2023 - Lisbon


Circa Missiones: Jesuit Understandings of Mission through the Centuries

Lisbon | June 12–14, 2023

Map of New France, 1612
Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies

In Jesuit vocabulary, the word mission has multiple meanings. It can be used to describe a ministry of the Society of Jesus, geographic locations, and the structure of the settlements where Jesuits engaged in their evangelizing work. Jesuits have a fourth vow professing special obedience to the Pope, circa missiones–in regard to the missions. Dispersed throughout the globe for nearly five centuries, Jesuits have actualized these multiple understandings of mission. They established missions in foreign lands, performed missionary activity, and developed a self-understanding of their apostolic work in terms of a missionary mentality, resulting in Jesuits having developed skills that were relevant to a missionary. By being sent, they were motivated to serve, for example, as artists who adapted to local styles, translators and grammarians of native languages, and correspondents who conveyed images of various societies. They became pivotal cultural mediators, serving as cartographers, astronomers, ethnographers, and anthropologists. Their missions enabled them to foster commerce and accompany scientific voyages. They published journals, treatises, biographies, travel logs, and maps, and they participated in worldwide networks circulating literature and art. 


This symposium, organized by the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies with Brotéria in Lisbon, will be hosted in Portugal, from which thousands of Jesuits departed to engage with people and environments on a global scale. This scholarly event will investigate the development of the global, multifaceted mission of both pre- and post-Suppression of the Society of Jesus. Proposals are welcomed that consider any aspect of Jesuit life related to the Jesuit sense of mission. Presentations might address such questions as these: What strategies did Jesuits employ when, as articulated by their Constitutions, dispersed throughout Christ’s vineyard to labor? How did Jesuits present themselves as candidates to be sent on mission and what motivated their desires for availability? How did the internal structure of the Society of Jesus (and the personalities of the Jesuits themselves) facilitate or hinder missionary efforts? How were those contributions impacted by external forces—either local or global, cultural or political? 


For example, how did the Jesuits’ relations with different European powers spark, facilitate, limit, or end evangelization efforts within competing global empires? How did Jesuit missionaries and their superiors determine where to labor and whom to evangelize? What are revealing examples of successful determinations and unsuccessful ones? What were the benefits, hindrances, and consequences of the Jesuit mission as it interacted with local customs and virtues? How did the Jesuit mission influence art, theological treatises, scientific work, and pedagogical approaches? How can indigenous people be seen in the books, maps, correspondence, and other materiality produced by Jesuits?


Proposals and a narrative CV (together no more than 500 words) are due before the end of Wednesday, November 30, 2022. Selected papers may be peer-reviewed and published in open access following the event. More details are available at bc.edu/iajs. Submissions should be made through this form. Contact the Institute with questions (iajs@bc.edu).