Literae annuae of the Telč College and House of the Third Probation

College and House of Third Probation in Telč

The monastic house in Telč was founded as a house of third probation, or tercians’ house, in which the last phase of the Jesuit formation took place, the so-called third probation. The first tercians who had recently finished their theological studies gathered there for the first time in the autumn of 1655. This house of third probation – which the Province used to establish ad hoc for more than 30 years in various colleges – was built thanks to a close relation between Františka Slavatová, born the Countess of Meggau, and the Society of Jesus. In 1650, she donated several town houses to the Order, situated in Telč near the Dean Church of St James the Greater. The foundation stone of the monastic house was laid on July 26, 1651.


At first, the Jesuits used the above-mentioned dean church for their divine services; in the middle of the 1660s, the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus was constructed. Thanks to continuous generous support from Countess Slavatová to the Jesuits a musical seminary was established in 1670 and also public schooling started to be provided by the Jesuits several years later, at first in one class and later in two classes that formed the lower gymnasium. Through this, the house adopted an educational mission of the Order and could continue to be called a college as well. The gymnasium became an institution encompassing all grades in 1709 – subjects of grammar and humanist classes were taught by three teachers; since 1703 it was located in a newly established independent building near the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Although the house in Telč was always supported mainly by the nobility, these mutual ties somehow chilled after the estate had been taken over by František Antonín of Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn in1702. Yet the more stood out the generosity of small fundators. Out of the townspeople of Telč we could name for instance the long-term mayor, Tomáš Hoda of Elborod, who inter alia provided financial means for teachers of higher classes at the gymnasium, or widow Justina de Gregorio, née Kapetová, whose gifts included for instance a fund for two Bohemian morning preachers. Minor local nobility got involved as well – we could mention for instance Matyáš Butz of Rolsperk, members of the Cantelmo family or the Regal Family of Kranichsfeld, whose member Maxmilián Arnošt donated his personal library to the Jesuits in Telč.

The support of lay clergymen was important as well, be it priests at patronage parishes of the college or administrators of more distant parishes who could be linked to the Jesuits of Telč for instance through studies at the local gymnasium. As an example, we could mention priest Kašpar Pokorný from Trštěnice who established three different foundations. This means that financially the college was quite well-off, although its economic management also faced a crisis in the forties. Despite this, there was a wave of equipment renewal in the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus and construction works done in a residence in Knínice which took place in the last decades of the existence of the order.

The bull of Pope Clement XIV Dominus ac Redemptor noster dissolved the Society of Jesus and upon the arrival of the liquidation committee on November 30, 1773, the probation house in Telč ceased to exist as well. The gymnasium was closed down in March 1774. Yet most members of the small Telč community stayed in the town or nearby. The younger Jesuits continued in their services, for instance as preachers or sextons, while the older ones lived from their pensions. Jesuits from the renewed Society of Jesus did not return to Telč.

Annual Reports and Excerpts from These Reports

Annual reports (lit(t)erae annuae, or simply annuae) for the Telč college usually had two parts that could be written by different authors. Reports on the state of the college – which also included information pertaining to the residence and place of pilgrimage in Knínice – are usually briefer. Their content corresponds to basic thematic groups as defined for the annual reports in paragraphs 28 and 29 of the so-called formulae scribendi, which is part of the regulations of the Jesuit Order. Texts devoted to missionary activities of fathers of the third probation are usually more extensive – they include more general descriptions of aims and results of individual journeys (names of particular missionaries are not mentioned) as well as descriptions of several model stories illustrating the missionary activities.


Texts of the reports were probably formulated at the very beginning of the following year and several clean copies were made. At first, there were probably only two copies, but since 1663 at the very latest, four copies were made — one of them was deposited at the college and the remaining ones were sent to Prague where they were bound and either transported to the Generalate or distributed between the individual houses of the Province according to a fixed plan. Copies sent to Rome (manuscripts labelled with the letter R) were deposited in the Archives of the Generalate (nowadays Achivum Romanaum Societaits Iesu); one of the convolutes travelling across the Province ended its journey in the Prague Archive of the Province (manuscripts labelled with the letter P) and the second one in Brno in the archive of the novitiate (manuscripts labelled with the letter B). Nowadays, many of the volumes can be found in the National Library in Prague, in the Austrian National Library and in the Olomouc Research Library.

A collection of annual reports that were originally deposited in the archive of the Telč College (manuscripts labelled with the letter T) is nowadays deposited in the ÖNB as part of a convolute into which ten files of texts from the archive of the college with a summary title Literae annuae. Historia Domus (Scr. 20 N. 1–10) were additionally bound. The convolute contains annual reports for the years 1656–1740 (although reports for the following years are missing: 1659, 1661, 1667–1669, 1672–1675, 1679, 1681, 1684, 1686–1687, 1691, 1693, 1708–1709, 1727–1728, 1734, 1736–1738); some of them are probably incomplete (for instance for the years 1704, 1719, 1735 and 1740). Clean copies prevail among the manuscripts, but variously edited drafts or pairs of a draft and a clean copy can be found as well.

In addition to the annual reports, the file also contains three so-called supplementa historiae, texts pertaining to the history of the college for the years 1729–1733 and materials for provincial annals for the years 1749, 1751, 1757. File 9 of the same convolute also pertains to the annual reports – it contains several fragments of brief texts written by individual Jesuits for the rector as materials for annual reports and eloges. Although it is not part of the literae annuae files, a report for the year 1676 including an extensive eloge of foundress Františka Slavatová is preserved in the Moravian Land Archives.

Entry to the digital edition - a guide to the individual years:

Year Edition Type
1702 full textually critical edition
1729 interpretative edition with a reduced critical apparatus
1719 Coming soon
1724 Coming soon