in Italia dei gesuiti iberici espulsi: Aspetti religiosi, politici, culturali, ed. Ugo Baldini and Gian Paolo Brizzi (Bologna: CLUEB 2010), 7–11, here 7.

^ Back to text9. Silvia Mostaccio, “A Conscious Ambiguity: The Jesuits Viewed in Comparative Perspective in the Light of Some Recent Italian Literature,” Journal of Early Modern History 12 (2008): 409–41, here 410, referring to Pierre-Antoine Fabre and Antonella Romano, “Les jésuites dans le monde modern: Nouvelle approaches,” Revue de Synthèse 120 (1999): 247–60, q.v.

^ Back to text10. See Emanuele Colombo, “Gesuitomania: Studi recenti sulle missioni gesuitiche (1540–1773),” in Evangelizzazione e globalizzazione: Le missioni gesuitiche nell’età moderna tra storia e storiografia, ed. Michela Catto, Guido Mongini, ‎and Silvia Mostaccio (Rome: Società editrice Dante Alighieri, 2010), 31–59 for a summary of historiography on Italian Jesuits who undertook global missions.

^ Back to text11. Anthony Munday, The English Romayne Lyfe, Discovering: The Lives of the Englishmen at Roome (London: John Charlwoode, 1582); William Allen, An Apologie and True Declaration of the Institution and Endevours of the Two English Colleges (Rheims: Jean de Foigny?, 1581); Francis Aiden Gasquet, A History of the Venerable English College, Rome (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1920).

^ Back to text12. See Thomas M. McCoog, “‘Replant the uprooted trunk of the tree of faith’: The Society of Jesus and the Continental Colleges for Religious Exiles,” in Insular Christianity: Alternative Models of the Church in Britain and Ireland, c. 1570–c. 1700, ed. Robert Armstrong and Tadhg Ó Hannracháin (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 28–48, and Jason Nice, “Being ‘British’ in Rome: The Welsh at the English College, 1578–1584,” Catholic Historical Review 92 (2006): 1–24. On the Irish College, founded several decades after the English College, see e.g. Patrick J. Corish, “The Beginnings of the Irish College, Rome,” in The Irish College, Rome, and Its World, ed. Dáire Keough and Albert McDonnell (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008), 1–13; and John Hanley, “Records of the Irish College, Rome, under Jesuit Administration,” Archivum Hibernicum 27 (1964): 13–75.

^ Back to text13. E.g., ARSI, Archivio del Generale, Provincia Romana, 150a: Origine del Collegio romano e suoi progressi 1551–1743.

^ Back to text14. Ricardo Garcia Villoslada, Storia del Collegio romano dal suo inizio (1551) alla soppressione della Compagnia di Gesù (1773) (Rome: Apud Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1954); Caraman, University of the Nations: The Story of the Gregorian University with its Associated Institutes, the Biblical and Oriental 1551–1962 (New York: Paulist Press, 1981); Scaglione, The Liberal Arts and the Jesuit College System (Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1986), 81. Ernesto Rinaldi’s La fondazione del Collegio romano: Memorie storiche (Arezzo: Cooperativa Tipografica, 1914) was a mere 140 pages, largely focused on the sixteenth century, designed to provide some correctives to the twenty-three-page “Brevi memorie intorno al Collegio romano,” issued by the Propaganda Fide in 1870. Neither discusses the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in any detail. Two twenty-first century texts by Alessandro Ippoliti, Il Collegio romano: Storia della costruzione (co-authored with Benedetto Vetere) (Rome: Gangemi, [2003]) and Il Collegio romano: Storia e restauro (Rome: Gangemi, [2006]) are mainly concerned with architectural history.

^ Back to text15. These are largely focused on the science and math professors, e.g. Athanasius Kircher (1601/2–80) (cf. Joscelyn Godwin, Athanasius Kircher’s Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge [NY: Inner Traditions, 2009]) and Ruđer Josip Bošković (Roger Joseph Boscovich, 1711–87) (cf. Peter Lukan, “Roger Boscovich and the Quantum Mechanical Combination of Dynamic and Statistical Laws,” Almagest 6 [2015]: 64–79).  For more general information on scholars at the Collegio Romano, see inter alia Ugo Baldini, Legem impone subactis: Studi su filosofia e scienza dei Gesuiti in Italia, 1540–1632 (Rome: Bulzoni, 1992); Joseph Joblin, “L’enseignement du Collège Romain sur la justice et les origines de la pensée contemporaine,” Archivum historiae pontificiae 39 (2001): 105–12; Paul F. Grendler, “The Culture of the Jesuit Teacher 1548–1772,” Journal of Jesuit Studies [hereafter JJS] 3, no.1 (2016): 17–41, accessed October 14, 2016, doi: 10.1163/22141332-00301002; Frederick J. McGinness, “The Collegio Romano, the University of Rome, and the Decline and Rise of Rhetoric in the Late Cinquecento,” Roma moderna e contemporanea 3 (1995): 601–24; and Peter Dear, “Jesuit Mathematical Science and the Reconstitution of Experience in the Early Seventeenth Century,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 18 (1987): 133–75.

^ Back to text16. Simon Ditchfield, “In Search of Local Knowledge: Rewriting Early Modern Italian Religious History,” Cristianesimo nella storia 19 (1998): 255–96. Recent examples of scholarship on the colleges in the areas noted in the text include: Gian Paolo Brizzi, Anna Maria Matteucci, and Giancarlo Angelozzi, Dall’isola alla città: I gesuiti a Bologna (Bologna: Nuova Alfa, 1988); Silvio A. P. Catalioto, I gesuiti a Messina: Storia urbanistica, architettonica e monumentale dal 1548 al 2010 (Messina: Di Nicolò edizioni, [2011]); Flavio Rurale, I gesuiti a Milano: Religione e politica nel secondo Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1992); Jennifer Selwyn, A Paradise Inhabited by Devils: The Jesuits’ Civilizing Mission in Early Modern Naples (Aldershot and Rome: Ashgate and IHSI, 2004); Maria Clara Ruggieri Tricoli, ed., Costruire Gerusalemme: Il complesso gesuitico della Casa Professa di Palermo dalla storia al museo (Milan: Edizioni Lybra Immagine, 2001); and Mario Zanardi, ed., I gesuiti e Venezia: Momenti e problemi di storia veneziana della Compagnia di Gesù (Venice: Giunta Regionale del Veneto, 1994).

^ Back to text17. Francesco Divenuto, ed., Napoli, l’Europa, e la Compagnia di Gesù nella “Cronica” di Giovan Francesco Araldo (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1998), an edition of the five-volume manuscript, and Divenuto, Napoli sacra del XVI secolo: Repertorio delle fabbriche religiose napoletane nella Cronaca del gesuita Giovan Francesco Araldo (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1990).

^ Back to text18. The most synthetic of his studies is Raimondo Turtas, I gesuiti in Sardegna: 450 anni di storia 1559–2009 (Cagliari: CUEC, 2010).

^ Back to text19. John Patrick Donnelly, “Padua, Louvain and Paris: Three Case Studies of University–Jesuit Confrontation (1591–1596),” Louvain Studies 15 (1990): 38–52.

^ Back to text20. On Gonzaga, see Christina Jetter, Die Jesuitenheiligen Stanislaus Kostka und Aloysius von Gonzaga: Patrone der studierend Jugent-Leitbilder der katholischen Elite (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 2009). On Bellarmine, see e.g. Peter Godman, The Saint as Censor: Robert Bellarmine between Inquisition and Index (Leiden: Brill, 2000) and Bellarmine, Autobiografia (1613), ed. Pasquale Giustiniani (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1999).

^ Back to text21. Peter Togni, “Novices in the Early Society of Jesus: Antonio Valentino, S.J., and the Novitiate at Novellara, Italy,” in Spirit Style Story: Essays Honoring John W. Padberg, S.J., ed. Thomas M. Lucas (Chicago: LoyolaPress, 2002), 227–67.

^ Back to text22. Filippo Iappelli, “Il collegio dei gesuiti a Capua (1611–1767),” in Roberto Bellarmino Arcivescovo di Capua, teologo e pastore della Riforma Cattolica, ed. Gustavo Galeota (Torre del Greco: Stabilimento “A.C.M.”, 1990), 491–514, here 505–9; Lance Gabriel Lazar, Working in the Vineyard of the Lord: Jesuit Confraternities in Early Modern Italy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005); Maria Antonietta Rinaldi, “I gesuiti in Campania nell’età post-tridentina: L’azione delle congregazioni mariane,” in Il Concilio di Trento nella vita spirituale e culturale del Mezzogiorno tra XVI e XVII secolo, ed. Gabriele De Rosa and Antonio Cestaro (Venosa: Edizioni Osanna Venosa, 1988), 243–57; Christopher Black, Italian Confraternities in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, repr. 2003), 70; and Raimondo Turtas, “Statuti della Congregazione Mariana del Collegio di Sassari (post 1575–ante 1580),” AHSI 62 (1993):129–60.

^ Back to text23. Lazar, 13–14.

^ Back to text24. The Annales school favors the study of long-term trends; their work is named for the journal Annales d’histoire économique et sociale, founded in 1929 by historians Marc Bloch (1886–1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878–1956).

^ Back to text25. Pietro Pirri, L’interdetto di Venezia del 1606 e i gesuiti: Silloge di documenti con introduzione (Rome: IHSI, 1959); see also William Bouwsma, Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).

^ Back to text26. Jaska Kainulainen, Paolo Sarpi: A Servant of God and State (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 1, 5, 54, 149–50, 175, and 224. See Sarpi, Istoria dell’interdetto e altri scritti editi e inediti, 3 vols., ed. Manlio Duilio Busnelli and Giovanni Gambarin (Bari: Laterza, 1940); and Vittorio Frajese, Sarpi scettico: Stato e chiesa a Venezia tra ’500 e ’600 (Bologna, 1994). Gianvittorio Signorotto, “Il rientro dei gesuiti a Venezia: La trattativa (1606–1657),” 385–420, and Giuseppe Gullino, “Il rientro dei gesuiti a Venezia nel 1657: Le ragioni della politica e dell’economia,” 421–34, both in Zanardi.

^ Back to text27. The most recent full-length study of the Monita is Sabina Pavone, Le astuzie dei gesuiti: Le false Istruzioni segrete della Compagnia di Gesù e la polemica antigesuita nei secoli XVII e XVIII (Rome: Salerno Editrice, 2000). English translation: The Wily Jesuits and the Monita secreta: The Forged Secret Instructions of the Jesuits—Myth and Reality (St. Louis, MO: IJS, 2005).

^ Back to text28. Bangert, History of the Society of Jesus, 182–83; see also Emanuele Colombo, Un gesuita inquieto: Carlo Antonio Casnedi (1643–1725) e il suo tempo (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2006). Pietro Stella’s magisterial multi-volume Il giansenesimo in Italia (Zürich: Pas Verlag, 1966–95, repr. Rome: Ed. di storia e letteratura, 2006) includes several volumes of documents concerning the controversy in Piedmont. No single work has updated canon lawyer Arturo Jemolo’s Giansenismo in Italia prima della rivoluzione (Bari: Laterza, 1928).

^ Back to text29. The most comprehensive work on the Italian Enlightenment is Franco Venturi’s Settecento riformatore, a five-part work in seven volumes (Turin: Einaudi, 1969–90). The English translations, by R. Burr Litchfield, are known as The End of the Old Regime in Europe, 1768–1776 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989–2014). See also Mario Rosa, Settecento religioso: Politica della ragione e religione del cuore (Venice: Marsilio, 1999); Dino Carpanetto and Giuseppe Ricuperati, Italy in the Age of Reason, 1685–1789, trans. Caroline Higgitt (London: Longman, 1987); and Bernard Plongeron, “Recherches sur l’‘Aufklärung’ catholique en Europe occidentale (1770–1830),” Il pensiero politico 3 (1970): 30–58. William V. Bangert’s A Bibliographical Essay on the History of the Society of Jesus: Books in English (St. Louis, MO: IJS, 1976) contains less than two pages concerning the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

^ Back to text30. Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 35.

^ Back to text31. Flavio Rurale, “Male Religious Orders in Sixteenth-Century Italy,” trans. Lydia G. Cochrane, in Spain in Italy: Politics, Society, and Religion 1500–1700, ed. Thomas James Dandelet and John A. Marino (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 481–515, here 482.

^ Back to text32. Ulrich Lehner, The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 8, 41.

^ Back to text33. Barbara Ann Naddeo, Vico and Naples: The Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011), 50, 53, and (for the quotes) 80–81.  See also Donald Phillip Verene, “Giambattista Vico’s New Science of the Common Nature of the Nations,” in A Companion to Enlightenment Historiography, ed. Sophie Bourgault and Robert Sparling (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 217–46.

^ Back to text34. Jonathan I. Israel, Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man, 1670–1752 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 523, and Paolo Mattia Doria, Manoscritti napoletani di Paolo Mattia Doria, ed. Adele Spedicati, 6 vols. (Galatina: Congedo Editore, 1979–86), esp. vol. I, 298, vol. III, 218–9, and vol. V, 435–6.

^ Back to text35. Hydra mistica sive De corrupta morali doctrina dialogus stampata a Napoli, con la falsa indicazione di Colonia (Naples: n.p., 1691), repr. ed. by Fabrizio Lomonaco (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2002). See also Dino Carpanetto and Giuseppe Ricuperati, Italy in the Age of Reason, 1685–1789, trans. Caroline Higgitt (London: Longman, 1987), 84.

^ Back to text36. Hanns Gross, Rome in the Age of Enlightenment: The Post-Tridentine Syndrome and the ancien regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 278.

^ Back to text37. David Forgacs, ed. An Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings, 1916–1935 (New York: Schocken Books, 1988): “Notes for an Introduction and an Approach to the Study of Philosophy and the History of Culture,” section i: “Some Preliminary Reference Points,” 324–43, at 337; and “Grammar and Technique,” 358–60, at 360.

^ Back to text38. Isidoro Pinedo Iparraguirre and Inmaculada Fernández Arrillaga, eds., Manuel Luengo, S.I.: Diario de 1796; La Llegada de los jesuitas españoles a Bolonia (Alicante: Universidad de Alicante, 2010); see also Brizzi, “Jesuits Expelled and Exiled to Italy,” 8–10, and Mariagrazia Russo and António Júlio Limpo Trigueiros, I gesuiti dell’Assistenza Lusitana esiliati in Italia (1759–1831) (Padua: CLUEP, 2013).

^ Back to text39. See, e.g., Jacob Burckhardt, Der Cicerone (Basel: Schweighauser, 1855) and Burkhardt, Die Malerei nach inhalt und Aufgaben (MS, after 1887), translated by David Britt and Caroline Beamish as Italian Renaissance Painting According to Genres (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2005).

^ Back to text40. The idea stems from the document De ratione aedificiorum (On the manner of constructing buildings), Decree 34 from the first general congregation (1558), printed in a modern edition, Rome: Apud Curiam Praepositi Generalis, 1954. See the discussion in Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit Art in Rome, 1565–1610 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), 3.

^ Back to text41. Pietro Pirri, Giovanni Tristano e i primordi della architettura gesuitica (Rome: IHSI, 1955); Richard Bösel, Jesuitenarchitektur in Italien (1540–1773), 1. Die Baudenkmäler der römischen und der neapolitanischen Ordensprovinz (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1985) and Bösel and Herbert Karner, Jesuitenarchitektur in Italien (1540–1773), 2. Die Baudenkmäler der mailändischen Ordensprovinz (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2007); Luciano Patetta and Stefano Della Torre, eds., L’architettura della Compagnia di Gesù in Italia XVI–XVII secolo (Genoa: Casa Editrice Marietti, 1992); and Giuseppe Rocchi Coopmans de Yoldi, ed., Architetture della Compagnia ignaziana nei centri antichi italiani (Florence: Alinea Editrice, 1999).

^ Back to text42. Giovanni Sale, “Architectural Simplicity and Jesuit Architecture,” trans. Philip J. Rosato, in The Jesuits and the Arts 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley and Gauvin Alexander Bailey (Philadelphia: St. Joseph’s University Press, 2005), 29–44. A lengthy and witty discussion of the development of the term “Jesuit style” is found in Carlo Galassi-Paluzzi, Storia segreta dello stile dei gesuiti (Rome: Mondini, 1951). See also Evonne Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), esp. 15–41; and Bailey, “Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting under the Jesuits and Its Legacy throughout Catholic Europe, 1565–1773,” in O’Malley and Bailey, 123–98, here 198.

^ Back to text43. Bailey, “Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting,” 125. On individual painters, see e.g. Pietro Pirri, Giuseppe Valeriano S.I.: Architetto e pittore, 1542–1596 (Rome: IHSI, 1970); and David Nelting, “Nicolo Circignanis Fresken in Santo Stefano Rotondo und Antonio Gallonios ‘Trattato de gli instrumenti di martirio’: Zwei Beispiele manieristischer Praxis unter den Bedingungen der Gegenreformation,” Romanische Forschungen 113 (2001): 70–81.

^ Back to text44. Bailey, “Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting,” 154.

^ Back to text45. Bailey, Between Renaissance and Baroque, 4, 7, 19, and 261; James Lees-Milne, Baroque in Italy (London, Batsford [1959]), 47, 72, 80–81; Rudolf Wittkower and Irma B. Jaffe, eds., Baroque Art: The Jesuit Contribution (New York: Fordham University Press, 1972), and Bernadette Majorana, “Une pastorale spectaculaire: Missions et missionnaires jésuites en Italie (XVIe–XVIIIe siècle),” Annales: Histoire, sciences sociales 57 (2002): 297–320.

^ Back to text46. Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque, 1–2 and 5.

^ Back to text47. Maria Francesca D’Amante, “Teatro educativo dei primi gesuiti: Dalla retorica alla drammatizzazione,” Educazione: Giornale di pedagogia critica 2 (2013): 55–74.

^ Back to text48. William McCabe, An Introduction to the Jesuit Theater, ed. Louis J. Oldani (St. Louis: IJS, 1983), 11–14; see Georg Michael Pachtler, Ratio studiorum et institutiones scholasticae Societatis Jesu per Germaniam olim vigentes vol. 1: 1541–1599 (Berlin: Hoffman, 1887), 129, and Allan P. Farrell, ed. and trans., The Jesuit Ratio studiorum of 1599 (Washington, DC: Conference of Major Superiors of Jesuits, 1970). Per Bjurström argues that the Germanicum was the first place where Jesuit students were allowed to perform Latin plays, but McCabe may have been referring to vernacular works. See Bjurström, “Baroque Theater and the Jesuits,” in Wittkower and Jaffee, 99–110, here 99.

^ Back to text49. McCabe, 48, and Nigel Griffin, “Jesuit Drama: A Guide to the Literature,” in Origini della commedia improvvisa o dell’arte, ed. Maria Chiabò and Federico Doglio (Rome: Torre d’Orfeo, 1996). 465–96. On individual dramatists, see e.g. Marc Fumaroli, “Le Crispus et la Flavia du P. Bernardino Stefonio SJ: Contribution à l’histoire du théâtre du Collegio romano (1597–1628),” Les fêtes de la Renaissance vol. 3, ed. Jean Jacquot (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975): 505–24; Mirella Saulini, Il teatro di un gesuita siciliano: Stefano Tuccio S.J. (Rome: Bulzoni, 2002); and Michela Sacco Messineo, Il martire e il tiranno: Ortensio Scammacca e il teatro tragico barocco (Rome: Bulzoni, 1988).

^ Back to text50. Lucia Strappini, La tragedia del buffone: Percorsi del comico e del tragico nel teatro del XVII secolo (Rome: Bulzoni, 2003), 110. See also Gianfranco Damiano, “Il Collegio gesuitico di Brera: Festa, teatro e drammaturgia fra XVI e XVII secolo,” in La scena della Gloria: Drammaturgia e spettacolo a Milano in età spagnola, ed. Annamaria Cascetta and Roberta Carpani (Milan: Vita e pensiero, 1995), 473–503; Raimondo Turtas, “Appunti sull’attività teatrale nei college gesuitici sardi nei secoli XVI e XVII,” in Arte e cultura del ’600 e del ’700, ed. Tatiana Kirova (Napoli: Ed. Scientifiche Italiane, 1984), 157–72.

^ Back to text51. Louis Oldani and Victor R. Yanitelli, “Jesuit Theater in Italy: Its Entrances and Exit,” Italica 76 (1999): 18–32, here 20.

^ Back to text52. Andrea Perrucci, A Treatise on Acting, from Memory and by Improvisation (1699) = Dell’arte rappresentativa, premeditata ed all’improviso, eds. Francesco Cotticelli, Anne Goodrich Heck, and Thomas Heck (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008), “To the Reader,” 3–4.

^ Back to text53. T. Frank Kennedy, “Jesuits and Music,” in O’Malley and Bailey, 413–26, here 415. For a fuller treatment of this issue, see Kennedy, “Music and Jesuits: Historiography, and a Global Perspective,” JJS 3, no.3 (2015): 365–76, accessed October 14, 2016, doi: 10.1163/22141332-00303002, which summarized trends and influences in global Jesuit musicology.

^ Back to text54. T. Frank Kennedy, “Jesuits and Music,” 424, Thomas D. Culley and Clement J. McNaspy, “Music and the Early Jesuits (1540–1565),” AHSI 40 (1971): 213–45; and Simon Ditchfield, “Of Missions and Models: The Jesuit Enterprise (1540–1773); Reassessed in Recent Literature,” Catholic Historical Review 93 (2007) 325–43, here 328.

^ Back to text55. Grove Music Online (, Deane Root, ed., is the successor to the reference work The New Grove Dictionary of Music and also encompasses numerous related publications (including The New Grove Dictionary of Opera and The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). See also Ausilia Magaudda and Danilo Costantini, “The Musical and Theatrical Activities of the Jesuits in the Kingdom of Naples: Accounts from the Gazzetta di Napoli (1675–1768),” in Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America, ed. Anna Harwell Celenza and Anthony R. DelDonna (Philadelphia: St. Joseph’s University Press, 2014), 57–87, here 66, 71, and 84 n. 66, and Emanuele Colombo, “‘The music must serve the poetry’: The Jesuit Oratorio in Eighteenth-Century Milan,” in Celenza and DelDonna, 25–44.

^ Back to text56. Kennedy, “Music and Jesuits,” and Ignazio Macchiarella and Roberto Milleddu, “‘Bella festa si fa ncelu’: Jesuits and Musical Traditions in the Heart of the Mediterranean,” JJS 3, no.3 (2015), 415–36, accessed October 14, 2017, doi: 10.1163/22141332-00303009.

^ Back to text57. Luigi Mezzadri, “Storiografia delle missioni,” in Giacomo Martina and Ugo Dovere, La predicazione in Italia, 457–89, here 459, 474–75; Adriano Prosperi, “Missioni popolari e visite pastorali in Italia tra ’500 e ’600,” Mélanges de l’École français de Rome, Italie et Méditerranée 190 (1997): 767–83. See also Giuseppe Orlandi, “La missione popolare: Strutture e contenuti,” in Martina and Dovere, 503–35.

^ Back to text58. These include Carlo Luongo, Silvestro Landini e le “nostre Indie” (Scandicci: Firenze Atheneum, 2008); Adriano Prosperi, “‘Otras Indias’: Missionari della Controriforma tra contadini e selvaggi,” in Scienze, credenze occulte, livelli di cultura: Convegno internazionale di studi (Firenze, 26–30 giugno 1980) (Florence: Olschki, 1982), 205–34 and “The Missionary,” esp. 178–81 and 183–86, the latter portions of which refer to Paolo Segneri’s Italian missions in the 1670s; Carla Faralli, “Le missioni dei gesuiti in Italia (sec. XVI–XVII): Problemi di una ricerca in corso,” Bollettino della Società di studi valdesi 82 (1975): 97–112, with a map of the missions on 105; and Armando Guidetti, Le missioni popolari: I grandi gesuiti italiani; Disegno storico-biografico delle missioni popolari dei gesuiti d’Italia dalle origini al Concilio Vaticano II (Milan: Rusconi Libri, 1988).

^ Back to text59. Robert Aleksander Maryks, The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews: Jesuits of Jewish Ancestry and Purity-of-Blood Laws in the Early Society of Jesus (Leiden: Brill, 2009), xxvii, 123. See also James Bernauer and Robert Aleksander Maryks, eds. “The Tragic Couple”: Encounters between Jews and Jesuits (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

^ Back to text60. See Emanuele Colombo, “‘Infidels’ at Home: Jesuits and Muslim Slaves in Seventeenth-Century Naples and Spain,” JJS 1, no.2 (2014): 192–211, accessed October 14, 2016, doi: 10.1163/22141332-00102003. For an overview of this and other internal conflicts within the Society, see Michela Catto, La Compagnia divisa: Il dissenso nell’ordine gesuitico tra ’500 e ’600 (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2009).

^ Back to text61. Sabina Pavone, “Preti riformati e riforma della chiesa: I gesuiti al Concilio di Trento,” Rivista storica italiana [hereafter RSI] 117 (2005): 110–34. On Laínez at the Council of Trent, see esp. Paul Oberholzer, ed., Diego Laínez (1512–1565) and His Generalate: Jesuit with Jewish Roots, Close Confidant of Ignatius of Loyola, Preeminent Theologian of the Council of Trent (Rome: IHSI, 2015).

^ Back to text62. Pierroberto Scaramella, “I primi gesuiti e l’Inquisizione romana (1547–1562),” RSI 117 (2005): 135–57; see also Guido Mongini, “Per un profilo dell’eresia gesuitica: la Compagnia di Gesù sotto processo,” RSI 117 (2005): 26–63.

^ Back to text63. Mostaccio, 414–16, and Katharine Dorothea Ewart, Italy from 1494 to 1790 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), 397–99.

^ Back to text64. Mostaccio, 426–28 and Rurale, “La Compagnia di Gesù tra riforme, controriforme e riconferma dell’Istituto (1540–inizio XVII secolo),” Cheiron 43 (2006): 25–52.

^ Back to text65. See, e.g., Maria Ann Conelli, “A Typical Patron of Extraordinary Means: Isabella Feltria della Rovere and the Society of Jesus,” Renaissance Studies [hereafter RS] 18 (2004): 412–43; Chiara Franceschini, “‘Los scholares son cosa de su excelentia, como lo es toda la Compañia’: Eleonora di Toledo and the Jesuits,” in The Cultural World of Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence and Siena, ed. Konrad Eisenbichler, 181–206 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); Caroline P. Murphy, “Lavinia Fontana and le dame della città: Understanding Female Artistic Patronage in Late Sixteenth-Century Bologna,” RS 10 (1996): 190–208; Carolyn Valone, “Women on the Quirinal Hill: Patronage in Rome, 1560–1630,” Art Bulletin 76 (1994): 129–46; and several studies by Olwen Hufton, including “Altruism and Reciprocity: The Early Jesuits and Their Female Patrons,” RS 15 (2001): 328–35.

^ Back to text66. Mario Rosa, “The Nun,” in Villari, Baroque Personae, 195–236, here 233, referring to Camillo Ettore, Ritiramento spirituale per impiegare in bene dell’anima otto overo dieci giorni, nella considerazione delle verità eterne all’idea de gli Esercitii spirituali di sant’Ignatio Loiola: Facilitato per le persone laiche, regolari, ecclesiastiche (Venice: Niccolò Pezzana, 1689).

^ Back to text67. Maria Pia Donato, “The Temple of Female Glory: Female Self-Affirmation in the Roman Salon of the Grand Tour,” in Italy’s Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour, ed. Paula Findlen, Wendy Wassyng Roworth, and Catherine M. Sama (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 59–78, here 70.

^ Back to text68. Anita Mancia, “Gesuiti e scienza: Note su un recente volume,” AHSI 62 (1993): 215–48; Baldini, Legem impone subactis and Baldini, “Matteo Ricci nel Collegio romano,” AHSI 82 (2013): 115–64.

^ Back to text69. Antonella Romano, La contre-réforme mathématique: Constitution et diffusion d’une culture mathématique jésuite à la Renaissance (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1999). Among the few exceptions to this Roman bias is Rosario Moscheo, I gesuiti e le matematiche nel secolo XVI: Maurolico, Clavio e l’esperienza siciliana (Messina: Società messinese di storia patria, 1998), which concentrates on the developing Ratio studiorum.

^ Back to text70. Mark A. Waddell, Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), both quotes from 5, emphasis in the original.

^ Back to text71. Paul F. Grendler, “Jesuit Schools in Europe: A Historiographical Essay,” JJS 1, no.1 (2014): 7–25, here 15, accessed October 15, 2016, doi: 10.1163/22141332-00101002.

^ Back to text72. Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, published in Madrid and Rome from 1894 through 1930 and revived in 2005 (a total of 245 volumes by 2016).

^ Back to text73. The digital Monumenta, which as of October 13, 2016 number 114 out of the 245 total, can be found at or via Vallery-Radot, Le recueil de plans d’édifices is at, and Josephus [József] Fejér, Defuncti primi saeculi societatis Jesu 1540–1640, vol. 1: Assistentia Italiae et Germaniae (cum Gallia usque ad 1607) (Rome: IHSI, 1982) and vol. 2: Assistentia Hispaniae, Lusitaniae et–ab anno 1608–Galliae (Rome: IHSI, 1982); and Catalogus addenda et corrigenda (no publication information; the scanned typed pages begin with one headed “Addenda et corrigenda in elencho ‘Defuncti Primi Saeculi S.J., P.I.’ [a P. Franc. Salvo SJ]”) are also available at the site.

^ Back to text74. Mario Scaduto, Catalogo dei gesuiti d’Italia, 1540–1565 (Rome: ISHI, 1968); John W. Padberg, Martin O’Keefe, and John McCarthy, eds., For Matters of Greater Moment: The First Thirty Jesuit General Congregations (St. Louis: IJS, 1994).

^ Back to text75. John Patrick Donnelly, ed. Jesuit Writings of the Early Modern Period: 1540–1640 (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006); Donnelly, ed. and trans., Year By Year with the Early Jesuits (1537–1556): Selections from the “Chronicon” of Juan de Polanco, S.J. (St. Louis: IJS, 2004); Joseph F. Conwell, A Brief and Exact Account: The Recollections of Simão Rodrigues on the Origin and Progress of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: IJS, 2004).

^ Back to text76. Kasper Volk and Chris Staysniak, “Bringing Jesuit Bibliography into the Twenty-First Century: Boston College’s New Sommervogel Online,JJS 3, no. 1 (2016): 61–83, accessed October 14, 2016, doi:10.1163/22141332-00301004. The database is available at

Cite this page
Kathleen Comerford, “The Historiography of Jesuits in the Italian Peninsula and Islands before the Suppression”, in: Jesuit Historiography Online. Consulted online on 30 March 2017 <>
First published online: 2016

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