JESUIT HAGIOGRAPHY

Historia de la vida del P. Francesco Xavier.

Seville, Francesco de Lyra, 1619.

£1,950

FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (xvi) 857 (xi). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, full-page woodcut of cross within arch, decorated initials and ornaments. Outer margin of first and last few ll. frayed and repaired with a little loss, varying degrees of browning throughout, tiny worm trail to blank lower margin of one gathering. A perfectly acceptable copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, title inked to spine, a.e.r., ex-libris of Jesuit Collegium of Sts Peter and Paul in Mexico City, marca de fuego of Seminario Conciliar de Mexico to upper fore-edge.

Scarce copy of the first Castilian translation by Alonso de Sandoval S.J. of this most important life of St Francis Xavier. João de Luceña (1549-1600) was a Portuguese Jesuit who spent his life in Lisbon. In addition to numerous volumes of sermons considered among the great outputs of Portuguese literature, in 1600 he published in Portuguese the extremely successful ‘Historia’—the hagiography of one of the founders of the Jesuit Order, translated into several languages including Italian, Latin and Catalan. ‘Historia’ follows Xavier’s life from birth to his education and early preaching activity, devoting most of the 800 pages to his missionary activity in India, Japan and China, including the foundation of colleges, his conversion of princes and monarchs and resilience to local opposition. Anecdotal narratives are frequent, highlighting his preaching power, divine providential assistance and his keenness to devote, like a martyr, his life to evangelisation. Xavier is presented as ‘Apóstolo de las Índias’ to stress the appropriation of the Oriental Indies as a land of evangelisation by Jesuit missionaries. In addition to affirming a strictly Portuguese nationalist message, Luceña sought to counteract ‘the efforts of the mendicant orders to penetrate into China and Japan, by affirming, on the one hand, the priority and originality of the Jesuit project of evangelisation and, on the other, the superiority of its knowledge and dominion over Asian cultures in qualitative and theological terms’ (Guimarães, ‘Entre a Hagiografia e a Crónica’, 112).

Born in Spain and raised in Peru, Alonso de Sandoval S.J. (1576-1652) was a missionary in Colombia who worked towards the evangelisation of African slaves. His most important work, ‘De instauranda Æthiopum salute’ (Seville, 1627), was an ethnographic treatise for the instruction of Jesuit missionaries on African culture, methods of evangelisation, reflections on the suffering and conditions of slaves in Spanish America, and even reprimands against brutal slave owners.

Only UPenn, Newberry and Indiana copies recorded in the US.

Palau 143366;             Medina, Bib. hispano-americana, 693; Graesse IV, 277 (mentioned only); Cordier, Bib. Japonica, 138. Not in Brunet, Cordier, Bib. Sinica or Alden. J. Gonçalves Guimarães, ‘Entre a Hagiografia e a Crónica. A História da Vida do Padre Francisco de Xavier de João de Lucena’, Review of Culture International Edition 19 (2007), 100-12.

L2906

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