History

The Jesuits in Britain Archives is full of letters – personal correspondence, circulars, letters to and from Fr Provincial and Fr General, annual letters in Latin, postcards and Christmas cards. There are letters from Guyana, South Africa, Jamaica, India, Maryland, Rome, from all parts of Britain and, it seems, from all corners of the world. Such a volume of correspondence is perhaps unsurprising for letters are the staple component of many archives. However, the extent of the correspondence...
This year, September 28 will mark the second year of UNESCO’s International Day for the Universal Access to Information (or Access to Information Day). With this in mind, we take a moment to reflect on the work of the Jesuits in Britain Archives, and how we play a small part in Access to Information Day every day, by making our records available.Arguably, there is no point in having an archive – employing the staff to manage it and putting in the financial resources to ensure the material is...
September is the start of the new academic year as children all over the country head back to school. The Society of Jesus is recognised throughout the world for its work in establishing and running schools, colleges and universities. This blog post gives a brief overview of some of the collections of school records held here at the Jesuits in Britain Archives and, in particular, the records of Mount St Mary’s College, which is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its establishment this...
‘It was as lonely an outpost of religion as you could find anywhere.’ So wrote Evelyn Waugh of the Jesuit mission station of St Ignatius in the central Rupununi region of south-west Guyana.In the winter of 1932-1933 Waugh had travelled to the interior of British Guiana (as it was then known) and Brazil. Waugh ostensibly had the travelling bug – in the foreword to Ninety-Two Days, the travelogue Waugh published in 1934 giving an account of this trip, he admits to ‘a fascination in distant and...
Assumption of the Virgin Mary by Rubens Credit Wikimedia
‘DOGMA’ has become a ‘boo-word’. Rather than its original Christian definition ‘a tenet of Christian faith’ or ‘the authoritative teaching of the Church’ the Oxford dictionary now includes the meaning ‘an arrogant declaration of opinion.’ The negative definition may have evolved through widespread criticisms of the way the Catholic Church has historically enforced its teachings, especially via the CDF (the Congregation of the Faith), formerly called the Holy Office. This Congregation has until...
Titus Oates - An exact discovery
An interesting article in The Independent on 7 August 2017 put ‘fake news’ into a deeper historical context.Its author, Linda Kiernan, a lecturer in French history at Trinity College Dublin, focused on the febrile climate of 17th Century Europe. At a time when civil wars and unrest beset Western Europe, in Britain the widely believed ‘fake news’ (known as the Popish Plot) was that the Jesuits were planning to do away with Charles II in favour of his Catholic younger brother, James. With...
It’s the middle of summer.  Children are enjoying their six weeks off school, and many of us take a week or a fortnight’s vacation by the sea or in the countryside.  The Jesuits also enjoy short breaks from their work and the Jesuits in Britain Archive holds material recording holidays taken by Jesuits over the last 160 years. Jesuit students, known as Scholastics, used to take a two week holiday in Barmouth, in Wales.  This tradition started in 1853 when Father James...
St Ignatius’ Day is the 31 July, and historically Jesuit Communities have marked the day with Masses, processions and feasts.  In the archives we have records of these events from the 19th and 20th centuries, showing how Jesuits celebrated St Ignatius’ Day, and how these celebrations changed over the course of the years.The Mount Street Jesuit Community recorded its daily services, meals, and comings and goings of individual Jesuits, as well as larger feasts and other events, in The...
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the elder
For Catholics in general, and for Jesuits in particular, Martin Luther used to be seen as simply an enemy, a benighted schismatic. Juan de Polanco, Ignatius’ secretary, saw Ignatius’ conversion at Loyola in 1521 as God’s ‘antidote’, countering the poison of what Martin Luther’s 1517 declaration of war ‘on the apostolic Holy See and the Catholic religion’.However, centenaries have a way of provoking reassessments. Jubilee celebrations commemorate the past, but they also make us think about what...
One of the Archives’ most frequently asked about collections unsurprisingly belongs to one of the most high-profile English Jesuits of recent times, Fr Martin D’Arcy SJ. Due to the standard closure period of 40 years after the death of a Jesuit for their personal papers, Fr D’Arcy’s papers have finally been fully catalogued and made available to the public.Martin Cyril D'Arcy was born in Bath on 15 June 1888, the fourth and youngest son of a barrister, Martin Valentine D'Arcy and Madoline Mary...

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