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La longue gestation des Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu

Book Title:
La Compagnie de Jésus des Anciens Régimes au monde contemporain (XVIII-XX siècles)
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Book Chapter
Ecole Française de Rome
Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu
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The chapter discusses the origins of the series Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, begun in Madrid in 1894, and continued in Rome, with the publication of 166 volumes in the series to date. The first part of the essay provides an overview of the relevant literature and archival sources, especially some articles written by the Jesuits who were involved in the Monumenta, and documentary material preserved in the Jesuit Roman Archives (especially that pertaining to the Jesuit Historical Institute). The second part of the chapter discusses the remote origins of the Monumentawhich are to be found in the eighteenth-century, when the Jesuits of Spain unsuccessfully sought the Spanish king's support for their historiographical plan. It outlines how, in the nineteenth century, the historiographical enterprise was taken up further by Jesuits focusing especially on the editing of original sources, especially the letters of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The result of these efforts was a new edition of Ignatius’s letters in six volumes, published in 1874–89 in Madrid; the second edition of these letters marked the origins of the Monumenta. The third part of the chapter deals with the Monumenta by summarizing the work of Cecilio Gómez Rodeles SJ and his confreres — the first editors of the new series— and demonstrates how the series complemented the broader ecclesiastic-historiographical context, with Pope Leo XIII’s opening of the Vatican Archives, and the Jesuit leadership's own promotion of studies in the Society’s history.

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