Symbolic Medicine: Jeremias Drexel, S. J. (1581-1638), and the World of Catholic Healing

Jeremias Drexel, S.J. (1581–1638) is the most important seventeenth-century German author we have managed to forget. He served as Hofprediger to Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria for twenty-three years, during which time he churned out popular works—sometimes with emblematic illustrations—on salvation and well-being. As the Thirty Years’ War raged between Catholics and Protestants, Drexel’s books enjoyed staggering print runs and were avidly consumed by readers of both faiths, transcending national and linguistic boundaries to gain a pan-European readership. I pursue a holistic examination of Drexel and his works in light of his contemporary reputation as a ‘doctor of souls’ in order to further understand the affective role of symbols as wielded by the Society of Jesus for cultivating their readers’ spirituality, as well as explore the tensions in authority generated by celebrity authorship.