Ultima Funeris Pompa Extincti Ordinis Jesuitarum
Death of the Society of Jesus
Satirical Etching Commemorating the ‘Funeral’
Of the Jesuit Order in 1773
Including a Cohort of Paraguayan Soldiers in the Procession
[Americana] / [Jesuits] / [Satire] / [Etching] / [Anonymous].
Rome, apresso il Gry Compost. [1773]

Ultima Funeris Pompa Extincti Ordinis Jesuitarum.

Full-sheet broadside [64.0 x 45.0 cm], (1) f. etching. Trimmed on or just outside the platemark, minor edge wear, some unobtrusive spotting, a fine, dark strike of this rare etching.

Very rare first and only edition of this satirical broadside commemorating the (imaginary) funeral procession held at the ‘death’ of the Jesuit Order following its suppression by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The large etching – a work of considerable iconographical and technical sophistication – borrows its pictorial format from a genre of festival print much in vogue at the time, namely the souvenir publications that depicted the elaborate, formal processions or cavalcades held on important feast days, at the arrival of a potentate, at the election of a pontiff, or, as here, at the death of an important figure. Such prints are easily recognized by the snaking form of the procession, which is looped back and forth to fit all participants of a long cortege into a single picture.  

The at the top of the print is a portrait of Clement XIV flanked by putti holding the keys of St. Peter and a writ announcing the Jesuit suppression. Here also are seen a trumpeting angel and a veiled allegorical figure representing the Society of Jesus (she wears a biretta and a placard reading “Societas extincta”). The central panel depicts a motley crew in solemn procession. Death leads the corteo funebre, followed by musicians, a cohort of Paraguayan soldiers (a reference to 1767 expulsion of Jesuits from Spanish holdings in America), acolytes carrying insignia and liturgical items specific to the order, biers piled with allegorical images related to the order’s fall, and sacred and secular types affected by the suppression. Carried aloft is the papal brief Dominus ac Redemptor, which officially pronounced the sentence against the Society, and the coffin representing the defunct Order itself carries its birth and death dates (1540-1773) and is festooned with older papal bulls which had been written in support of the Jesuits. Below is a mock epitaph and a key to the figures depicted in procession. Text is in Latin and is rather subtle in its allusions, suggesting that the print was made for a learned audience familiar with the complexities surrounding the political maneuvering among the Society of Jesus, papal authorities, and secular powers at the time.


OCLC and KVK locate only 4 examples worldwide of this greatly understudied print (Boston College, Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg, and Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München).

* W. Drugulin, Historischer Bilderatlas, no. 4924; X. F. Bischof, et al., eds, Einführung in die Geschichte des Christentums, p. 376.

Price: $3,350.00