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A Pictorial History of the Jesuits

St. Ignatius and Pope Paul III
St. Ignatius

The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola and since then has grown from the original seven to 24, 400 members today who work out of 1,825 houses in 112 countries. In the intervening 455 years many Jesuits became renowned for their sanctity (41 Saints and 285 Blesseds), for their scholarship in every conceivable field, for their explorations and discoveries, but especially for their schools. The Society is governed by General Congregations, the supreme legislative authority which meets occasionally. The present Superior General Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. is Dutch. Ignatius Loyola was a Spanish Basque soldier who underwent an extraordinary conversion while recuperating from a leg broken by a cannon ball in battle. He wrote down his experiences which he called his Spiritual Exercises and later he founded the >Society of Jesuswith the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540.

Visit the Jesuit Resource Page for even more links to things Jesuit.

Jesuit retreats are available throughout the world - wherever there are Jesuits
Jesuit retreat in Belgium Jesuit retreat in Yugoslavia
Jesuit retreat in Spain Jesuit retreat in Italy
Jesuit parish work throughout the world
Jesuit baptizing in ThailandWedding in Kenya
Catechists in Syria Jesuit retreat in Santo Domingo
Jesuit home for youth in BrazilJesuit camp in Ireland
Jesuits in a Spanish parish Loyola students in Bangalore, India

Few human societies have aroused such profound admiration as well as deep animosities as has the Society of Jesus. At a 1998 conference on Human rights and Prejudice, John Padberg traces the demonization of the Jesuits for the past four and a half centuries, focusing on the terrible accusations hurled at the Jesuits by careless historians of the 1894-1899 Dreyfus Case. His title is: The Demonization of the Jesuits.

The Jesuit provinces of the United States

From the very beginning, the Society served the Church with outstanding men: Doctors of the Church in Europe as well as missionaries in Asia, India, Africa and the Americas. Men like Robert Bellarmine and Peter Canisius spearheaded the Counter Reformation in Europe, courageous men like Edmund Campion assisted the Catholics in England suffering under the terrible Elizabethan persecutions and missionaries like deNobili Claver, González, deBrito, Brebeuf , and Kino brought the Gospel to the ends of the earth. No other order has more martyrs for the Faith.
Inigo of Loyola wounded in battle
who would later become known as St. Ignatius
Ignatius Loyola had gathered around him an energetic band of well-educated men who desired nothing more than to help others find God in their lives. It was Ignatius' original plan that they be roving missionaries such as Francis Xavier, who would preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was the hope of accomplishing the greater good. It soon became clear to Ignatius that colleges offered the greatest possible service to the church, by moral and religious instruction, by making devotional life accessible to the young and by teaching the Gospel message of service to others. From the very beginning these Jesuit schools became such an influential part of Catholic reform that this novel Jesuit enterprise was later called "a rebirth of the infant church". The genius and innovation Ignatius brought to education came from his >Spiritual Exercises whose object is to free a person from predispositions and biases, thus enabling free choices leading to happy, fulfilled lives.

Jesuits were always deeply involved in scholarship, in science and in exploration. By 1750, 30 of the world's 130 astronomical observatories were run by Jesuit astronomers and 35 lunar craters have been named to honor Jesuit scientists. The so-called "Gregorian" Calendar was the work of the Jesuit Christopher Clavius, the "most influential teacher of the Renaissance". Another Jesuit, Ferdinand Verbiest, determined the elusive Russo-Chinese border and until recent times no foreign name was as well known in China as the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, "Li-ma-teu", whose story is told by Jonathan Spence in his 1984 best seller. China has recently erected a monument to the Jesuit scientists of the 17th century - in spite of the fact that since 1948 120 Jesuits languished in Chinese prisons. By the way, no other religious order has spent as many man-years in jail as the Jesuit order.

Young Jesuits and their educational apostolates
Jesuit novices in Brazil Jesuit novices in Egypt
Jesuit school in Malta Jesuit school in India
Jesuit students in Japan Jesuit university in Brazil
Sophia Jesuit University in JapanJesuit Holy Week in Mexico
Jesuit transportation in GuyanaJesuit scholastics in Zaire

Five of the eight major rivers of the world were first charted by Jesuit explorers. Two of the statues in Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington are Jesuits: Eusebio Kino and Jacques Marquette. A 1978 Brazilian stamp celebrates the Jesuit founding of São Paulo. Spanish Jesuits went to Paraguay in 1607, built settlements which lasted from 1607 to 1767 for the indigenous people and taught them how to govern and defend themselves against the Spanish slave traders. They also taught agriculture, architecture, metallurgy, farming, music, ranching and printing. The Guaraní natives of Paraguay were printing books on art, literature as well as school texts in these settlements before the American revolution. This Utopia was suddenly crushed by the influential slave traders who were able to intimidate the Spanish crown into destroying the settlements. King Charles III expelled the Jesuits in 1767 when Paraguay boasted of 57 settlements serving 113,716 indigenous natives. These J esuit Settlementswere called "a triumph of humanity which seems to expiate the cruelties of the first conquerors" by Voltaire - hardly a friend of the Jesuits.
The history of Latin America would have been quite different if this form of settlement had been allowed to develop according to its own momentum, offering democracy a century before democracy came to North America.

Jesuit Brother Andrea Pozzo's famous ceiling painting in St. Ignatius Church in Rome
concerning the Jesuit effort to spread the Gospel throughtout the whole world

Jesuits were called the schoolmasters of Europe during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, not only because of their schools but also for their pre-eminence as scholars and the thousands of textbooks they composed. During their first two centuries the Jesuits were involved in an explosion of intellectual activity, and were engaged in over 740 schools.
The expulsion of the Jesuits from France
Then suddenly these were all lost in 1773. Pope Clement XIV yielding to pressure from the Bourbon courts, fearing the loss of his Papal States, and anticipating that other European countries would follow the example of Henry VIII (who abandoned the Catholic Church and took his whole country with him), issued his brief> Dominus ac Redemptor suppressing the Society of Jesus. This religious Society of 23,000 men dedicated to the service of the church was disbanded. The property of the Society's many schools was either sold or made over into a state controlled system. The Society's libraries were broken up and the books either burned, sold or snatched up by those who collaborated in the Suppression. As if unsure of himself the Pope promulgated the brief of suppression in an unusual manner which caused perplexing canonical difficulties. So when Catherine, Empress of Russia, rejected the brief outright and forbade its promulgation, 200 Jesuits continued to function in Russia.

Anthony Vieira: a colorful Jesuit of the 17th century who worked among the Amazon Indians
King John IV of Portugal considered this amazing polymath "o primeiro homen do mundo"
and prevented Jesuit General Carafa from dismissing Anthony from the Society

That Jesuits take their special vow of obedience to the pope quite seriously is evident from their immediate compliance with distasteful papal edicts. Clement XIV's Suppression is one example. Another occurred earlier in 1590 when Pope Sixtus V wanted to exclude Jesus from the official name of the Society. Jesuits immediately complied and offered alternate names but Sixtus died unexpectedly before his wish could be carried out. Included among these occasional papal intrusions in the Society's governance was Pope John Paul II's appointment of a delegate to govern the Society a decade ago during Superior General Arrupe's debilitating illness. So edified was Pope John Paul at the Society's immediate compliance that he later lavished extraordinary praise on the Jesuit Order.
In the center of Lisbon stands the statue of Pombal
who suppressed the Jesuits in Portugal in 1767.
The first Jesuit college - in Coimbra, Portugal

The Society was restored 41 years after the Suppression in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Although many of the men had died by then, the memory of their educational triumphs had not, and the new Society was flooded with requests to take over new colleges: in France alone, for instance, 86 schools were offered to the Jesuits. Since 1814 the Society has experienced amazing growth and has since then surpassed the apostolic breadth of the early Society in its educational, intellectual, pastoral and missionary endeavors.

As for education, today there is an extensive worldwide network of Jesuit schools educating one and a half million students. There are 90 Jesuit colleges in 27 countries. Here in the United States the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities have over a million living graduates. There are also 430 Jesuit high schools in 55 countries. In these schools the Ignatian system of values has attracted exceptionally competent faculty as well as highly qualified students. They form a Jesuit network, not that they are administered in the same way, but that they pursue the same goals and their success is evident in their graduates, men and women of vast and varied talent.

Two outstanding Jesuits of the last century were Teilhard de Chardin and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. (1881 - 1955) was a Jesuit paleontologist who attempted to interpret the findings of modern science in the light of the Christian message. People read in Teilhard a message of hope and optimism and his work was perhaps even more influential outside the Catholic Church than within it.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (1844 -1889) is a major figure in English literature. There is tablet in the floor of Westminster Abbey commemorating him among the luminaries of English literature. His innovations in meter and rhythm, his abnormally sensitive use of language and the depth and passion of his religious convictions made an immediate impact on the young poets of the 1920s.

Significant space in Archivum Historicum bibliographical material is found concerning Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), John Courtney Murray (1904-1967), and Karl Rahner (1904-1984).

Vincent A. Lapomarda has compiled a very accurate list of Jesuits who were victims of the Nazi regime Jesuit Victims of the Nazis: 83 were killed by Nazis, 43 died in concentration camps, and 26 died in captivity or of its results (such as Rupert Mayer). {cf. The Jesuits and the Third Reich by Vincent A. Lapomarda, Edwin Mellen Press. Queenston, Ontario, Canada (1989) BX 3715 L37.

This summary is quite inadequate, but it is impossible to do justice to the history of the Jesuits even in a long collection of volumes because of the diversity of the Jesuit apostolate which is spread over the whole globe, interacts with all elements of society and has inserted itself into practically every segment of human history.

Bibliography concerning the Jesuits

A recent Jesuit triumph and tragedy is represented here:
The father and husband of the two women murdered
with the six Jesuits by the El Salvador military
keeps a rose garden in their memory.

Library #
The Fifth Week by Willaim O' Malley BX 3755 .065
Wings of Eagles by Francis Corley BX 4655 .C6
Jesuits Robert Nash BX 3755 .N3 1956
I Lift My Lamp by John Leary BX3708.L4
Better a Day by John Leary BX3755.L4
In God's Army by C.C. Martindale
Companions of Jesus ed. by Hugh Kay
Saints of the Society by A Ambruzzi BX 3755 .A5
Jesuits by Robert Nash BX3755.N3
Jesuit Saints and Martyrs by Joseph Tylinda
Jesuit Yearbook BX 3701 .J53
Jesuits in Modern Times by John LaFarge BX3702.L3
The Jesuits: a History by Christopher Hollis
Twenty-one Saints by Aloysius Croft
TheJesuits in History by Martin Harney BX 3706 H3
Jesuit Relations F 1030.7 .Z 896
A History of the Society by William Bangert BX 3706.2 .B33
The Origen of the Jesuits by James Brodrick BX3706.B7
The Progress of the Jesuits by James Brodrick BX3706.B72

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