was from the Lorraine region of north eastern France, born at Bar-le-Duc, Meuse. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1673 and was ordained a priest in 1686. Two years later he set out for the Middle East on one of the many Jesuit ventures to find a land route to China. The project was aborted when the diplomat leading the venture was assassinated. Fr. Villotte stayed on in the area, working with the Armenian communities in Erzerom in Eastern Ottoman lands and Persia until 1708. He returned to Rome where he published his Commentarius in Evangelia, and Dictionnarium novum latinum-armenium. His diary was edited by Fr. Nicolas Frizon, s.j. and published in Paris in 1730. Villotte remaine in France, serving as Rector of the College at Bar-le-Duc, then at Epinal. His final years were spent as Superior of the Jesuit cpmmunity at Saint Michel.
Fr. Jacques Villotte, s.j. set out from the Middle East by ship from Marseille in 1688. He decided to keep a diary of his travels and his works. He went as a missionary, but he had to travel around so much that at one point he wrote: "I think I am a traveler, not a missionary." He spent 20 years in the region, working with the Armenian communities at Erzerom, in eastern Turkey, and at Julfa (Isfahan) in Persia. He records his impression of sights like Constantinople and Rhodes, as well as his adventures sailing the Black Sea and crossing the Syrian desert. He also offers details concerning his daily routine as a Catholic pries among Orthodox Armenians. His account, sparse and unvarnished, has a strong contemporary echo.
John J. Donohue, s.j., the translator, spent 46 years in the Middle East (Baghdad and Beirut) as a teacher and researcher. He first went to teach at Baghdad College in 1953. After expulsion from Baghdad he stopped off at St. Joseph University in Beirut where he taught and directed the Center for the Study of the Modern Arab World from 1971 to 2010. He is now at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA.