Stephen White (Jesuit)

Stephen White, SJ (1574–1646) was a Jesuit author and antiquarian who wrote about the early Irish saints.

He was born in Clonmel, Ireland, to a family devoted to religion and education. In 1592, Trinity College, Dublin was founded, and S. White (in all probability Stephen White) was one of the few students named in the charter. Unwilling to take the Oath of Supremacy, he left his native land and entered the Irish College in Salamanca, Spain, where in 1596 he joined the Society of Jesus, and taught from 1602 to 1606. The domestic record says of him, "plurimum profecit in litteris". This skill he employed as one of the two principal collaborators of William Bathe's systematic language method called "Janua linguarum", a work on which John Amos Comenius twenty years later based his celebrated "Janua linguarum reserata".

In 1606 he went to Germany and lectured on theology in Ingolstadt, Dillingen, and other places. He applied himself to the study of history and was generally reputed to be one of the most learned men of his time in Europe. Archbishop Ussher calls him "a man profoundly versed in the ancient records, not of Ireland alone, but of other countries". His chief interest was in Irish history. To him is due the honour of fixing the historic label "Scotia" where it belongs -- to Ireland. He called attention to the treasures of Irish literature preserved in the monasteries and libraries of Germany, and generously supplied many noted scholars, such as Ussher and John Colgan, with accurate copies of Irish manuscripts accompanied by critical emendations and commentaries.

His biographical notices of early Irish saints were utilized in the "Acta SS." What gave him the bent towards early Irish history seems to have been the publication in Frankfurt by William Camden of two works by Gerald of Wales, which he felt libelled Ireland and its people. In refutation he wrote his best-known work "Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias". After an absence of nearly thirty-eight years he returned to Ireland to join the staff at the Jesuit college recently established in Dublin. The college, however, was after a short time suppressed by the Government, and the property was confiscated and handed over to Trinity College. For some years he laboured in his native Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, mainly engaged in teaching catechism to children. In 1644 he went to Galway where he died.


*HOGAN, "Life of Father Stephen White, S.J." in "The Waterford Archaeological Journal", III (1897);
*Catholic|Stephen White

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