Title: Litvanicarum Societatis Jesu historiarum provincialium pars primum.
Title in English: Part One of the History of the Jesuits in the Province of Lithuania.
Published: Vilnae, Typis S.R.M. & Reipublicae Academicis Societatis Jesu, 1768 (1769).
Binding: contemporary binding.
The original two-part historical work “Litvanicarum Societatis Jesu historiarum provincialium pars primum” was written by the Jesuit historian and professor of Vilnius University Stanislovas Rostovskis (Stanisław Rostowski, 1711 - 1784). The first part, published in 1768, describes the period between 1564 and 1664, i.e. the first century after the arrival of the Jesuits to the Order’s territory in the Lithuanian province (now Braniewo, Poland). The second part, dedicated to the second half of the 17th century and all of the 18th century, remained in manuscript form and was lost, though not before other historians managed to refer to it and use it in their work. Relying on documents found in archives, Rostowski gathered extensive data on the Lithuanian Jesuit colleges, the subjects taught there, as well as the professors and events of Vilnius University.
The main topic of the book is the activities of the Order of the Jesuits in Lithuania and the foundation of the university. There is also a description of the canonization of St Casimir and the celebratory awarding of a doctoral degree to Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus. The book also covers the Christianization of Lithuania, the first manifestations of Protestantism in Vilnius, and the wars of Steponas Batoras and other rulers.
The work describes the Jesuit missions in Samogitia in the period of 1583 to 1618, when the Jesuits sought to eradicate the manifestations of Pagan beliefs. The 10 different appendixes and lists provided in the book give more information on various organizations and personalities of the Jesuit provinces. The author is careful in his writing, citing reliable authors and documents from archives, though he does tend to correct the cited documents in an attempt to write in a more elegant style.
Despite some of its flaws, Rostowski’s work is abundant in factual information and is still valuable today as the only source presenting both the history of Jesuits in Lithuania and the Baltic mythology and religion.
References: Baltų religijos ir mitologijos šaltiniai. T. IV. XVIII amžius / sudarė Norbertas Vėlius. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas, 2005, p. 138, 139; Rabikauskas, Paulius. Rostovskis Stanislovas. Iš: Lietuvių enciklopedija. T. 25. Boston: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla, 1961, p. 537; Vilniaus universiteto istorija / Vilniaus valstybinis V. Kapsuko universitetas. T. 1. 1579-1803: J. Kubilius (pirmininkas), V. Merkys (ats. sekretorius), A. Bendžius ir kt. Vilnius: „Mokslas“, p. 199-200; Polski słownik biograficzny.T. 32/1, z. 132, Romiszowski Aleksander - Rostworowski Andrzej /Polska Akademia Nauk. Instytut Historii; [red. nacz. Emanuel Rostworowski]... Kraków [etc.]: Polska Adakemia Umiejętności: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1989, s. 173.