Peru, Jesuits and a Scottish translator

Peru smallJohn Hay (1547-1607) was a Scottish Jesuit who lived as an exile on the Continent. Hay entered the Society of Jesus in 1566 and became noted for his polemical treatises. In his later years he was based in the Low Countries where he translated Jesuit mission reports into Latin. We have been fortunate to acquire his translation of ‘De rebus Peruanis’ (RB.s.2900) of 1604.

This work is an account of the Jesuit Father Diego de Torres Bollo’s missionary activities in Peru. After joining the Jesuit order, Torres Bollo (1550-1638) had hoped to be chosen for the China missions; instead, his superiors sent him to the fledgling mission of Peru in South America. There he eventually became the Provincial of Peru and sent out missionaries throughout the continent.
The title page vignette of the 1604 edition translated by John Hay shows the printer’s device: a stork feeding a snake to its mate. The Latin motto encircling the image reads “Virtus pietas homini tutissima”, or ‘Piety is the most secure virtue for men’. The printer was Martinus Nutius of Antwerp.

Find out more about John Hay in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (accessible through NLS Licensed Digital Collections).