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The Catholic Historical Review 87.4 (2001) 740-741



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Book Review

Alle origini dell'Università dell'Aquila. Cultura, università, collegi gesuitici all'inizio dell'età moderna in Italia meridionale. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi promosso dalla Compagnia di Gesù e dall'Università dell'Aquila nel IV centenario dell'istituzione dell'Aquilanum Collegium (1596).


Alle origini dell'Università dell'Aquila. Cultura, università, collegi gesuitici all'inizio dell'età moderna in Italia meridionale. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi promosso dalla Compagnia di Gesù e dall'Università dell'Aquila nel IV centenario dell'istituzione dell'Aquilanum Collegium (1596). (L'Aquila, 8-11 novembre 1995). Edited by Filippo Iapelli, S.J., and Ulderico Parente. [Bibliotheca Instituti Historici S.I., Vol. LII.] (Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu. 2000. Pp. 824. Paperback.)

Soon after Ignatius of Loyola established the College of Messina, the Society of Jesus began to expand its educational apostolate across Europe at a remarkable rate. This growth was also apparent throughout southern Italy, which is the focus of the volume under consideration. Originating from a conference held in 1995 commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Collegium Aquilanum, thirty-two papers are published in this volume that reflect four basic themes: the diffusion of Jesuit colleges throughout the kingdom of Naples in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the presence of the Jesuits in Abruzzo, the educational philosophy or paideia of the Jesuits in southern Italy, and the artistic and architectural expertise of many within the Society of Jesus focusing on the work of the architect and painter Giuseppe Valeriano, a native of Aquila. These essays demonstrate that the colleges reflected the basic features characteristic of Italian cities during the early modern era. Perhaps more importantly, the essays seek to examine the role that Jesuit colleges assumed in the formation of a Western cultural identity.

The volume opens with a brief essay by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, on the origins of the University of Aquila. Father Kolvenbach highlights the fact that many of the universities and secondary schools of southern Italy originated from the colleges established by the Society of Jesus. For Kolvenbach, southern Italy represents not only the place of origin for the Society's pastoral work, but also the place where the Jesuits developed their approach to education that enabled them to become a presence within Europe's cultural life (p. 15).

Following this introductory piece, a series of essays focuses on the Jesuit colleges within the political and cultural context of the Kingdom of Naples. Of special interest are the essays by Cosimo Damiano Fonseca and Bruno Pellegrino. [End Page 740] Fonseca examines the relationship between the college and the city within the overall plan of the Society's educational work, arguing that the Jesuits deliberately chose urban centers for their schools so as to safeguard the fundamental values of a Christian society (p. 105). Pellegrino's essay also focuses on the strategy of the Society of Jesus, emphasizing the impact of the colleges in the Kingdom of Naples on the surrounding rural areas. The author contends that the colleges were part of a strategy of religious acculturation, if not Christianization, among those individuals who inhabited the rural regions of southern Italy (p. 116).

The second section of this volume focuses on the paideia of the Society of Jesus, highlighting the richness of Jesuit education. The contribution of Manuel Ruiz Jurado is especially important since it gets to the heart of Jesuit education--the spiritual formation of students. Jurado contends that all of the other features of Jesuit education are meaningless without the spiritual element, which is the principal reason for their existence. An interesting essay is presented by Ferdinando Taviani, examining the place of theater in the Jesuit college. Taviani challenges the widely held theory that Jesuit theater is an expression of the Spiritual Exercises. In a related essay on music, Giancarlo Rostirolla challenges the widely held opinion that the Jesuits showed little interest in music...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 740-741
Launched on MUSE
2001-10-01
Open Access
No
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