Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ignatius of Loyola, Letters and Instructions

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ignatius of Loyola, Letters and Instructions

Article excerpt

Ignatius of Loyola, Letters and Instructions. Edited by Martin E. Palmer, SJ.; John W Padberg, SJ.; and John L. McCarthy, SJ. [Series I: Jesuit Primary Sources in English Translations, No. 23·] (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources. 2006. Pp. xxxii, 732. $40.95 clothbound, ISBN 978-1-880-81067-0; $30.50 paperback, ISBN 978-1-880-81068-9.)

The number of letters written or commissioned by St. Ignatius of Loyola is enough to daunt any translator: probably some 7000 exist, and 6800 have already been given a critical edition in the Monumenta Histórica Societatis Ie su. Moreover, as they were written in more than one language (mainly Spanish and Italian, but also in Latin) and often in a convoluted style - Ignatius seems to have thought in subclauses - only selections have appeared in translations. Significant editions are Maurice Giuliani's Ignace de Loyola, Écrits (Paris, 1991), which contains 231 letters, and Hugo Rahner's Saint Ignatius Loyola, Letters to Women (Freiburg, 1956), which includes eighty Ignatian letters written to women and a number of replies.

With the 369 letters selected and translated by the late Martin Palmer, the Institute of Jesuit Sources provides the widest overview so far of this essential source. John Padberg refers in his introduction to the great variety of topics apparent in the corpus of letters: "personal, political, social, educational, financial, and religious concerns" (p. vii), requiring alterations of tone adapted to the social classes addressed (from popes and kings to female friends). He concludes: "What has been assembled here comes with the hope that they will be an aid to understanding Ignatius in his undoubted complexity and his equally undoubted greatness" (p. …

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