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Explanatory Notes:

The topic I chose for my project was Jesuit Education in Colonial Brazil as outlined in the Ratio Studiorum of 1599. The Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis lesu {Method and System of the Studies of the Society of Jesus) defined the organization, operation and teaching methodology of Jesuit secondary and higher education institutions during the greater part of the colonial period, which extended from April 1500 when the first Portuguese explorers set foot on the Brazilian shore to July 1822 when Brazil declared its independence from Portugal. The Jesuitic Period encompassed the years between 1549 when the Brazilian Province of the Society of Jesus was established to 1757 when the Order was expelled from Brazil and its colleges closed by edict of the Portuguese Crown. During this period, the Society's colleges dominated the educational landscape.

The Ratio Studiorum was a document of broad intent and universal application. Its rules applied to all Jesuit institutions in European countries and their colonies. The expectation of the Society was that its teaching members would faithfully follow the rules prescribed by the document and carry on instruction by its established methods. Farrell (1970) notes that "the Ratio was in good part a manual for teachers, who were expected to follow carefully the rules of their respective classes" (p. 132). The expectation of fidelity to the Ratio also applied to Brazilian Jesuits. This obligation suggests that its pedagogical guidelines were implemented in Brazil.

The goal of the project was to organize and present information about the content and context of the Ratio Studiorum. The content consists of the origin, policies and procedures of the curricula and pedagogy of the tiered Jesuit educational system as expounded in the Ratio. The context refers to authors, publications and intellectual traditions that directly or indirectly influenced the Jesuit Ideal of Education.

Given the vast amount of information and diversity of opinions about the history of the Society of Jesus and its educational activities, this compendium is offered as a modest introduction to the Ratio Studiorum. A relatively small number of items of information (i.e. entries) are presented in this work. While more material could have been included, I selected information that was useful in pursuing my research interests and in satisfying my curiosity.


This compendium was presented as the final project for the Presidential Seminar on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, scheduled during the 2016-2017 academic year at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. The seminar is organized annually for twelve faculty members by the Office of Mission and Catholic Identity under the guidance of Father Tony Ciorra.

Unpublished paper, copyright 2019 by Karl M. Lorenz.

Previous Versions

Sep 18 2019