LOYOLA, Ignatius de


LOYOLA, Ignatius de. Exercitia spiritvalia

Douai, Jean Bogard, 1586


16mo. pp. 180 (viii). Roman letter, some Italic, charming woodcut floriated initials, one typographical headpiece. Woodcut Jesuit device on title page, printed table of days. T-p a bit dusty, very light age browning, minimal marginal foxing. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, covers a little soiled. C.1900 bookplate “Bibliotheca S.J. Maison Saint Augustin Enghien” to front paste-down, contemporary ms. ex-libris “Collegii Soc(ieta)tis Jesu Leodii” to t-p.

A charming, rare, pocket edition of St Ignatius’ Exercitia Spiritualia, finely printed at the Jesuit College at Douai. St. Ignatius underwent religious conversion while recuperating in 1521 from wounds suffered in battle. He began writing down his experiences in order to help himself “converse about the things of God.” These were the origins of the Spiritual Exercises, on which Ignatius continued to work for the next two decades. The Exercises encapsulated the essence of his own spiritual experience and presented it in a form that would guide others. It is a design for a process of prayer, meditation, and discernment that would “allow the Creator to deal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with the Creator.” (Exercitia, Annotation 15, here p. 33). In the 1530s Ignatius studied philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, where he guided six of his fellow-students in the Exercises who, as a result, formed with him the nucleus of what in 1540 became the Society of Jesus. The book circulated in manuscript among members of the Society until it was finally published in Rome by Antonio Blado in 1548. That edition is now unfindable and all early editions are rare.  One of the most innovative and distinctive aspects of the Exercises was that individuals did not undertake them on their own but with the help of another, who acted as guide. “The ‘Exercises’ (…) form a unique book, inspired by a remarkable fixity of purpose and designed for a clearly defined and practical end: the moulding of character by the precepts of the Gospel. Its asceticism is not one of resignation or withdrawal, but full of a positive recognition of an active life. It is this characteristic in particular which made the book such a powerful influence when it became the handbook of the Society of Jesus (…). As a work of religious inspiration the impact has been almost as great outside the Society of Jesus as within” (PMM).

This copy bears a contemporary ex libris of the Jesuit collegium of Liége (Belgium). Also known as Collège en Isle and Collège des jésuites wallons, it was founded in 1582 and was very successful, with over a thousand students every year from 160 until the departure of the Jesuits in 1773. About the beginning of the 20th century, the book entered the Library of the Jesuit seminary ‘Maison Saint-Augustin’ in Enghien (not far from Liége), founded in 1887 by the French Jesuits in exile on the site of the former Monastery of St. Augustin.


Palau 291091; PMM 74 (1st ed.). This edition not in USTC, Adams, BM STC Fr. C16, Brunet or Graesse. Worldcat records only two copies in the US (Boston College, Saint Louis University).
Stock Number: L3974 Categories: ,

Out of stock