Ignatius on Reading (1553)

Hannibal Coudret was one of the early Jesuits sent to the college at Messina, the first to be founded explicitly and primarily for the education of lay students by members of the Society of Jesus. In many ways, it became a model for later Jesuit schools. Some of the humanistic-classical texts adopted for study in the college, however, raised questions, and Coudret asked for assistance. Ignatius responds through this letter written by Juan Alfonso de Polanco. The letter does make a mistake about the book referenced here, De octo orationis partium constructione. This book was, in fact, written by Erasmus.

For more sources from Ignatius, please visit the Letters of Ignatius of Loyola.


The peace of Christ.

Dearest Master Hannibal in Christ Jesus:

It is true that Our Father does not want works by Erasmus, Vives, Terence, or any other writers dwelling upon immodest [disonesto] topics to be taught. But I will say two things to relieve your scruple. First, this rule is not yet being rigorously observed outside Rome, especially where some have already started to use these books. Second, here in Rome we are endeavoring to adapt these authors as follows. The objectionable passages are removed from Martial, Horace, and the like, and the remainder is left under the author’s names, etc. The little work on the eight parts of prayer is being printed without Erasmus’s name, since he did not write it. We are also preparing an abbreviated version in verse containing what is valuable in Erasmus, and similarly with other authors. We will have these books printed and then they will be sent to you in Messina through our bookseller, who will print them. What you have been doing up till now is all right, and you may continue with that.

If Master Bernard [Olivier] should arrive there, in your charity remember us to him. When I learn where he is, I will write him.

I commend myself to your prayers.

Father Master Louis [Coudret] is well, and still has the same office.

May Jesus Christ be always the help and support of us all.


Rome, August 27, 1553



Original Source (English translation):

Ignatius of Loyola: Letters and Instructions, ed. John W. Padberg, et al. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996, “To Hannibal Coudret, by commission, Rome, August 27, 1553,” pg. 441–442.

Scroll to Top