Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Primary Sources

These primary source texts and images were collected and annotated by Johnathan Pettinato. Clicking on the links will take you to the scanned documents and annotations. The materials reproduced here are from public domain and copy-permitted texts. The project is sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute at Fordham University. ©This text is copyrighted. Permission is granted for personal and educational use. Please credit as Pettinato, Johnathan, Sources on Colonial Latin America.

The Spiritual Conquest: Accomplished by the Religious of the Society of Jesus in the Provinces of Paraguay, Paraná, Uruguay, and Tape Written by Father Antonio Ruiz de Montoya of the Same Society (1639).  A Personal Account of the Founding and Early Years of the Jesuit Paraguay Reductions.

An introduction to Father Ruiz de Montoya (1585-1652) and the Paraguay missions by C. J. McNaspy, S.J.
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Excerpts from Father Ruiz de Montoya’s descriptions of Guaraní customs and religious practices.
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Used with permission: © The Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis, MO.  All rights reserved. To purchase this book see: Jesuit Sources; Amazon; Abebooks; or Barnes and Noble.

The History of Paraguay… a full and authentic account of the establishments formed there by the Jesuits, from among the savage natives … establishments allowed to have realized the sublime ideas of Fenelon, Sir Thomas Moore and Plata

by Jesuit Father Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix (1769).

Volume I, Book IV - The Jesuits arrive in Paraguay

Volume I, Book V - A description of the Guaraní reductions

Volume II, Book IX - Conversion of Chiquito people

Volume II, Book XIII - The Jesuits defend reductions from Portuguese encroachments (1734-1740s)

Volume II, Book XIV - Accusations against the Jesuits and ominous changes from Spain (1740s-1750s)

A Relation of the Missions of Paraguay.  Wrote Originally in Italian, by Mr. Muratori, And now done into English from the French Translation. London:  J. Marmaduke, 1759.

Three letters by Italian Jesuit Father Cajetan Cattaneo (1695/6-1733) to his brother describing missionary work in the New World.
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The Jesuit Republic of Paraguay: A Historical Study
by C. J. McNaspy, SJ, a digitized film
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French Jesuit Charles Le Gobien (1653-1708) published a work in Paris in 1702 entitled Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, écrites des missions étrangères.  Le Gobien translated into French, where necessary, selected writings from Jesuit missionaries from around the globe.  Lettres édifiantes expanded by 1776 to thirty-six volumes and would be republished in various editions even in the nineteenth century.  Selections of Le Gobien’s works were translated into English in the early eighteenth century.  The letters and map listed below come from several English editions of the original French work.  All of these works are held in Special Collections at the William D. Walsh Family Library at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University.

“An Extract of a Spanish Relation Printed at Lima in Peru … giving an Account of … the Mission of the Moxos, a People of Peru (1714)”
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“Father Stanislaus Arlet, to the General of the Society, concerning a new mission in Peru (1698)”
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“State of the Missions newly settled by the Jesuits in California; presented in the royal Council at Guadalaxara in Mexico, the 10th of Feb. 1702”
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“A Descent made by the Spaniards, in the Island of California in 1683”
An account of missions founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in New Spain.
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“Passage by land to California Discovered by Father Eusebius Francis Kino a Jesuit; between the years 1698 & 1701: containing likewise the New Missions of the Jesuits” Map.
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Jesuit letters from Peru (1705)
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A description of Bourbon Spain’s possessions in the New World (1762)
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Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J., former Director of the Woodstock Theological Center Library at Georgetown University, has edited a collection of fifty letters written by St. Ignatius to other Jesuits.  These letters, each with an introduction, provide a revealing insight into Jesuit spirituality.
Selected Letters and Intructions of St. Ignatius Loyola

The Woodstock Letters
The Woodstock Letters, published from 1872-1969, contain writings dealing with Jesuit educational and missionary activities around the world.  The Society of Jesus produced these publications using their own printing presses located at the now-defunct Woodstock College, a Jesuit seminary in Woodstock, Maryland that operated from 1869-1974.  The Woodstock Letters were intended for circulation among Jesuits only, and they cover an exceptionally wide variety of subject matter.  Below are links to entries in The Woodstock Letters pertaining to Jesuit activities in Central and South America as well as the American West and Southwest, from the colonial period into the early 20th century. These selected entries are a mix of primary and secondary sources.

North America
Miscellaneous North America, 1570, 1884
Letters from Texas and New Mexico, 1873-1884
Letters from Mexico, 1687-1915
Letters from the California and Rocky Mountain missions, 1874-1908

Central America
Miscellaneous, 1885- 1911
Letters from British Honduras, 1895-1915
Letters from Panama, 1909-1910

South America

Letters from Colombia, 1901-1927
Letters from Brazil, 1848-1890
Letters from Chili, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, 1765-1895
Letters from Ecuador, 1891-1897


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