Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Some how or another, it has turned out that S. Igantius’ Spiritual Exercises has played a cornerstone in my intellectual /Spiritual development. In a way It is the first ‘mystical’ text I read (or for that matter had easy access to).

Alas The S.E. sent me down many resplendent and divergent paths: Henry Suso, John Of Climax, Ricard Roll, John of The Cross, Miester Eckhard, Tauler.

After my first time thorough the Spiritual Exercises I read Hesse’s Siddartha. As a self proclaimed ‘Mystic Mulcher’

I ended up picking and choosing what seemed to fit with a naïf, but informed western form ready to be filled in. In college I studied non Literate forms of mysticism which Landed in a place where  Mircea Eliade     and Agehananda Bharati Directed me to find all I could about native american ‘Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy’. In a fortuitous ‘eternal return’ I was reading Jesuit ‘contact ethnographies’, of east cost spiritual practices.  Enter another theme, communication/translation and visual communication.   It seemed to me  at the time (and still does), that the function of ritual and process, is a cultural specific and in a sense aleatory path toward a shared experience of being of and within a group.  The Society of Jesus, embraced this in their north and south American missions (as well as their missions in Asia).  The material survival of these missions are enormous in both physical and cultural impact. I would like to think of a French Seventeenth century Jesuit in what is now Quebec with this copy of Les exercices spirituels  under his ‘Black Robe’  The images in this French edition depict a type of quest that the Iroquois would have access to. The “conquest of the souls” was an integral part of the constitution of Nouvelle-France.  In 1656 Sainte-Marie-de-Ganentaa (or St. Mary’s of Ganantaa) was the first of these  missions to be established, located among the Onondagas under Father Simon Le Moyne  (1604-1665).

On August 5, 1654, Father LeMoyne arrived in the Onondaga village with the French Jesuits. During his short stay, LeMoyne drank from a spring which the Onondagas believed to be tainted due to an evil spirit. Unlike the Onondagas who considered the salt springs evil, the French instead, saw them as a money-making enterprise.
Father Le Moyne noted in his diary that “We tested the water of a spring, which the Indians are afraid to drink, saying that it is inhabited by a demon, who makes it foul. I found the fountain of salt water, from which we evaporated a little salt as natural as that from the sea, some of which we shall carry to Quebec.”

Within thirteen years, the Jesuits had missions among all five Iroquois nations, in part imposed by French attacks against their villages in present-day New York state {I attended Syracuse University a hot bed of Onodagas}. As relations between the French Jesuits  and The Iroquois became closer the culture contact stresses took their bloody toll  the missions were all abandoned by 1708. The Iroquois of central New York did not respond to the Jesuits as their northern neighbors In order to train young Indians to the Catholic faith, a Seminary is opened near Quebec, at Notre-Dame-des-Anges in 1636. The first students were five young Hurons, who were followed by a dozen of young Montagnais and Algonquins in 1638-1639.  This was quite similar to the “Puritan experiment” at Harvard, but the results were quite different …maybe…

The Jesuits in America used methods which were comparatively respectful of the traditional way of life of the Indians, especially compared to the approach of the Puritans in New England. They required a conformity to their code of dress and behaviour.

     ” English civilization scorned and neglected him; French civilization embraced and cherished him.”

                  [Francis Parkman]
Jesuit missionaries learned Indian languages, and accepted Indian ways, to the point of conforming to them, especially when living among them. According to Jérôme Lalemant, a missionary must first have “penetrated their thoughts… adapted himself to their manner of living and, when necessary, been a Barbarian with them.”  To gain the Indians’ confidence, the Jesuits drew parallels between Catholicism and Indian practices, making connections to the mystical dimension and symbolism of Catholicism (pictures, bells, incense, candlelight), giving out religious medals as amulets, and promoting the benefits of the cult of relics!


Images from 350G
Les exercices spirituels de S. Ignace de Loyola … Traduits du latin en françois, par un Père de la mesme Compagnie. 1673 First Edition in French.

So the Relics, the Images, the Translation, all come together in this book.

DSC_0033350G Loyola, Ignatius. 1491-1556

Les exercices spirituels de S. Ignace de Loyola   Traduits du latin en françois, par un Père de la mesme Compagnie.

Anvers : M. Cnobbaert, 1673                  $4,700

Octavo, . First edition of this translation (second in french)

A-R8 S2 54 full-page plates

This copy is bound in contemporary full sheep, with some scratches. There is no cracking at the hinges. It is a very large copy with very good margins and is clean and crisp. A very nice copy. Translated by Antoine Vatier (S J Le P ) ; or P. Jennesseaux S.J. There is a portrait of Loyola by M. Cnobbaert see above.  This is an Illustrated edition of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, “the most famous modern textbook on ascetic discipline, the nature of sin, and Christian perfection by grace” (PMM) Illustrated with fifty four full page engravings, all in very strong and deep impressions. bound after the printed book is 24 pages of notes in a french seventh century hand! Probably notes by Sister Marie Philipine ( see the images below)

The Port. of St. Ignatius on leaf A1, t.p. on leaf A2. Port. of St. Ignatius by Michel Cnobbaert; cf. Backer-Sommervogel.  The translator is Antoine Vatier; cf. Backer-Sommervogel t. 5, col. 69 and Backer-Sommervogel t. 8, col. 490. The “Privilege du Roy” is dated 18 October, 1672, although the work was issued in 1673. Backer-Sommervogel, t. 5, col. 69.