1- Some questions

Voynich asserts that he bought MS 408, with other manuscripts, from Jesuits of the villa Mondragone in Frascati, near Rome, in 1912, with the help of a Father Strickland, S.I.

Some letters from the College Mondragone to Voynich are preserved in his correspondence , in Beinecke Library of Yale University (1). There is also an independent proof of Father Giuseppe Strickland's existence (see here). But nothing more seems known about this acquisition.

In other respects, we know from Ruysschaert (2) that Voynich's manuscripts were part of a larger fund, belonging to the Collegio Romano, the main part of which was purchased by Pie X in 1912 and given to the Vatican Library (Codices Vaticani Latini 11414-11709) (see here). On many of these manuscripts, we find the property mark of Father Petrus Beckx, 22nd general of the Society of Jesus.

The generally accepted assumption is that this fund has been transferred from the Collegio Romano to the villa Mondragone during the period following the Risorgimento (unification of Italy in 1870, then secularization). But till now there is no evidence or details on such a transfer to the villa.

The question is how, when and which manuscripts from the Collegio Romano were transferred to the Villa Mondragone.

2- Collegio Romano, Casa Professa, villa Mondragone and their libraries

The Collegio Romano is founded by Ignazio di Loyola in 1551. First, it is a small school in today's d'Aracoeli Street, near the Pantheon, in Rome. The college is then relocated in different buildings, till Pope Gregory XIII's financial support helps erect the large edifice in his actual location, in 1582-1584.

The "Bibliotheca Major" or "Bibliotheca Secreta" is the main library of the Collegio Romano. "Bibliotheca Major" is the usual term for the most important library of a Jesuit college. "Bibliotheca Secreta" seems to be the authentic term for the Collegio Romano Library. Secreta means "separate" and not "secret", to make a distinction with the common or community library, the private library of the Jesuit community of the Collegio (probably spiritual and reference books): the Bibliotheca Secreta was public (3).

The "Casa Professa" is usually a Jesuit convent sheltering members having made profession of faith and thereby enabled to perform essential missions. The Casa Professa of Rome (or Casa del Gesù, or Gesù Residence) is built in 1599-1623; it is located to the right of the Chiesa del Gesù ("The Gesù") (4), some streets from the Collegio Romano. The Casa, encasing the rooms where St Ignatius lived and died, in 1544-1556, is connected to the Gesù. This residence served as the " Curia Generalis " or international headquarters of the Society of Jesus, until the Society was suppressed in 1773, and then from the restoration in 1814 until the Risorgimento of 1873. It had rooms for General of the Society, assistants, professors…

The Casa Professa had his own library. ARSI (Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu), the official central archives of the Society of Jesus worldwide, were preserved in the Casa Professa.

Otherwise, every brother and father linked to the Collegio Romano or the Curia Generalis, including the General of the Society, might have his private library.

There is no link between the Collegio Romano and the villa Mondragone, except that they were both Jesuits colleges at some period of time.

The villa Mondragone is built in 1573-1577 by Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps (5), nephew of Pope Pius IV. At first Cardinal Altemps enlarges the existing villa Tusculana in Frascati (6), near Rome; the work is completed in 1571. One of his guests is Cardinal Ugo Boncompagni, who, a few months later, becomes Pope Gregorius XIII. He suggests building a new villa on the hill overlooking the villa Tusculana, on the Roman ruins of Quintili's villa. The villa is called Mondragone referring to the coat of arms of the family Boncompagni (a dragon). The villa receives the Pope and his court for a long time. In 1613, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, buys the villa Mondragone and the villa Tusculana, together with other properties, from the nephew of cardinal Marco Sittico, the duke Gian Angelo Altemps. In 1621, year of Paul V's death, the decline of the villa Mondragone begins.

In 1865, Don Marcantonio Borghese (1814-1886), owner of the villa Mondragone, signs an agreement with the Jesuits in order to use the villa as a college for the Italian nobility (7). The " Nobile Collegio Mondragone " opens its doors on February 2, 1865. The Jesuits buys the villa Mondragone in 1896 (8). The villa is then transferred in 1933 to the roman province of the Jesuit order. The Collegio Mondragone stops his activities in 1953. In 1981, the villa Mondragone is sold by the Jesuits to the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

The Nobile Collegio Mondragone had very likely its own library.

3- When and how the manuscripts were transferred ?

The generally accepted assumption which sustains Voynich's assertion is that many manuscripts belonging to the Collegio Romano were removed to the Collegio Mondragone in 1870 or after, following the unification of Italy and the secularization.

Indeed, if manuscripts have been transferred from the Collegio Romano to the villa Mondragone, it was after the year 1865, when the villa begins to be used as a Jesuit college.

After 1865, the first period that justify such a removal is the unification of Italy. Five years after the opening of the Nobile Collegio Mondragone, on September 20, 1870, Victor Emmanuel's armies enter into Rome by Porta Pia, following the withdrawal of French troops, after Napoleon's defeat at Sedan. It's the end of the Pontifical States and the unification of Italy, with Rome as capital. In December 1870, the Collegio Romano is transformed in the Ennio Quirino Visconti State College. Later, the Italian government confiscates the Jesuit Society's colleges, museums, libraries, houses and observatories, especially the Collegio Romano, its library, the Casa Professa and the Kircher's Museum.

The manuscripts and books of Bibliotheca Major, added to the collections confiscated from sixty other religious institutions, compose the first fund (over 360,000 volumes) of the Central National Library "Vittorio Emanuele", which is inaugurated on March 14, 1876 in the premises of the Collegio Romano.

I have found four corroborations about the removal of many manuscripts from the Collegio Romano during this period, about the circumstances of the transfer and about the role of Petrus Beckx himself :

In a comment on Ruysschaert's Codices Vaticani Latini, by Giuseppe Billanovich (1962) (9) : " These 300 manuscripts constitute a fund: they represent the central and more important group of the Library of Jesuit Collegio Romano; the group which slowly emerged in the Bibliotheca Vaticana, under Pie X (1903-1914), after the storm which fell over the ecclesiastic libraries when the Italian soldiers entered in papal Rome through the breach in Porta Pia (1870)".

In " Les manuscrits classiques latins de la Bibliothèque Vaticane ", by Elisabeth Pellegrin (1975) who collaborated with José Ruysschaert (10): " A part of the Collegio Romano library, which Father Beckx succeeded to withdraw from the secularization confiscation, has been purchased and given in 1912 to the Vatican Library by Pope Pie X".

In his Codices Vaticani Latini 11414-11709 (1959), Ruysschaert never quotes the Collegio Mondragone or even any removal from the Collegio Romano. But a section of the preface contents the following hint: " Moreover the manuscripts which have been carried away from the Collegio Romano in the last years of XIXth century are identified by another label in the upper part of the first folio, on which we can read these printed words: from the private library of P. Beckx, who was then general prefect of the Society of Jesus. Some of these small notes are missing, the folio having been lost; other are erased or torn, but some marks remain very often" (11).

The fourth and most instructive corroboration is a testimony from a direct witness of the seize of the Gesù and the Casa Professa, in October 1873. Father Paolo Pierling (1840-1922), a Russian Jesuit, was the secretary of the Assistant for Germany in the Curia Generalis. Some days after October 20, 1873, he sent a letter to his superior on the capture of the Gesù (see the original French text in appendix, as quoted in Giacomo Martina, La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870, in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), pp. 194-329; atti del quarto Convegno di storia della Chiesa. La Mendola, 31 agosto-5 settembre 1971. Milan, 1973)" (12).

Here are the most significant extracts of this letter, with some comments.

" Exposed to the suppression since September 20 and especially since the approval of the law (13), which don't give to the government the power to let to the General of the Company the house he occupies, the Casa Professa has been preserved during such a long time only because of General's efforts, who put forth all his energy to deflect or at least delay the fatal issue. It was as late as October, 18 that Father vice-superintendent of the Gesù received the official communication which announced the transfer of ownership for the 20th of the current month ".

Comment: According to the letter, the main argument, used in papers sent to many diplomats was that the Casa Professa, an international house, founded by strangers for the Company in his whole, has to be included in Pope's reserves (see La Civilta cattolica, 1873, vol.9, p. 494-497, Cronaca contemporanea). It was a juridical position and we will see later that Jesuits had better to play a kind of cooperation, which allowed them to take advantage of all possibilities given by the law. The Jesuits were clearly aware of the confiscation danger, and they took some precautions, but the two days' delay prevents them to transfer their properties before the capture.

" As soon as the distribution was over (14), Father vice-superintendent announced he was compelled, in all conscience, to protest again the transfer of ownership of the house…P. Armellini red the following protest, a copy of which was given to the notary to be registered:

" The Superior of the Gesù declares that he only gives up to the force in serving the act by which this house is seized and that he also maintains without the least prejudice all the rights of the Jesus' Company on this very house.
As far as the library located in this house of Gesù is concerned, he declares that it is not the property of the religious family who lives in the house, because a part of it is the property of the General of the Jesus' Company by Cardinal Valenti Gonzaga's will
(15), as mentioned in the inventory of the house of Gesù, and because the other part is constituted by books sent to the General himself by the writers of the Company, as it is the practice ".
October 20, 1873, Marco Rossi Supr.

In order to know exactly what was the point, we thought it would be better to ask for some explanations on the way the seize had to be done. The notary answered that each religious was allowed to keep all his personal properties, but that the community properties were transferred to the state. For lack of instructions, he was unable to resolve the doubt brought up by P. Rubillon about assistants libraries, but, three days later, the positive answer came back and each Assistant was authorized to take away his own books ".

Comment: First of all, the importance of the library has to be underlined: it is the main subject taken up in the official protest. Moreover we understand that the Jesuits saved what could be saved by transferring books and manuscripts from the main library of the Casa professa (and very probably from the Bibliotheca Secreta), under the personal property of Father Beckx (and perhaps also of the Assistants, fathers and brothers living in the Casa). This is not inconsistent with the two arguments on the origin of Beckx' library: they are probably true, even if they are to be checked. Giacomo Martina specifies later (16): " in Italy (17), they chose the lesser of two evils and preferred to cooperate with civil authorities in order to save what could be saved, by discerning in each case what must be left under the law and what may be carried away (a long argument took place about the private library of the General of the Society of Jesus, which Father Beckx, General, succeeded in recover as his private property, thanks to the help of some civil servants and in spite of some ingenuous words from some Jesuit) ". A subtle difference is made between the private library of the General, which might be property of the community, and the private library of Father Beckx. The argument on the Assistants libraries was probably the same.

" We walked immediately towards the great library. The absence of catalogue caused a surprise, which ended when genuine acts proved that the catalogue never existed. Copy of theses acts was taken and the Piemontese seals closed the doors above which we can see St-Ignacius at Manrèse, with the caption: Liber exercitiorum S.P.I. bibliothecas Societatis aperuit. Duchess of Sax's library, which must be transferred by will to the Emperor of Austria, was sealed by a secretary of the Austrian legation, some days later".

Comment: The personal properties of Beckx and other residents of the Casa were in their own rooms or elsewhere, the library being sealed on October 20, 1873. The absence of catalogue allowed to easily withdraw the books from the confiscation. It would be interesting to read these " genuine acts " which proved the absence of catalogue. We feel that delegates were not too curious and seemed even cooperative.

" While delegates carried out their sad work, ours were busy packing and carrying away all goods which could be subtracted to the Junta's rapacity. A fifteen days delay beginning on October 20 was given to that effect ".

Comment: Beckx's private library stayed inside the Casa on October 20, 1873. The books and manuscrits "owned " by occupants, including Beckx, left Rome very probably on November 4, 1873 at the latest.

" P. General determined to set an example of renunciation by leaving first. On October 27 he summoned all Fathers of Gesù to take leave…During the afternoon, P. General went once again to the church…Two hours later a little car took him to the Belgian College, on the Quirinal (18)…The visit to the Belgian College was short. It had been decided that the government of the Company, now impossible in Rome, required a new deployment. The present uncertainty did not allow to decide definitively and Florence was chosen as a first step. On October 30, P. General left from Rome…".

Comment: very probably, P. Beckx did not left the Casa before being secured about his manuscripts. We may assume that his "private library" left Rome between October 21 and October 26 (because of the use of a "little car", October 27 is less likely).

Giacomo Martina adds: " In Fiesole, P. Beckx lived in san Girolamo, a property acquired last year from family Ricasoli, to whom it belong, in case of a contingency "(19).

Comment: P. Beckx establishes the General Curia in Fiesole and stays here till his abdication (20). It is known that the "modern section" of the ARSI (Archive of the Restored Society from 1814 to 1873), moves also to Fiesole. It is also said that the early section, from 1540 to 1773, year of the Suppression of the Society, or a part of it, has been transferred to the German College in Rome (Palazzio Borromeo), then to Exaten, Holland, by the General Luis Martin, after 1892.

4- Which manuscripts were transferred?

So the chosen way to prevent Casa Professa manuscripts from the 1873 confiscation was to identify them as belonging privately to P. Beckx. As mentioned earlier, a label glued on the books marks this property.

The mark has been found in many places, and first of all, on many of the 297 manuscripts (21) purchased by Pie X to Collegio Romano in 1912 and given to the Vatican Library, as listed by Ruysschaert. A compilation of Ruysschaert's information on each one of these manuscripts proves that Beckx's property tag is glued on 259 of them (87 % of the stock). In the other, the absence of tag seems aleatory. Very probably they have been lost on these 38 manuscripts, possibility mentioned by Ruysschaert. So we may reasonably think that all the manuscripts purchased by Pie X were previously preserved in the Collegio Romano or the Casa Professa.

The Collegio Romano was seized three years before the Casa Professa, in December 1870, following the seize of Rome, on September 20. The most logical and most simple way to understand the content of the fund purchased by Pie X is to assume that some manuscripts preserved in the Bibliotheca Major were transferred to the Casa Professa before December 1870, probably between September and December.

Same notes are also found on some of the 29 manuscripts which left the Collegio to Americas and Great Britain in 1912 or after (22). As far as MS408 is concerned, the Pontificia Universita Gregoriana preserves the bulk of the Kircher's correspondence (a total of 2291 letters and miscellaneous papers), which contains some Beckx's manuscripts : "The letters, testimonials and reports are bound, irrespective of chronology, authorship or subject-matter, in fourteen chubby, folio volumes (Mss. 555-68), a careful attempt at preservation which was approvingly noted as early as 1678 (23) . One of the present volumes (Ms. 557) bears the device "ex bibl. privata P. Petri Beck" but of this nineteenth-century appropriation (Father Beck died in 1887) we know little". (24)

By the way, only one of the manuscripts purchased by Pie X comes from the Kircherianum Musaeum : codex Vaticani Latini 11698 is a fund, property of Hieronymus Lagomarsinus, which contains an epigraphs collection of the Museum (25).

5- A transfer to the villa Mondragone?

Till now, we have no formal confirmation that the disposal destination was the Collegio Mondragone.

Which reasons could justified a removal to this college?

The Collegio was only one of many Jesuits houses in Italy (26). But it was probably the best place to preserve manuscripts against new Italian government and risks of confiscation.

As previously said, villa Mondragone was a property of one of the greatest nobilian family in Italy, the Borghese. Prince Marcantonio Borghese rent his villa to the Jesuits in 1865. A confiscation of such a property is not an easy task.

Otherwise, the personality of the Rector of Nobile Collegio Mondragone during the secularization, Reverend Father Alessandro Giuseppe Ponza di San Martino, has to be taken into account. As Provincial of the Society of Jesus, Ponza di San Martino helps Don Marcantonio Borghese in 1864 to open the Nobile Collegio Mondragone (27). He was Rector of the college between 1870 and 1878 (lien). His brother was the Senator Count Gustavo Ponza di San Marino. The Count is famous in the history of Italy as the ambassador who delivers King Vittorio Emanuele's letter to the Pope Pie IX, on September 10, 1870. In this letter, the King asks the Pope to welcome his troops without fighting and to leave his temporal power ("Con affetto di figlio, con fede di cattolico, con lealtà di re, con animo d'Italiano…").

From these information, we understand the possible preference towards the Collegio Mondragone: is there a better place to protect manuscripts from new government's extortion than the College of the Italian nobility, property of prince Borghese, moreover the Rector's brother of which is from Piemontese nobility and one of the King's confidential man?

Actually, the Collegio stayed as a Jesuit house without interruption between 1865 and 1981. It was never confiscated and the feeling during the years '70 was that the college was the least threatened amongst Jesuits houses, as suggested in a letter from P. Ragazzini to P. Beckx, on November 16, 1873 (28): " Ours from Giulano, Tivoli, Galloro live in a painful waiting of their near fate, but till now only Bauco (Boville Ernica (29)) is dismissed. Even Padre Ponza begins to be anxious about Mondragone ". (30)

Reasons of this implicit protection are confirmed by Giacomo Martina, in La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870, p. 268 (31): " The Collegio Mondragone, founded in 1865 in the villa rented to the Jesuits by prince Borghese, has been left in peace (it is not out of the question that government looks with some fear and respect upon the property of a roman noble, moreover left to a Piemontese noble, padre Alessandro Ponza di San Martino, brother of count Ponza, holder of Vittorio Emanuele II's letter to Pio IX during the capture of Rome) ".

P. Beckx, as General of the Society, had a hierarchical link with the provinces, and particularly with the Province of Rome, to which Collegio Romano was specifically connected. He had the power to enforce the destination, in a society managed on a hierarchical system. But it was probably pointless, because of the proximity between Beckx, the Ponza and the college. Curiously, a testimony of these hard days for the Catholic Church shows this close relationship, in a critical period and in the context of a critical mission. This testimony is by Pietro Ragazzini S.I. (1827-1877), Rector of the Collegio Romano from 1867 to 1872, and then Provincial of the Province of Rome till 1875. Ragazzini relates (ibid. p.341) (32): " During the same period, the Count Ponza di S. Marino arrives in Rome, carrier of a letter from the King to the Pope and of the announcement of the next occupation of Rome. He also meets our father General (Note: P. Beckx), begging him to send to Rome the C. Ponza, his brother and Rector of the convent of Mondragone, in order to talk to him before coming back: and, during this conversation, he says that all religious orders, including Jesuits, will have the liberty to stay in Rome ".

6- Conclusion

After the unification of 1870 and especially after the approval of the law of 19 June, 1873, Petrus Beckx, 22nd general of the Society of Jesus, succeeded in avoiding the confiscation of many manuscripts and removing them from Rome. Many of them hade been previously transferred from the Bibliotheca Major to the Casa Professa. Other were probably soon preserved in the Casa Professa Library.

The fund was constituted by the 297 manuscripts afterwards purchased and given in 1912 by Pie X to the Vatican Library (Codices Vaticani Latini 11414-11709), to which we have to add 29 manuscripts today in Americas or Great Britain (the most part of them being bought by W. M. Voynich in 1912) and 6 other manuscripts, as catalogued by Ruysschaert.

Some of these manuscripts have perhaps belonged personally to P. Beckx, but the label " from the private library of P. Beckx " today glued on about 90% of them was mainly the way chosen by Jesuits to prevent confiscation (which concerned the community and not the private properties, a tenuous difference which was nevertheless accepted).

The manuscripts were very probably removed from the Casa Professa between October 21 and October 26, 1873, during the days following the confiscation of the Gesù (October 20) and the departure of P. Beckx (October 27) to Belgian College in Rome then to the Jesuit property of San Girolamo, in Fiesole.

Till now, there is no direct proof about the destination of these manuscripts. The Nobile Collegio Mondragone is the probable one, compatible with Voynich's statement on his purchase and with Father Strickland's role in it. The choice of the villa Mondragone is very understandable. It was an excellent place to protect manuscripts from new government's exaction, because the villa was a property of one of the greatest nobilian family in Italy, the Borghese, occupied by the college of the Italian nobility, the Rector's brother of which, senator count Ponza di San Martino, issued from Piemontese nobility, was a King Emanuele's confidential man. The College was never confiscated and, during the years '70, Jesuits had the feeling that it was the least threatened amongst their houses.


Notes :

1- I didn't have the opportunity to look at this correspondence.

2- Codices Vaticani Latini - Codices 11414-11709 - Schedis Henrici Carusi Adhibitis Recensuit José Ruysschaert, Bibliothecae Vaticanae Scriptor - In Bibliotheca Vaticana - 1959.

3- See J. Diamond, A Catalogue of the old Roman College Library and a Reference to Another, in Gregorianum, tome 32, 1951, p.103, note 1 and p.113.

4- The true name of this church, which became the model for Jesuit churches throughout the world, is Santissima Nome di Gesù (Church of the Holy Name of Jesus). It was consecrated in 1584.

5- Markus Sittikus von Hohenems; Altemps is an italianization of " Hohen Ems ".

6- From the fifteenth century, Frascati became a favourite health resort of Roman cardinals and nobles.

7- Il Giornale - Roma Cronaca, December 17, 2002, paper for the exhibition " La Villa Spedita ", held on December 2002.

8- Some explanations on this sale: the 1866 law didn't recognized the religious orders, so the stratagem was probably the use of a " tontina ", as mentioned by Giacomo Martina in La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870, in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), p. 269, note 181. A tontina is a society in which the members may change; if they are gradually substituted, it becomes a more or less legal way to discreetly transfer a property. " Non sappiamo quale soluzione fosse adottata quando il principe Borghese, che aveva a lungo affittato la villa Mondragone al gesuiti romani, il 30 Iuglio 1896 la vendette al padri Lorenzo Lugari, Giovanni Nobili Vitelleschi e Felice Pignataro; il fatto che i titolari fossero in seguito sostituiti induce a pensare che si trattasse appunto di una tontina. L'ultimo titolare - il padre Luigi Camattari - il 2 agosto 1933 cedette la proprietà alla provincia romana dell'ordine, riconosciuta giuridicamente il 2 marzo 1931 ". Trans. : " We don't know what was the chosen solution when prince Borghese, who rented villa Mondragone to the roman Jesuits for a long time, sold it on July 30, 1896 to fathers Lorenzo Lugari, Giovanni Nobili Vitelleschi et Felice Pignataro; the fact that the owners shifted afterwards let think that it was precisely a tontina. The last owner - father Luigi Camattari - gave the property on August 2, 1933 to the roman province of the order, legally recognized on March 2, 1931".

9- Giuseppe Billanovich, "Le catalogue des Vaticani Latini 11414-11709", in Scriptorium 1962, Chronique, pp. 79-80. " Questi trecento codici sono chiusi dentro il confine netto di un fondo: essi rappresentato il gruppo centrale e maggiore della libreria del Collegio Romano dei Gesuiti; quello che, dopo la tempesta che passò sulle biblioteche ecclesiastiche quando i bersaglieri italiani entrarono in Roma papale dalla breccia di Porto Pia (1870), riaffiorò lentamente, sotto Pio X (1903-1914), nella Biblioteca Vaticana".

10- Elisabeth Pellegrin, " Les manuscrits classiques latins de la Bibliothèque Vaticane ", Documents, études et répertoires, published by the Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, XXI, CNRS, 1975, volume III-1, p.17: " Une partie de la bibliothèque du Collège des Jésuites de Rome, que le Père Beckx avait réussi à soustraire aux confiscations de la sécularisation, a été achetée et donnée à la Bibliothèque Vaticane en 1912 par le pape Pie X ".

11- Ruysschaert, Codices Vaticani Latini 11414-11709, Praefatio, p. IX : " Praeterea codices qui in ultimis anis saec. XIX e Collegio Romano ablati sunt, distinguuntur alia schedula chartacea in summa parte primi folii textus agglutinata, qua typis impressa verba haec leguntur : Ex bibliotheca privata P. Beckx, qui tunc Societatis Iesu praepositus generalis erat. Harum notularum nonnullae, folio deperdito, desunt; aliae erasae vel avulsae sunt, sed saepissime earum vestigia supersunt ".

12- Appendix, pp.309-214, document n°12, p. 309, preserved in the Archivio della curia generalizia della Compagnia di Gesù, ARSI, Arch. Rom.s.j. - Rom. 35.VIII.6 (copia litografata). The relation is corroborated in La Civiltà cattolica, 1873, vol.12, pp.361-362 (Cronaca contemporanea).

13- The law of 19 June, 1873 enacted the nonexistence of all religious orders.

14- Arrived at 9 o'clock in the morning, on September 20, 1873, the fourteen government's and City's delegates announced their mission; then they distributed pension certificates to the Fathers and Brothers, put together in one of the rooms of the Casa, General P. Beckx deliberately missing.

15- Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (1690-1756) or his nephew, Luigi Valenti Gonzaga (1725-1808).The will was not on behalf of P. Beckx personally, who was 13 years old in 1808, but probably in behalf of the General.

16- p. 235 : " In Italia si scelse il male minore e si preferì cooperare con le autorità civili per salvare il salvabile, distinguendo in qualche caso fra ciò che cadeva sotto la legge e ciò che i religiosi potevano portare via (una lunga discussione si accese sulla biblioteca privata del preposito generale della Compagnia di Gesù, che il padre Beckx, generale, riuscì a recuperare come sua proprietà privata, grazie ai buoni uffici di alcuni funzionari di corte e malgrado alcune ingenue dichiarazioni di qualche gesuita) ".

17- Contrary to France, where the religious communities were evicted by force.

18- The Quirinal is one of the seven hills of Rome.

19- " A Fiesole il padre Beckx prese dimora a san Girolamo, acquistata anni prima dalla famiglia Ricasoli, cui apparteneva, per ogni eventualità ". Giacomo Martina, La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870 , in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), Milan, 1973, p. 248, note 120.

20- P. General Luis Martìn changed the Society's headquarters from Fiesole to Rome in January, 1895.

21- Codices 11414 to 11709, to which we have to add codex 11696 A.

22- Including MS 408 and others manuscripts bought by Voynich, as quoted in Ruysschaert, Codices…; preface, p. VII, n. 3.

23- G. de Sepibus, Romani Collegii Soc. Jesu Musaeum celeberrimum (Amsterdam, 1678), p.65.

24- Fletcher, John E.: A brief survey of the unpublished correspondence of Athanasius Kircher, S. J., (1602-1680) in: Manuscripta, vol. XIII, November 1969, n º 3, p.151.

25- Ruysschaert, Codices…, codex 11698, ref. 23, p.468.

26- In 1872, the Company declared 56 houses to the S. Congregazione sulla disciplina dei regolari. Quoted in Giacomo Martina, La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870 , in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), appendice I, p.286.

27- " Don Marcantonio Borghese decise di destinare il grande edificio a fissa dimora di un collegio, tanto più che anch'egli aveva figlioli da fare istruire ed educare. Del provvido suo divisamento rese partecipe il P. Ponza di S. Martino, provinciale della Compagnia di Gesù; ed ogni accordo essendo stato raggiunto poté il giorno 2 febbraio 1865 vedersi istituito ed aperto il Collegio di Mondragone, che ebbe il 21 agosto dell'anno stesso l'augusta inaspettata visita di S.S. Pio IX ". See :

28- ARSI, Rom. 36.I.2, quoted in Giacomo Martina, La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870 , in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), Milan, 1973, p. 252.

29- Since 1907 Boville Ernica is the new name of the town of Bauco, province of Frosinone.

30 - " Quelli di Giulano, di Tivoli, di Galloro, vivono in una penosa aspettazione della loro sorte vicina, ma finora il solo Bauco (Boville Ernica) è stato disciolto. Anche il P. Ponza comincia a temere per Mondragone ".

31- " Restò indisturbato il collegio Mondragone, sorto nel 1865 nella villa che il principe Borghese aveva affittato ai gesuiti (non è escluso che il governo guardasse con un certo timore riverenziale la proprietà di un nobile romano, affidata per di più a un nobile Piemontese, il padre Alessandro Ponza di San Martino, fratello del conte Ponza, latore della lettera di Vittorio Emanuele II a Pio IX per la presa di Roma) ".

32- Manuscript written in March 1871, preserved in the Jesuits Archives of the Province of Rome. Testimony quoted in Giacomo Martina S.I. " Al Collegio Romano il 20 settembre 1870: dalla relazione del p. P. Ragazzini S.J.", Archivum historiae pontificiae, Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, Facultas Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Romae, vol. 8 (1970), p. 341 : " Avvenne circa quei giorni l'arrivo a Roma del Conte Ponza di S. Marino, latore di una lettera del Re al Papa e dell'annunzio della prossima occupazione di Roma. Costui andò anche dal nostro p. Generale (Note : P. Beckx) pregandolo di far venire a Roma il C. Ponza suo fratello e rettore del convitto di Mondragone per vederlo prima di ripartire : e in quella conversazione disse, che in Roma sarebbero lasciati stare tutti gli ordini religiosi, compresi i gesuiti ".


Appendix: Letter from P. Pierling, segretario dell'assistente di Germania, to his superior on the capture of the Gesù of Roma
(probably sent in November 1873, preserved in the Archivio della curia generalizia della Compagnia di Gesù, ARSI, Rom.35.VIII.6).

Quoted in Giacomo Martina, La situazione degli istituti religiosi in Italia intorno al 1870 , in Chiesa e religiosità in Italia dopo l'unità : (1861-1878), pp. 194-329; atti del quarto Convegno di storia della Chiesa. La Mendola, 31 agosto-5 settembre 1971. Milan 1973; appendix, document n°12, p. 309.

" Mon Révérend Père,

J'ai l'honneur de vous communiquer quelques détails sur la prise de possession du Gesù de Rome par la junte liquidatrice.
Toujours exposée au danger d'être supprimée depuis le 20 Sept. et surtout depuis la sanction de la loi, qui n'accorde pas au Gouvernement la faculté de laisser au Chef de la Compagnie le local qu'il occupe, la maison professe n'a été conservée si longtemps que grâce aux efforts du T. R. P. Général, qui déploya la plus constante énergie pour détourner ou au moins pour retarder le coup fatal. A plusieurs reprises des mémoires détaillés furent communiqués à tous les membres du Corps diplomatique accrédité près le St. Siège pour les engager à maintenir intacte l'existence d'une maison internationale, fondée par des étrangers pour la Compagnie tout entière et comprise en quelque sorte dans le nombre de celles que la triste loi des garanties réserve au Pontife spolié. La bienveillance de quelques personnages distingués permit de continuer la lutte pendant trois ans, mais le voyage de Berlin devait assurer le triomphe de nos ennemis. Ne trouvant partout que des approbateurs hardis ou de muets complices, le ministère Italien résolut de céder aux instances du parti avancé et de sévir contre les religieux avant même que les Chambres ne fussent convoquées.
Dès les premiers jours du mois d'Octobre des bruits sinistres de suppression se répandirent dans les journaux officieux et l'assurance de leur langage prouvait bien qu'ils avaient reçu le mot d'ordre et qu'ils ne craignaient pas de démenti. Ce ne fut que le 18 Oct. que le P. Vice -Préposé du Gesù reçut la communication officielle, qui annonçait la prise de possession pour le 20 du mois courant. En effet au jour indiqué vers 9 heures du matin 14 individus se présentèrent pour l'accomplissement de cet acte. C'étaient les délégués de la junte liquidatrice, le notaire Bobbio, ancien élève du Collège romain, était à leur tête, le prince B. Odescalchi représentait la municipalité, ils étaient accompagnés par le chroniqueur d'un journal obscur, qui prit des notes tout le temps et ne manqua pas de publier dès le lendemain une narration plus ou moins fidèle et pleine d'insinuations perfides. On les fit monter aussitôt dans une petite salle du premier, où nous avions coutume de nous rassembler après dîner, depuis qu'on nous a enlevé nos grands salons. Cette pièce avait été occupée jusque dans les derniers temps par les soldats, mise ensuite à notre disposition, elle avait été restaurée depuis peu. Son aspect est de plus simples, la seule chose qui frappe le regard c'est un crucifix avec un Christ de grandeur naturelle, qui date encore du temps de St. François de Borgia et qu'on avait fraîchement peint couleur de chair. Bobbio s'assit au bout de la longue table, placée au milieu de la chambre, à sa droite le prince Odescalchi, à sa gauche les autres employés. Les Pères et Frères du Gesù occupèrent les chaises de paille rangées le long des murs. La vue des spoliateurs sacrilèges au pied du Crucifix faisait frisson-ner d'émotion et la pensée se reportait d'elle-même au Calvaire. Après un moment de silence, Bobbio déclara qu'il venait muni des pouvoirs de la junte et accompagné de témoins pour prendre possession des meubles et immeubles " Del già convento del Gesù " et pour distribuer les brevets de pension, qui est de 600 Fs. par an pour les Pères et de 300 pour les Frères. Aussitôt commença la distribution, chacun de nous appelé par son nom et prénom, s'approchait de la table, signait la quittance et recevait son brevet. On avait commencé par les Frères et en suivant l'ordre inverse du Catalogue, le T. R. P. Général fut cité le dernier avec le même laconisme que les autres: Beckx Pietro. Comme il s'était absenté exprès de la maison, il n'eut pas à paraître. Quelques jours après on lui apporta son brevet et après un moment de réflexion il dit: " Je par-tagerai le sort des autres " et signa la quittance. Cette distribution termi-née le P. Vice-Préposé déclara qu'il se voyait obligé en conscience de protester contre la prise de possession de la maison. Le notaire, étant prêt à admettre tout ce qui ne serait pas offensif à la loi, le P. Armellini lut la protestation suivante dont une copie fut remise au notaire pour être enregistrée dans les actes :

" Le Supérieur de la maison du Gesù déclare qu'il cède uniquement à la force en subissant l'acte, par lequel on prend possession de cette maison et qu'il maintient aussi sans le moindre préjudice tous les droits de la Compagnie de Jésus sur cette même maison.

Quant à la bibliothèque, qui se trouve dans cette maison du Gesù, il déclare qu'elle n'est pas la propriété de la famille religieuse, qui habite la maison, par la raison qu'une partie en revient au Préposé Général de la Compagnie de Jésus par disposition testamentaire du Cardinal Valenti Gonzaga, comme il a été dit dans l'inventaire des biens de la maison du Gesù, et que l'autre se compose de livres envoyés au Général lui-même, selon l'usage, par les écrivains de la Compagnie ".

20 Oct. 1873 Marco Rossi Supr.

Pour savoir au juste à quoi s'en tenir on jugea à propos de demander quelques explications sur le mode de procéder dans la prise de possession. Le notaire répondit que chaque religieux pouvait retenir tout ce qui est de sa propriété personnelle, mais que les biens de la communauté retombaient à l'État. Faute d'instruction, il ne sut résoudre le doute soulevé par le P. Rubillon sur les bibliothèques des Assistants, mais trois jours après vint la réponse favorable et chaque Assistant put emporter ses livres. Sur cet incident la séance fut levée, le notaire annonça qu'il allait procéder à la vérification des inventaires et que tous avaient le droit d'y assister. Ces inventaires, demandés, par la Junte, quelques mois auparavant, avaient été présentés par les maisons religieuses munis de protestations en règle.
On se dirigea, immédiatement vers la grande bibliothèque. La surprise, causée par l'absence du catalogue, cessa lorsqu'on eût prouvé par des actes authentiques que le catalogue n'avait jamais existé. On prit copie de ces actes et les sceaux piémontais fermèrent les portes au-dessus desquelles on voit St. Ignace à Manrèse avec la légende: Liber exercitiorum S. P. I. bibliothecas Societatis aperuit. La bibliothèque de la Duchesse de Saxe, qui passe par disposition testamentaire à l'Empereur d'Autriche, fut scellée quelques jours après par un secrétaire de la légation autrichienne.
Le P. Procureur étant absent, les délégués ne s'emparèrent que plus tard des livres de compte, mais ils ne manquèrent pas d'exiger les 8.000 frs., payés quelques jours auparavant pour la partie expropriée. Un sourire ironique trahit leur méfiance, lorsqu'ils entendirent que toute la somme avait été déjà dépensée pour payer des dettes arriérées.
Le lendemain 21 Oct. vint le tour des chambres. Le notaire y entrait avec toute sa suite, faisait asseoir son greffier, notait le numéro des chambres, le nom du religieux et sur son indication inscrivait sur des feuilles séparées les objets appartenant à la communauté et ceux de propriété individuelle. Par une étrange coïncidence au moment même de cet acte je tenais sur mon bureau des autographes du célèbre P. Odescalchi, qui auraient donné lieu à de singuliers rapprochements, si les circonstances n'eussent imposé la plus grande réserve. La chambre du T. R. P. Général devait être visitée comme celles des autres, il reçut les délégués avec un maintien calme et digne, qui trahissait l'émotion et commandait le respect. Embarras ou remords, on crut remarquer une certaine hésitation dans les délégués, ils accomplirent en un clin d'oeil toutes les formalités légales et se retirèrent visiblement impressionnés.
Le 23 Octobre ils se rendirent à l'Eglise. Le Cardinal Vicaire avait été averti quelques jours auparavant de nommer un nouveau recteur pour le Gesù. Son choix s'arrêta sur le digne Msgr. Macchi, qui fut refusé par la junte comme frère d'un jésuites. Aux instances du Vicariat on répondit par les menaces de fermer l'église. Pour ne pas compliquer l'affaire Msgr. Macchi donna sa démission et le chanoine Lauri fut nommé à sa place. Les délégués ne visitèrent pas l'église, ils entrèrent seulement dans la sacristie et interpellés par le Chanoine Lauri, ils répondirent qu'ils ne venaient pas pour prendre possession mais uniquement pour consigner les objets d'église, contradiction trop évidente pour mériter d'être relevée. Toutefois les inventaires furent signés et tout fut dit. Les chapelles de St. Ignace sont considérées comme annexes de l'église. Ne voulant pas renoncer au corridor, nécessaire pour la communication, on promet de protéger par une grille de fer les belles fresques de Pozzi qui s'y trouvent et de faire un nouvel escalier pour les chapelles avec une entrée séparée sur la rue. On tâchera en outre d'y arranger deux petites chambres pour le gardien du sanctuaire. Dorénavant les RR. PP. Capucins seront chargés des sermons au Gesù, des prêtres séculiers occuperont les confessionnaux, les nôtres se sont complètement retirés.
Les délégués se dirigèrent ensuite vers la Congrégation des Nobles, située dans la maison professe et qui peut à bon droit être considérée comme faisant partie de l'église. C'est avec bonheur que nous rendons hommage à la courageuse fermeté des membres de la Congrégation, ils étaient représentés par le Comte de Witten, le Comte Moroni et le Marquis Serlupi. Le. premier prit la parole et s'appuyant sur la déclaration faite qu'on ne voulait pas prendre possession, il fit observer qu'il n'y avait rien à consigner dans la Congrégation et que par conséquent toute visite était inutile. Ces raisons étaient trop bonnes pour être acceptées; le Comte de Witten en appela alors aux termes mêmes du décret de suppression du 15 Oct. 1873 , qui maintient tous les locaux destinés au culte. L'interprétation arbitraire l'emporte de nouveau sur le droit et le noble comte n'eut d'autre satisfaction que celle de faire enregistrer dans les actes une énergique protestation.
Pendant que les délégués s'acquittaient ainsi de leur triste besogne les nôtres étaient occupés à emballer et à emporter tout ce qu'il y avait moyen de soustraire à la rapacité de la Junte. Un délai de 15 jours à dater du 20 avait été accordé à cet effet. La maison présentait le plus triste aspect, on ne voyait de tous côtés que des caisses et des portefaix et on lisait sur tous les visages l'expression de la douleur résignée.
Cependant l'heure de la dispersion approchait. Le T. R. P. Général ré-solut de donner l'exemple de l'abnégation en partant le premier. Le 27 Oct. il fit convoquer tous les Pères du Gesù pour leur faire ses adieux. Les traits respiraient une calme émotion et son coeur paternel lui inspira de simples et touchantes paroles. Il nous exhorta à nous montrer partout de dignes enfants de St. Ignace, à combattre toujours avec la même ardeur, quoique d'une autre manière, sous l'étendard de Jésus et à ne chercher que sa plus grande gloire. La Compagnie, ajouta-t-il, partage en ce moment le sort de l'Église persécutée à outrance et je puis l'attester pour votre consolation, elle est innocente des calomnies qu'on lui impute. " Beati eritis cum persecuti vos fuerint ", furent ses dernières paroles, plus d'une fois les larmes l'empêchèrent de parler et son émotion se communiquant à ses auditeurs on n'entendait de temps en temps que des sanglots. Quelques paroles de mutuelle consolation furent échangées après ce petit discours et une dernière bénédiction du T. R. P. Général encouragea ses enfants à se résigner à la volonté de Dieu.
Dans le courant de l'après-midi le T. R. P. se rendit encore une fois à l'église et s'agenouillant devant l'autel de St. Ignace, il resta d'abord en prières, et puis les yeux pleins de larmes il baisa le pavé chéri du temple qu'il allait quitter. Deux heures après une petite voiture l'emmenait au Collège Belge sur le Quirinal. La plus exquise charité l'y attendait et c'est un devoir bien cher à notre coeur d'en témoigner notre reconnaissance à Mr. l'Abbé Van den Branden, Recteur du Collège. Cette nouvelle se répandit aussitôt dans la ville et d'illustres prélats, des Romains et des étrangers de distinction vinrent exprimer au T. R. P. Général leurs sentiments de sympathie envers lui et envers toute la Compagnie.
Le séjour au Collège belge fut de courte durée. Il avait été déjà décidé, que le Gouvernement de la Compagnie, désormais impossible à Rome, exigeait une nouvelle combinaison. Les incertitudes présentes ne permettaient pas de prendre une résolution définitive et Florence fut choisie comme première étape. Le 30 Oct. le T. R. P. partit de Rome, accompagné de l'Abbé Van den Branden et du P. Anderledy. Les autres Assistants le rejoignirent bientôt et plongés dans la même douleur ils attendent tous les jours des miséricordes divines ".