Explore the Past
Explore the Jesuits in Britain's past through exhibitions, podcasts, oral history projects, and useful resources for conducting your own research.
A series of virtual exhibitions created in-house by the British Jesuit Archives or through Jesuit Collections, an online platform for collaborative projects with Stonyhurst College.
Hot Holy Ladies
This exhibition, in collaboration with Stonyhurst College, tells the story of Helena Wintour, who operated at the centre of a recusant network with close ties to Jesuit missionaries. Creating illegal vestments, she was forced to operate in secret under threat of exposure. Although her name was tainted by association with the most notorious attempt at terrorism of the 17th century, the Gunpowder Plot, she persisted in this dangerous, subversive work, and defiantly embroidered her name on the vestments.
Her life story is told here through a documentary, and Stonyhurst College Curator, Dr Jan Graffius, introduces her 6 surviving vestments in a series of short videos.
How Bleedeth Burning Love: British Jesuit Province's Relics of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, this online exhibition examines the faith stories of these remarkable men and women from the 16th and 17th centuries. It is illustrated with images of their relics and other manuscripts and artefacts in the care of the Jesuits in Britain Archives and Stonyhurst College.
Jesuit Army Chaplains, 1914
At the end of its first year there were 10 Jesuits serving as military chaplains in the First World War. By the end of 1917, the year that saw the US enter the war and the battle of Passchendaele, this number had risen to over 70. This exhibition showcases the profiles of those first 10 Jesuit chaplains.
Leslie Walker SJ
WW1 Watercolour on Paper
Sketches by WW1 chaplain Leslie Walker with the 19th Division in the north of France, August 1915 - May 1916.
Digitised by the Jesuits in Britain
The Significance of Relics
Rebecca Somerset (Archivist, British Jesuit Archives) conducts an interview with Dr Jan Graffius (Curator, Stonyhurst College Collections) about Jan’s experience of researching and caring for relics. They discuss the skills needed to work with relics and how the stories of individual relics are discovered.
The podcast offers an understanding of why relics are important, and parallels are drawn between the relics of English and Welsh martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries and of the relics of St Romero and others, who were killed in the 1980s in El Salavador. Of course, they touch on the recent relic exhibition, How Bleedeth Burning Love, which they jointly launched in March 2021.
Twitter: @JesuitArchives and @StonyArchivum
The recording was edited by Emma Holland.
Oral History Projects
The Letters of Fr John Luck SJ
Fr John Luck SJ was a Jesuit priest who served as an army Chaplain to the forces between 1915 and 1919. During this time he wrote letters to his mother and sisters about the various journeys and day to day activities of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Through this correspondence we can gain a unique first-hand perspective of life in the forces during WW1. Find out more about his life and listen to the letters.
Take a trip down memory lane with some of the Jesuits in Britain as they share the stories that have shaped their lives over the years both inside and outside of the Society of Jesus.
Useful Resources for Jesuit biography
Br Henry Foley SJ (1811-1891) was an English Jesuit Roman Catholic church historian. Foley’s Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus: historic facts illustrative of the labours and sufferings of its members in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – published in the late nineteenth century – is comprised of seven volumes and covers the early history of the mission and of the Jesuit priests who served it. It is a compilation of research that is invaluable to historical research, which has now been digitised by various organisations including the Hathi Trust Digital Library.
A Catalogue is produced annually by each Province of the Society of Jesus that lists the permanent address of each Jesuit residing in the particular Province for the given year, along with their dates of birth, entry to the Society and – when applicable – profession of Final Vows. The Archives of the House of the Superior General have provided online access to the SJ Catalogues 1774-1935.
The Catalogus Defunctorum provides brief outline dates and places for all the Jesuits who died during this time frame. The Jesuit Archives of Central United States have put the SJ Catalogus Defunctorum 1814-1970 online.