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The Eye of the Eagle

John Donne and the Legacy of Ignatius Loyola


Francesca Knox Bugliani

John Donne’s family were committed Catholics. His two uncles were Jesuits. One of them, Jasper Heywood, was the leader of the Jesuit mission in England, while Donne’s mother was a recusant who was forced to leave the country in 1595. In this detailed and historically contextualized study, the author argues that Donne was greatly influenced in his journey from militant Roman Catholicism to ordination in the Church of England by Ignatius of Loyola’s religious ideals and in particular by his Spiritual Exercises.
The book describes the pervasive influence of the Spiritual Exercises on late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Catholicism and Protestantism. In this light, it offers a close reading of Donne’s preordination religious poems and prose with constant reference to the sermons. These works are usually read through the tinted lenses of ‘Catholicism’ or ‘Protestantism’ or other religious ‘-isms’. The reading proposed here argues instead that Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises were for Donne a means to transcend the simplistic and perilous divisions of contemporary Catholicism and Protestantism.


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Appendix II - The Date of Donne’s Essays in Divinity, ‘Divine Meditations’and ‘La Corona’ -287


Appendix II The Date of Donne’s Essays in Divinity, ‘Divine Meditations’ and ‘La Corona’ The Date of Donne’s Essays in Divinity Donne’s Essays is commonly thought to have been written shortly before his ordination in 1615.1 I suggest an earlier date than that for the composi- tion of the Essays. My contention is that Donne wrote Essays in Divinity before 1612, probably in 1610. There are reasons for this. First, all the works of commentators and exegetes that Donne quotes in the Essays had been written by 1606. Second, the latest reference in Donne’s Essays is to Paolo Comitoli’s SJ, Responsa moralia (Lyon: Horace Cardon, 1609) cited also in Pseudo-Martyr.2 Third, there is no unambiguous use of the King James Bible in the Essays that can be seriously proved. Another reason why I believe Donne wrote his Essays earlier than 1614 is that at p. 12, where he discusses whether Moses is more ancient author than Trismegistus, Donne does not quote the Swiss theologian Isaac Casaubon’s De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI (London: John Bill, 1614), where Casaubon, at pp. 71–87, proves that Hermetic philosophy belongs to a much later period than pre- viously thought. It is likely that Donne would have mentioned Casaubon’s discovery. Donne quotes Casaubon’s preface to De Libertate ecclesiastica 1 Bald, John Donne, 281, 298. 2 Donne, Essayes, ed. Raspa, 176. The reference to Pareus is not from the commentary of 1609, as Raspa suggests, but from his controversy with Hunnius on Elohim, dated...

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