The Society of Jesus entered the Iberian Peninsula through Barcelona, when Antonio de Araoz and Pierre Favre forged links with the Viceroy of Catalonia, Francesc de Borja i Aragó, who would later become the Third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Our library is named after him.

The Library currently belongs to the Jesuits of Catalonia, which forms part of the ESADE Foundation. Through the ESADE Library, it forms part of the Universitat Ramon Llull network of libraries.

It is a library specialising in Theology, Philosophy, Biblical Studies and History of the Church, and has a large collection of works covering History, The Arts and The Humanities.

Historical antecedents

The Col.legi de Betlem [Bethlehem College] was founded in 1544 towards the top end of Barcelona’s Rambles avenue. It was an institution of higher education. All that remains of it today is the church. With the forcible transfer of Barcelona University to Cervera, ordered by Philip V after his brutal occupation of the city (1717), the College offered degrees in Theology and Philosophy, partly filling the gap left by the university. Its library grew greatly in both size and richness.

Charles III decreed the expulsion of the Jesuits from his domains in 1767. When Ferdinand VII allowed them to return, The Society of Jesus tried to recover its assets and libraries but to no avail. The Bethlehem College Library passed into the hands of the Diocesan Seminary of Barcelona, where it remains to this day.

The Viceroy of Catalonia, Francesc de Borja i Aragó, who would later become

the Third Superior General of the Society of Jesus, gives our library name.

Chronological history of the Library


Origin: The Bishop of Tortosa, Benet Vilamitjana, ceded a collection of some 3,000 books and premises to house it and the ‘Col•legi Màxim’ to The Society of Jesus. This collection was the seed of today’s library. The premises ceded for the purpose were the old Franciscan Convent de Jesús (Tortosa).

The large number of students in these faculties led to the Philosophy Faculty and its library being moved to the neighbouring village of Roquetes. The Biology Laboratory and the Chemical Laboratory were set up (the two were later to form the Sarrià Chemical Institute [IQS]). A Physics Laboratory was also established which, in the fullness of time, would become the Ebre Observatory we know today.

Consolidation and transfer to Sarrià: In the new premises — now named Col•legi Màxim Sant Ignasi [Saint Ignatius College], with three independent libraries being established — a central one, and one apiece for Theology and for Philosophy.


After the Second Vatican Council, the decision was taken to open the collection to outside users.

Move to Sant Cugat: Once the tough post-war period came to an end, the library and faculties moved to Sant Cugat del Vallès in what was to be their site until 2011. The new building was named Sant Francesc de Borja — what is today The Borja Centre.

The government passed a decree dissolving The Society of Jesus. Its premises in Sarrià with its college and boarding school were turned into a State school. However, the Central Library was sealed by Government Order and thus saved from being split up. The sheer size of the collection — some 75,000 volumes — made it impossible to send abroad apart from the few volumes needed to continue teaching tasks.


Work was begun on computer cataloguing of all new monographs. Cataloguing was also undertaken of some older works.

A collaboration agreement was signed with the Universitat Ramon Llull (URL).

Creation of a single catalogue for the whole of Universitat Ramon Llull (URL) was begun.


The Borja Library moved to the ESADE Campus in Sant Cugat.

A collaboration agreement was signed between The Society of Jesus (owner of The Borja Library) and the ESADE Foundation.

Library management and sites moved from the Fundació Jesús (Tortosa)

Jesús (Tortosa)
Only the Philosophy Library (1910-1915)
Sarrià (Barcelona)
Aalbeeck (Netherlands) – San Remo (Italy)
Dissolution of the Company (1932-1939)
Avigliana (Italy)
Dissolution of the Company (1932-1939)
Sarrià (Barcelona)
Return after the Civil War
Sant Cugat