Like other Europeans, Germans traveled abroad during the Early Modern period on religious missions. Efforts to Christianize the world had been underway for centuries and were usually undertaken by various religious orders. One of the most important groups seeking to spread the faith was the Society of Jesus, a Catholic organization whose members were referred to as the Jesuits and whose networks spanning the globe. The Jesuits recruited members from all over and often worked with secular rulers to establish missions in new territories. By the seventeenth century, Jesuits had a strong presence in both the Americas and Asia, with many Germans working alongside other Europeans to convert local populations. In theory, “national” identity should not have mattered much in this context since the overriding category was religion. Indeed, the idea that the entire world, despite local differences, could be united can be seen in the Wilhelm Gumppenberg’s Atlas Marianus, a compendium of global sites where miraculous images of the Virgin Mary had appeared. It was widely believed that a shared confession had the capacity to unify disparate groups. At the same time, it was also clear that confession did not negate other identities, even if they became subordinated to the common Catholic cause.


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