Three Centuries of Jesuit Contributions to Science in China (1600-1900)

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area


The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, from the 17th to 19th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of knowledge, science, and culture between China and the West, and had an impact on Christian culture in Chinese society today.

This exhibit displays key library holdings of academic and primary source works on the Jesuit missions to China covering early pioneers such as St. Francis Xavier, Matteo Ricci, Johann Adam Schall von Bell and Ferdinand Verbiest. Drawn from the significant holdings in Lauinger Library’s Special Collections Research Center, several representative original works are on display, including Athanasius Kircher's China Monumentis (1667), Matteo Ricci's De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas Suscepta ab Societate Iesu (1616) and Travels of the Jesuits, into various parts of the world, particularly China and the East-Indies (1762).

Serving the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States, Georgetown University’s Special Collections and Woodstock Theological Center Library hold one of the nation’s best collections of works on Jesuit missions in East Asia.

This exhibit has been installed to coincide with Jesuit Heritage Week (January 29 to February 4, 2012).