This essay explores the religiously motivated migration of Central European Jesuits to the Spanish Indies against the backdrop of early modern Germany's lack of colonial possession. These migrants played a crucial role in shaping German knowledge about foreign lands during this early stage of globalization. A first section focuses on the motivation, background, and spatial movements of the migrants themselves, stressing the strong allure of the masculine figure of the overseas martyr. The second part of the essay traces the impact of these Jesuit migrations on Germans “back home”, paying particular attention to printed missionary reports that familiarized readers with the colonial world and contributed to a broader, trans-confessional discourse about a distinct German identity in an increasingly connected world.
Although Ignatius created the template for Jesuit manhood, the task of modeling missionary masculinity for future generations fell to Francis Xavier as the first member to venture beyond Europe. This essay focuses on two late seventeenth-century followers of Xavier in the Marianas mission, Diego Luis de Sanvitores and Augustin Strobach, whom contemporaries characterized as virtual “copies” of Xavier with a twist: while the original Xavier longed for martyrdom in vain, Sanvitores and Strobach were able to shed blood for the faith. Their stories are set against the backdrop of the post-Trent revival of martyrdom and the Society’s need to keep generating new Christians as well as new missionaries to extend its reach across space and time. Print technology, which circulated images and stories of saintly exemplars worldwide and offered a cultural template for mimetic copying, was crucial in facilitating such clerical reproduction across the much greater distances involved in early modern evangelization.