MANUAL FOR JESUITS

Instructio pro superioribus.

Rome, Collegium Romanum Societatis Jesu, 1615.

£850

8vo. pp. (iv) 48 (iv). Roman letter, little Italic. T-p within woodcut architectural frame, woodcut Jesuit printer’s device, typographical initials and ornaments. Light water stain to lower blank corners, one gathering slightly browned, minimal marginal foxing, small loss to fore-edge of last. A good copy in wrappers, minor loss to spine and corners.

A good copy of the third edition of this important manual for Jesuit superiors. Cardinal Claudio Aquaviva (1543-1615) is one of the major figures of the Counter-Reformation and among those responsible for the Jesuits’ enormous theological and political success in the C17. After a swift career in the echelons of the Jesuit Order, from the 1580s he devoted himself to the writing of works concerned with the education of Jesuit priests and the characteristics necessary to become good Superiors. First published in Rome in 1606, ‘Instructio’ was based on one of several letters he wrote to Superiors of the Congregation ‘to offer…counsels and directions to enable them to be of greater help to their subjects in their interior life’ (Guibert, ‘Jesuits’, 243). It lays down general guidelines seeking to ‘increase and confirm the soul of the Society’, focusing on the Superiors’ demeanour, the role of prayer and serious mistakes made by them in their daily pastoral care, e.g., ignoring the spiritual ‘illnesses’ of their subjects and encouraging spiritual lassitude. Among the advice given so as to maintain and improve the spirituality of the Order was the use of Ignatius’s spiritual exercises, oration and meditation. Aquaviva’s advice to Superiors was integral to the shaping of the Congregation in the epoch of its Golden Age.  

BM STC It. C17, p. 43; Sommervogel I, 258.4. J. de Guibert, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice (1972).

L3264

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