The conference celebrating Jesuit education and the 400th anniversary of Heythrop College is a happy exception, with Dr Francesca Knox of Heythrop College providing the benefit of her knowledge of Jesuit theology and theologians. Heythrop College further provided several books, in a welcome collaboration between it, Senate House Library and the Warburg Institute: Heythrop is strong in the Catholic theology absent from the other institutions, which for their part contributed evidence of Jesuit scholarship in other areas and also anti-Jesuit material.
This particular conference, “’For the Greater Glory of God and the More Universal Good’” was rewarding to curate both for the collaborative element and for the range of interests contained within the subject matter. I divided the topic into five themes. The best represented was “Jesuit Scholarship”, with books ranging from Irish history to mathematics, physics, numismatics, Egyptology and even a treatise by Benito Pereira on magic, dream interpretation and astrology, loaned by the Warburg Institute. Linked with scholarship was “Jesuit creativity”, represented by poems by John Donne (a Protestant influenced by Jesuits) and by Gerard Manly Hopkins.“Founding the Jesuits” was a small but important section to acknowledge their origins. For sheer size – 528 folio pages, bound sturdily in calf over wood – the overwhelming work here was an incunable edition of Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda aurea, as the compilation of saints’ lives which started Ignatius of Loyola on his spiritual journey. Ignatius took the Jesuit coat of arms from the legend of Ignatius of Antioch, on whose heart his executioners found the three golden letters “IHS”, the monogram of Jesus, and for this reason the book was opened at the legend of Ignatius of Antioch. Rubrication was an added bonus. What marked the next section, “Jesuit theology”, is the small size of the volumes, little books by Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, Superior General Claudio Acquaviva, Robert Southwell and others, easy to slip into pockets. We finished with “Anti-Jesuit Sentiment”.
All early printed books proclaim something about book history: for example, about production, audiences, and illustrative methods. Bibliography was inherent in this display with the choice of Christoph Clavius’s arithmetic textbook Epitome Arithmeticae Practicae, about which the mathematical historian Augustus De Morgan wrote in his Arithmetical Books from the Invention of Printing to the Present Time: “Perhaps there are more extensive examples of the square root worked by the old method in this treatise than would easily be found elsewhere”. Library history also slipped in: this same book formerly belonged to the Jesuit College in Brera, Milan, presumably leaving it when the College was suppressed and its books confiscated in 1773. Pride of place for provenance definitely falls to Roberto Bellarmino’s Judicium de libro quem Lutherani vocant Concordiae (1586), in a copy now in Heythrop College. The volume formerly belonged successively to Richard Latewar and Archbishop William Laud (1573-1645), both of St John’s College, Oxford; Nicholas Cliffe, who succeeded Laud in 1616 as incumbent of West Tilbury in Essex; the Society of Jesus in Oxford; and St Mary’s Hall Stonyhurst, the preparatory school for Stonyhurst College.
Dr Karen Attar is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies and the Rare Books Librarian at Senate House Library, University of London.