🤩 Discover new information from across the web

Society of Jesus

Male religious congregation of the Roman Catholic Church

Top 10 Society of Jesus related articles

Society of Jesus
Official Christogram
AbbreviationS.J.
Formation27 September 1540; 480 years ago (1540-09-27)
FoundersIgnatius of Loyola
Francis Xavier
Peter Faber
Alfonso Salmeron
Diego Laínez
Nicholas Bobadilla
Simão Rodrigues
Founded atParis, France
officialized in Rome, Lazio (former Central Italian region of Latium), Italy
TypeOrder of clerics regular of pontifical right (for Men)
HeadquartersGeneral Curia
Borgo S. Spirito 4, C.P. 6139, 00195 Roma-Prati, Italy
Coordinates41°54′4.9″N 12°27′38.2″E / 41.901361°N 12.460611°E / 41.901361; 12.460611Coordinates: 41°54′4.9″N 12°27′38.2″E / 41.901361°N 12.460611°E / 41.901361; 12.460611
Members
16,378[1]
Arturo Sosa
Patron saint
Saint Joseph
Blessed Virgin Mary (under the title Madonna Della Strada)
Websitewww.jesuits.global

The Society of Jesus (SJ; Latin: Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and six companions with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits (/ˈɛzjuɪt/; Latin: Iesuitæ).[2] The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.

The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General.[3][4] The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome.[5] The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.

Members of the Society of Jesus are expected to accept orders to go anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. This was so because St. Ignatius, its leading founder, was a nobleman who had a military background. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God,[a] to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith, and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine".[7] Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers",[8]"God's marines" , [9] or "the Company".[10] The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and, later, in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

Society of Jesus Intro articles: 9

History

Foundation

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a Navarre nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".

On 15 August 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard from the Basque city of Loyola, and six others mostly of Castilian origin, all students at the University of Paris,[11] met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, now Saint Pierre de Montmartre, to pronounce the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.[12] Ignatius' six companions were: Francisco Xavier from Navarre (modern Spain), Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Castile (modern Spain), Peter Faber from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal.[13] The meeting has been commemorated in the Martyrium of Saint Denis, Montmartre. They called themselves the Compañía de Jesús, and also Amigos en El Señor or "Friends in the Lord", because they felt "they were placed together by Christ." The name "company" had echoes of the military (reflecting perhaps Ignatius' background as Captain in the Spanish army) as well as of discipleship (the "companions" of Jesus). The Spanish "company" would be translated into Latin as societas like in socius, a partner or comrade. From this came "Society of Jesus" (SJ) by which they would be known more widely.[14]

Religious orders established in the medieval era were named after particular men: Francis of Assisi (Franciscans), Domingo de Guzmán, later canonized as St Dominic (Dominicans); and Augustine of Hippo (Augustinians). Ignatius of Loyola and his followers appropriated the name of Jesus for their new order, provoking resentment by other orders who considered it presumptuous. The resentment was recorded by Jesuit José de Acosta of a conversation with the Archbishop of Santo Domingo.[15] In the words of one historian: "The use of the name Jesus gave great offense. Both on the Continent and in England, it was denounced as blasphemous; petitions were sent to kings and to civil and ecclesiastical tribunals to have it changed; and even Pope Sixtus V had signed a Brief to do away with it." But nothing came of all the opposition; there were already congregations named after the Trinity and as "God's daughters".[16]

In 1537, the seven travelled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests. These initial steps led to the official founding in 1540.

They were ordained in Venice by the bishop of Arbe (24 June). They devoted themselves to preaching and charitable work in Italy. The Italian War of 1535-1538 renewed between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Venice, the Pope, and the Ottoman Empire, had rendered any journey to Jerusalem impossible.

Again in 1540, they presented the project to Paul III. After months of dispute, a congregation of cardinals reported favourably upon the Constitution presented, and Paul III confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae ("To the Government of the Church Militant"), on 27 September 1540. This is the founding document of the Society of Jesus as an official Catholic religious order. Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General. Paul III's bull had limited the number of its members to sixty. This limitation was removed through the bull Exposcit debitum of Julius III in 1550.[17]

Ignatius laid out his original vision for the new order in the "Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus",[18] which is "the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent official documents were elaborations and to which they had to conform".[19] He ensured that his formula was contained in two papal bulls signed by Pope Paul III in 1540 and by Pope Julius III in 1550.[18] The formula expressed the nature, spirituality, community life, and apostolate of the new religious order. Its famous opening statement echoed Ignatius' military background:

A fresco depicting Ignatius receiving the papal bull from Pope Paul III was created after 1743 by Johann Christoph Handke in the Church of Our Lady Of the Snow in Olomouc

Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the Name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures and any other ministration whatsoever of the Word of God, and further by means of retreats, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments. Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals, and indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.[20]

Jesuits at Akbar's court in India, c. 1605

In fulfilling the mission of the "Formula of the Institute of the Society", the first Jesuits concentrated on a few key activities. First, they founded schools throughout Europe. Jesuit teachers were trained in both classical studies and theology, and their schools reflected this. Second, they sent out missionaries across the globe to evangelize those peoples who had not yet heard the Gospel, founding missions in widely diverse regions such as modern-day Paraguay, Japan, Ontario, and Ethiopia. One of the original seven arrived in India already in 1541.[21] Finally, though not initially formed for the purpose, they aimed to stop Protestantism from spreading and to preserve communion with Rome and the successor of Saint Peter. The zeal of the Jesuits overcame the movement toward Protestantism in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and southern Germany.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1553, which created a centralised organization and stressed acceptance of any mission to which the Pope might call them.[22][23][24] His main principle became the unofficial Jesuit motto:Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ("For the greater glory of God"). This phrase is designed to reflect the idea that any work that is not evil can be meritorious for the spiritual life if it is performed with this intention, even things normally considered of little importance.[17]

The Society of Jesus is classified among institutes as a mendicant order of clerks regular, that is, a body of priests organized for apostolic work, following a religious rule, and relying on alms, or donations, for support.

The term Jesuit (of 15th-century origin, meaning one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus) was first applied to the society in reproach (1544–1552).[25] The term was never used by Ignatius of Loyola, but over time, members and friends of the society adopted the name with a positive meaning.[16]

Early works

The Jesuits were founded just before the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ensuing Counter-Reformation that would introduce reforms within the Catholic Church, and so counter the Protestant Reformation throughout Catholic Europe.

Ignatius and the early Jesuits did recognize, though, that the hierarchical church was in dire need of reform. Some of their greatest struggles were against corruption, venality, and spiritual lassitude within the Catholic Church. Ignatius insisted on a high level of academic preparation for the clergy in contrast to the relatively poor education of much of the clergy of his time. And the Jesuit vow against "ambitioning prelacies" can be seen as an effort to counteract another problem evidenced in the preceding century.

Ignatius and the Jesuits who followed him believed that the reform of the church had to begin with the conversion of an individual's heart. One of the main tools the Jesuits have used to bring about this conversion is the Ignatian retreat, called the Spiritual Exercises. During a four-week period of silence, individuals undergo a series of directed meditations on the purpose of life and contemplations on the life of Christ. They meet regularly with a spiritual director who guides their choice of exercises and helps them to develop a more discerning love for Christ.

The retreat follows a "Purgative-Illuminative-Unitive" pattern in the tradition of the spirituality of John Cassian and the Desert Fathers. Ignatius' innovation was to make this style of contemplative mysticism available to all people in active life. Further, he used it as a means of rebuilding the spiritual life of the church. The Exercises became both the basis for the training of Jesuits and one of the essential ministries of the order: giving the exercises to others in what became known as "retreats".

The Jesuits' contributions to the late Renaissance were significant in their roles both as a missionary order and as the first religious order to operate colleges and universities as a principal and distinct ministry. By the time of Ignatius' death in 1556, the Jesuits were already operating a network of 74 colleges on three continents. A precursor to liberal education, the Jesuit plan of studies incorporated the Classical teachings of Renaissance humanism into the Scholastic structure of Catholic thought.

In addition to the teachings of faith, the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum (1599) would standardize the study of Latin, Greek, classical literature, poetry, and philosophy as well as non-European languages, sciences, and the arts. Furthermore, Jesuit schools encouraged the study of vernacular literature and rhetoric, and thereby became important centres for the training of lawyers and public officials.

The Jesuit schools played an important part in winning back to Catholicism a number of European countries which had for a time been predominantly Protestant, notably Poland and Lithuania. Today, Jesuit colleges and universities are located in over one hundred nations around the world. Under the notion that God can be encountered through created things and especially art, they encouraged the use of ceremony and decoration in Catholic ritual and devotion. Perhaps as a result of this appreciation for art, coupled with their spiritual practice of "finding God in all things", many early Jesuits distinguished themselves in the visual and performing arts as well as in music. The theater was a form of expression especially prominent in Jesuit schools.[26]

Jesuit priests often acted as confessors to kings during the early modern period. They were an important force in the Counter-Reformation and in the Catholic missions, in part because their relatively loose structure (without the requirements of living and celebration of the Liturgy of Hours in common) allowed them to be flexible and meet diverse needs arising at the time.[27]

Expansion

Jesuit missionary, painting from 1779
Bell made in Portugal for Nanbanji Church run by Jesuits in Japan, 1576–1587

After much training and experience in theology, Jesuits went across the globe in search of converts to Christianity. Despite their dedication, they had little success in Asia, except in the Philippines. For instance, early missions in Japan resulted in the government granting the Jesuits the feudal fiefdom of Nagasaki in 1580. This was removed in 1587 due to fears over their growing influence.[28] Jesuits did, however, have much success in Latin America. Their ascendancy in societies in the Americas accelerated during the seventeenth century, wherein Jesuits created new missions in Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia; as early as 1603, there were 345 Jesuit priests in Mexico alone.[29]

Francis Xavier, one of the original companions of Loyola, arrived in Goa, in Portuguese India, in 1541 to consider evangelical service in the Indies. In a 1545 letter to John III of Portugal, he requested an Inquisition to be installed in Goa (see Goa Inquisition). He died in China after a decade of evangelism in Southern India. In Goa, the Inquisition also prosecuted violators of prohibitions against the observance of Hindu or Muslim rites or festivals, or interfered with Portuguese attempts to convert non-Christians to Catholicism. The Inquisition was the judicial system over Indian Catholics, Hindus and of Portuguese settlers from Europe (mostly New Christians and Jews). The Inquisition laws made reconversion to Hinduism, Islam and Judaism and the use of the Konkani language a criminal offense. The inquisition was also a method of confiscating property and enriching the Inquisitors. Additionally, Hindu children whose father had died were required to be handed over to the Jesuits for conversion to Christianity. As a result of such oppression, Hindus, and later Christians and Muslims, fled Goa in large numbers to the surrounding regions that were not in the control of the Jesuits and Portuguese India.

The Portuguese Jesuit António de Andrade founded a mission in Western Tibet in 1624. Two Jesuit missionaries, Johann Grueber and Albert Dorville, reached Lhasa, in Tibet, in 1661. The Italian Jesuit Ippolito Desideri established a new Jesuit mission in Lhasa and Central Tibet (1716–21) and gained an exceptional mastery of Tibetan language and culture, writing a long and very detailed account of the country and its religion as well as treatises in Tibetan that attempted to refute key Buddhist ideas and establish the truth of Catholic Christianity.

The Spanish missionary José de Anchieta was, together with Manuel da Nóbrega, the first Jesuit that Ignacio de Loyola sent to America.

Jesuit missions in America became controversial in Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal where they were seen as interfering with the proper colonial enterprises of the royal governments. The Jesuits were often the only force standing between the Native Americans and slavery. Together throughout South America but especially in present-day Brazil and Paraguay, they formed Christian Native American city-states, called "reductions". These were societies set up according to an idealized theocratic model. The efforts of Jesuits like Antonio Ruiz de Montoya to protect the natives from enslavement by Spanish and Portuguese colonizers would contribute to the call for the society's suppression. Jesuit priests such as Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded several towns in Brazil in the 16th century, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and were very influential in the pacification, religious conversion, and education of Indian nations. They also built schools, organized people into villages, and created a writing system for the local languages of Brazil.[29] José de Anchieta and Manuel da Nóbrega were the first Jesuits that Ignacio de Loyola sent to America.[30]

Jesuit scholars working in foreign missions were very dedicated in studying the local languages and strove to produce Latinized grammars and dictionaries. This included: Japanese (see Nippo jisho, also known as Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam, Vocabulary of the Japanese Language, a Japanese–Portuguese dictionary written 1603); Vietnamese (Portuguese missionaries created the Vietnamese alphabet,[31][32] which was later formalized by Avignon missionary Alexandre de Rhodes with his 1651 trilingual dictionary); Tupi (the main language of Brazil); and the pioneering study of Sanskrit in the West by Jean François Pons in the 1740s.

Under Portuguese royal patronage, Jesuits thrived in Goa and until 1759 successfully expanded their activities to education and healthcare. In 1594 they founded the first Roman-style academic institution in the East, St. Paul Jesuit College in Macau, China. Founded by Alessandro Valignano, it had a great influence on the learning of Eastern languages (Chinese and Japanese) and culture by missionary Jesuits, becoming home to the first western sinologists such as Matteo Ricci. Jesuit efforts in Goa were interrupted by the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portuguese territories in 1759 by the powerful Marquis of Pombal, Secretary of State in Portugal.[33]

Jesuit missionaries were active among indigenous peoples in New France in North America, many of them compiling dictionaries or glossaries of the First Nations and Native American languages they had learned. For instance, before his death in 1708, Jacques Gravier, vicar general of the Illinois Mission in the Mississippi River valley, compiled a Kaskaskia Illinois–French dictionary, considered the most extensive among works of the missionaries.[34] Extensive documentation was left in the form of The Jesuit Relations, published annually from 1632 until 1673.

China

Matteo Ricci (left) and Xu Guangqi in the 1607 Chinese publication of Euclid's Elements
Confucius, Philosopher of the Chinese, or, Chinese Knowledge Explained in Latin, published by Philippe Couplet, Prospero Intorcetta, Christian Herdtrich, and François de Rougemont at Paris in 1687
A map of the 200-odd Jesuit churches and missions established across China c. 1687.

The Jesuits first entered China through the Portuguese settlement on Macau, where they settled on Green Island and founded St. Paul's College.

The Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. The scientific revolution brought by the Jesuits coincided with a time when scientific innovation had declined in China:

[The Jesuits] made efforts to translate western mathematical and astronomical works into Chinese and aroused the interest of Chinese scholars in these sciences. They made very extensive astronomical observation and carried out the first modern cartographic work in China. They also learned to appreciate the scientific achievements of this ancient culture and made them known in Europe. Through their correspondence European scientists first learned about the Chinese science and culture.[35]

For over a century, Jesuits like Michele Ruggieri, Matteo Ricci,[36] Diego de Pantoja, Philippe Couplet, Michal Boym, and François Noël refined translations and disseminated Chinese knowledge, culture, history, and philosophy to Europe. Their Latin works popularized the name "Confucius" and had considerable influence on the Deists and other Enlightenment thinkers, some of whom were intrigued by the Jesuits' attempts to reconcile Confucian morality with Catholicism.[37]

Upon the arrival of the Franciscans and other monastic orders, Jesuit accommodation of Chinese culture and rituals led to the long-running Chinese Rites controversy. Despite the personal testimony of the Kangxi Emperor and many Jesuit converts that Chinese veneration of ancestors and Confucius was a nonreligious token of respect, Pope Clement XI's papal decree Cum Deus Optimus... ruled that such behavior constituted impermissible forms of idolatry and superstition in 1704;[38] his legate Tournon and the Bishop of Fujian, tasked with presenting this finding to the Kangxi Emperor, displayed such extreme ignorance that the emperor mandated the expulsion of Christian missionaries unable to abide by the terms of Ricci's Chinese catechism.[39][40][41][42] Tournon's summary and automatic excommunication for any violators of Clement's decree[43]—upheld by the 1715 bull Ex Illa Die...—led to the swift collapse of all the missions in China;[40] the last Jesuits were finally expelled after 1721.[44]

Canada

Bressani map of 1657 depicts the martyrdom of Jean de Brébeuf

During the French colonisation of New France in the 17th century, Jesuits played an active role in North America. When Samuel de Champlain established the foundations of the French colony at Québec, he was aware of native tribes who possessed their own languages, customs, and traditions. These natives that inhabited modern day Ontario, Québec, and the areas around Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay were the Montagnais, the Algonquins, and the Huron.[45] Champlain believed that these had souls to be saved, so in 1614 he initially obtained the Recollects, a reform branch of the Franciscans in France, to convert the native inhabitants.[46] In 1624 the French Recollects realized the magnitude of their task[47] and sent a delegate to France to invite the Society of Jesus to help with this mission. The invitation was accepted, and Jesuits Jean de Brébeuf, Ennemond Masse, and Charles Lalemant arrived in Quebec in 1625.[48] Lalemant is considered to have been the first author of one of the Jesuit Relations of New France, which chronicled their evangelization during the seventeenth century.

The Jesuits became involved in the Huron mission in 1626 and lived among the Huron peoples. Brébeuf learned the native language and created the first Huron language dictionary. Outside conflict forced the Jesuits to leave New France in 1629 when Quebec was captured by the Kirke brothers under the English flag. But in 1632 Quebec was returned to the French under the Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye and the Jesuits returned to Huron territory, modern Huronia.[49]

In 1639, Jesuit Jerome Lalemant decided that the missionaries among the Hurons needed a local residence and established Sainte-Marie, which expanded into a living replica of European society.[50] It became the Jesuit headquarters and an important part of Canadian history. Throughout most of the 1640s the Jesuits had great success, establishing five chapels in Huronia and baptising over one thousand Huron natives.[51] However, as the Jesuits began to expand westward they encountered more Iroquois natives, rivals of the Hurons. The Iroquois grew jealous of the Hurons' wealth and fur trade system, began to attack Huron villages in 1648. They killed missionaries and burned villages, and the Hurons scattered. Both Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were tortured and killed in the Iroquois raids; they have been canonized as martyrs in the Catholic Church.[52] With the knowledge of the invading Iroquois, the Jesuit Paul Ragueneau burned down Sainte-Marie instead of allowing the Iroquois the satisfaction of destroying it. By late June 1649, the French and some Christian Hurons built Sainte-Marie II on Christian Island (Isle de Saint-Joseph). However, facing starvation, lack of supplies, and constant threats of Iroquois attack, the small Sainte-Marie II was abandoned in June 1650; the remaining Hurons and Jesuits departed for Quebec and Ottawa.[52] After a series of epidemics, beginning in 1634, some Huron began to mistrust the Jesuits and accused them of being sorcerers casting spells from their books.[53] As a result of the Iroquois raids and outbreak of disease, many missionaries, traders, and soldiers died.[54] Today, the Huron tribe, also known as the Wyandot, have a First Nations reserve in Quebec, Canada, and three major settlements in the United States.[55]

After the collapse of the Huron nation, the Jesuits were to undertake the task of converting the Iroquois, something they had attempted in 1642 with little success. In 1653 the Iroquois nation had a fallout with the Dutch. They then signed a peace treaty with the French and a mission was established. The Iroquois took the treaty lightly and soon turned on the French again. In 1658, the Jesuits were having very little success and were under constant threat of being tortured or killed,[54] but continued their effort until 1687 when they abandoned their permanent posts in the Iroquois homeland.[56]

By 1700, Jesuits turned to maintaining Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa without establishing new posts.[57] During the Seven Years' War, Quebec fell to the English in 1759 and New France was under British control. The English barred the immigration of more Jesuits to New France. By 1763, there were only twenty-one Jesuits stationed in New France. By 1773 only eleven Jesuits remained. During the same year the English crown laid claim to New France and declared that the Society of Jesus in New France was dissolved.[58]

The dissolution of the Order left in place substantial estates and investments, amounting to an income of approximately £5,000 a year, and the Council for the Affairs of the Province of Quebec, later succeeded by the Legislative Assembly of Quebec, assumed the task of allocating the funds to suitable recipients, chiefly schools.[59]

The Jesuit mission in Quebec was re-established in 1842. There were a number of Jesuit colleges founded in the decades following; one of these colleges evolved into present-day Laval University.[60]

United States

Ecuador

Church of the Society of Jesus (Spanish: La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús), known colloquially as la Compañía, is a Jesuit church in Quito, Ecuador. It is among the best-known churches in Quito because of its large central nave, which is profusely decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster and wood carvings. Inspired by two Roman Jesuit churches – the Chiesa del Gesù (1580) and the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola (1650) – la Compañía is one of the most significant works of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America and Quito's most ornate church.

Over the 160 years of its construction, the architects of la Compañía incorporated elements of four architectural styles, although the Baroque is the most prominent. Mudéjar (Moorish) influence is seen in the geometrical figures on the pillars; the Churrigueresque characterizes much of the ornate decoration, especially in the interior walls; finally the Neoclassical style adorns the Chapel of Saint Mariana de Jesús (in early years a winery).

Mexico

Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchoó in the 18th century, the first permanent Jesuit mission in Baja California, established by Juan María de Salvatierra in 1697
Main altar of the Jesuit colegio in Tepozotlan, now the Museo Nacional del Virreinato
Mexican-born Jesuit Francisco Clavijero (1731–1787) wrote an important history of Mexico.

The Jesuits in New Spain distinguished themselves in several ways. They had high standards for acceptance to the order and many years of training. They attracted the patronage of elite families whose sons they educated in rigorous newly founded Jesuit colegios ("colleges"), including Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo, Colegio de San Ildefonso, and the Colegio de San Francisco Javier, Tepozotlan. Those same elite families hoped that a son with a vocation to the priesthood would be accepted as a Jesuit. Jesuits were also zealous in evangelization of the indigenous, particularly on the northern frontiers.

To support their colegios and members of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits acquired landed estates that were run with the best-practices for generating income in that era. A number of these haciendas were donated by wealthy elites. The donation of a hacienda to the Jesuits was the spark igniting a conflict between seventeenth-century bishop of Puebla Don Juan de Palafox and the Jesuit colegio in that city. Since the Jesuits resisted paying the tithe on their estates, this donation effectively took revenue out of the church hierarchy's pockets by removing it from the tithe rolls.[61]

Many of Jesuit haciendas were huge, with Palafox asserting that just two colleges owned 300,000 head of sheep, whose wool was transformed locally in Puebla to cloth; six sugar plantations worth a million pesos and generating an income of 100,000 pesos.[61] The immense Jesuit hacienda of Santa Lucía produced pulque, the fermented juice of the agave cactus whose main consumers were the lower classes and Indians in Spanish cities. Although most haciendas had a free work force of permanent or seasonal labourers, the Jesuit haciendas in Mexico had a significant number of black slaves.[62]

The Jesuits operated their properties as an integrated unit with the larger Jesuit order; thus revenues from haciendas funded their colegios. Jesuits did significantly expand missions to the indigenous in the northern frontier area and a number were martyred, but the crown supported those missions.[61] Mendicant orders that had real estate were less economically integrated, so that some individual houses were wealthy while others struggled economically. The Franciscans, who were founded as an order embracing poverty, did not accumulate real estate, unlike the Augustinians and Dominicans in Mexico.

The Jesuits engaged in conflict with the episcopal hierarchy over the question of payment of tithes, the ten percent tax on agriculture levied on landed estates for support of the church hierarchy from bishops and cathedral chapters to parish priests. Since the Jesuits were the largest religious order holding real estate, surpassing the Dominicans and Augustinians who had accumulated significant property, this was no small matter.[61] They argued that they were exempt, due to special pontifical privileges.[63] In the mid-seventeenth century, bishop of Puebla, Don Juan de Palafox took on the Jesuits over this matter and was so soundly defeated that he was recalled to Spain, where he became the bishop of the minor diocese of Osma.

As elsewhere in the Spanish empire, the Jesuits were expelled from Mexico in 1767. Their haciendas were sold off and their colegios and missions in Baja California were taken over by other orders.[64] Exiled Mexican-born Jesuit Francisco Javier Clavijero wrote an important history of Mexico while in Italy, a basis for creole patriotism. Andrés Cavo also wrote an important text on Mexican history that Carlos María de Bustamante published in the early nineteenth-century.[65] An earlier Jesuit who wrote about the history of Mexico was Diego Luis de Motezuma (1619–99), a descendant of the Aztec monarchs of Tenochtitlan. Motezuma's Corona mexicana, o Historia de los nueve Motezumas was completed in 1696. He "aimed to show that Mexican emperors were a legitimate dynasty in the 17th-century in the European sense".[66][67]

The Jesuits were allowed to return to Mexico in 1840 when General Antonio López de Santa Anna was once more president of Mexico. Their re-introduction to Mexico was "to assist in the education of the poorer classes and much of their property was restored to them".[68]

Northern Spanish America

Acosta's Historia natural y moral de las Indias (1590) text on the Americas

The Jesuits arrived in the Viceroyalty of Peru by 1571; it was a key area of the Spanish empire, with not only dense indigenous populations but also huge deposits of silver at Potosí. A major figure in the first wave of Jesuits was José de Acosta (1540–1600), whose book Historia natural y moral de las Indias (1590) introduced Europeans to Spain's American empire via fluid prose and keen observation and explanation, based on fifteen years in Peru and some time in New Spain (Mexico). Viceroy of Peru Don Francisco de Toledo urged the Jesuits to evangelize the indigenous peoples of Peru, wanting to put them in charge of parishes, but Acosta adhered to the Jesuit position that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of bishops and to catechize in Indian parishes would bring them into conflict with the bishops. For that reason, the Jesuits in Peru focused on education of elite men rather than the indigenous populations.[69]

Peter Claver ministering to African slaves at Cartagena

To minister to newly arrived African slaves, Alonso de Sandoval (1576–1651) worked at the port of Cartagena de Indias. Sandoval wrote about this ministry in De instauranda Aethiopum salute (1627),[70] describing how he and his assistant Pedro Claver, later canonized, met slave transport ships in the harbour, went below decks where 300–600 slaves were chained, and gave physical aid with water, while introducing the Africans to Christianity. In his treatise, he did not condemn slavery or the ill-treatment of slaves, but sought to instruct fellow Jesuits to this ministry and describe how he catechized the slaves.[71]

Rafael Ferrer was the first Jesuit of Quito to explore and found missions in the upper Amazon regions of South America from 1602 to 1610, which belonged to the Audiencia (high court) of Quito that was a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until it was transferred to the newly created Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. In 1602, Ferrer began to explore the Aguarico, Napo, and Marañon rivers (Sucumbios region, in what is today Ecuador and Peru), and between 1604 and 1605 set up missions among the Cofane natives. He was martyred by an apostate native in 1610.

In 1639, the Audiencia of Quito organized an expedition to renew its exploration of the Amazon river and the Quito Jesuit (Jesuita Quiteño) Cristóbal de Acuña was a part of this expedition. The expedition disembarked from the Napo river 16 February 1639 and arrived in what is today Pará Brazil on the banks of the Amazon river on 12 December 1639. In 1641, Acuña published in Madrid a memoir of his expedition to the Amazon river entitled Nuevo Descubrimiento del gran rio de las Amazonas, which for academics became a fundamental reference on the Amazon region.

In 1637, the Jesuits Gaspar Cugia and Lucas de la Cueva from Quito began establishing the Mainas missions in territories on the banks of the Marañón River, around the Pongo de Manseriche region, close to the Spanish settlement of Borja. Between 1637 and 1652 there were 14 missions established along the Marañón River and its southern tributaries, the Huallaga and the Ucayali rivers. Jesuit Lucas de la Cueva and Raimundo de Santacruz opened up two new routes of communication with Quito, through the Pastaza and Napo rivers.

Samuel Fritz's 1707 map showing the Amazon and the Orinoco

Between 1637 and 1715, Samuel Fritz founded 38 missions along the length of the Amazon river, between the Napo and Negro rivers, that were called the Omagua Missions. These missions were continually attacked by the Brazilian Bandeirantes beginning in the year 1705. In 1768, the only Omagua mission that was left was San Joaquin de Omaguas, since it had been moved to a new location on the Napo river away from the Bandeirantes.

In the immense territory of Maynas, the Jesuits of Quito made contact with a number of indigenous tribes which spoke 40 different languages, and founded a total of 173 Jesuit missions encompassing 150,000 inhabitants. Because of the constant epidemics (smallpox and measles) and warfare with other tribes and the Bandeirantes, the total number of Jesuit Missions were reduced to 40 by 1744. At the time when the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish America in 1767, the Jesuits of Quito registered 36 missions run by 25 Jesuits of Quito in the Audiencia of Quito – 6 in the Napo and Aguarico Missions and 19 in the Pastaza and Iquitos Missions, with the population at 20,000 inhabitants.

Paraguay

The first Jesuits arrived in 1588, and in 1610 Philip III proclaimed that only the "sword of the word" should be used to subdue Paraguayan Indians, mostly Guarani. The church granted Jesuits extensive powers to phase out the encomienda system of forced labor, angering settlers dependent on a continuing supply of Indian labor and concubines. The first Jesuit mission in the Paraguay area (which encompassed the border regions of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil) was founded in 1609. By 1732, the Jesuits had gathered into 30 missions or reductions a total of 141,382 Guarani. Due to disease, European politics, and internal discord, the population in the missions declined afterwards.[72] At their apogee, the Jesuits dreamed of a Jesuit empire that would stretch from the Paraguay-Paraná confluence to the coast and back to the Paraná headwaters.[73]

In the early years the new Jesuit reductions were threatened by the slave-raiding bandeirantes. The bandeirantes captured Indians and sold them as slaves to planters in Brazil. Having depleted the Indian population near Sâo Paulo, they discovered the richly populated reductions. The Spanish authorities chose not to defend the settlements, and the Jesuits and their thousands of neophytes thus had little means to protect themselves. Thousands of Guarani were captured by the bandeirantes before they were organized and armed by the Jesuits. A Guarani army defeated the slave raiders at the battle of Mbororé. Subsequently, the viceroy of Peru conceded the right of bearing arms to the Guarani. Thereafter, well-trained and highly motivated Indian units were able to defend themselves from slavers and other threats.[74] The victory at Mbororé set the stage for the golden age of the Jesuits in Paraguay. Life in the reductions offered the Guaraní higher living standards, protection from settlers, and physical security. These reductions, which became quite wealthy, exported goods, and supplied Indian armies to the Spanish on many occasions.[73]

The reductions, where the Jesuits created orchestras, musical ensembles, and actors' troupes, and in which virtually all the profits derived from Indian labor were distributed to the labourers, earned praise from some of the leaders of the French enlightenment, who were not predisposed to favour Jesuits. "By means of religion," d'Alembert wrote, "the Jesuits established a monarchical authority in Paraguay, founded solely on their powers of persuasion and on their lenient methods of government. Masters of the country, they rendered happy the people under their sway; they succeeded in subduing them without ever having recourse to force." And Jesuit-educated Voltaire called the Jesuit government "a triumph of humanity".[75]

Because of their success, the Paraguayan Jesuits gained many enemies, and the Reductions fell prey to changing times. During the 1720s and 1730s, Paraguayan settlers rebelled against Jesuit privileges in the Revolt of the Comuneros and against the government that protected them. Although this revolt failed, it was one of the earliest and most serious uprisings against Spanish authority in the New World and caused the crown to question its continued support for the Jesuits. The Jesuit-inspired War of the Seven Reductions (1750–61) increased sentiment in Madrid for suppressing this "empire within an empire".

Ruins of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana mission in Paraguay, founded by Jesuits in 1706

The Spanish king Charles III (1759–88) expelled the Jesuits in 1767 from Spain and its territories. Within a few decades of the expulsion, most of what the Jesuits had accomplished was lost. The missions were mismanaged and abandoned by the Guaraní. Today, these ruins of a 160-year experiment have become a tourist attraction.[73][76]

Colonial Brazil

Manuel da Nóbrega on a commemorative Portuguese stamp of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of São Paulo, Brazil
Jesuit in 18th century, Brazil

Tomé de Sousa, first Governor General of Brazil, brought the first group of Jesuits to the colony. The Jesuits were officially supported by the King, who instructed Tomé de Sousa to give them all the support needed to Christianize the indigenous peoples.

The first Jesuits, guided by Manuel da Nóbrega, Juan de Azpilcueta Navarro, Leonardo Nunes, and later José de Anchieta, established the first Jesuit missions in Salvador and in São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, the settlement that gave rise to the city of São Paulo. Nóbrega and Anchieta were instrumental in the defeat of the French colonists of France Antarctique by managing to pacify the Tamoio natives, who had previously fought the Portuguese. The Jesuits took part in the foundation of the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1565.

The success of the Jesuits in converting the indigenous peoples is linked to their efforts to understand the native cultures, especially their languages. The first grammar of the Tupi language was compiled by José de Anchieta and printed in Coimbra in 1595. The Jesuits often gathered the aborigines in communities (the Jesuit Reductions) where the natives worked for the community and were evangelised.

The Jesuits had frequent disputes with other colonists who wanted to enslave the natives. The action of the Jesuits saved many natives from being enslaved by Europeans, but also disturbed their ancestral way of life and inadvertently helped spread infectious diseases against which the aborigines had no natural defenses. Slave labor and trade were essential for the economy of Brazil and other American colonies, and the Jesuits usually did not object to the enslavement of African peoples, but rather critiqued the conditions of slavery.[77]

Suppression and restoration

The Suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal, France, the Two Sicilies, Parma, and the Spanish Empire by 1767 was deeply troubling to Pope Clement XIII, the society's defender. On 21 July 1773 his successor, Pope Clement XIV, issued the papal brief Dominus ac Redemptor, decreeing:

Having further considered that the said Company of Jesus can no longer produce those abundant fruits, ... in the present case, we are determining upon the fate of a society classed among the mendicant orders, both by its institute and by its privileges; after a mature deliberation, we do, out of our certain knowledge, and the fulness of our apostolical power, suppress and abolish the said company: we deprive it of all activity whatever. ...And to this end a member of the regular clergy, recommendable for his prudence and sound morals, shall be chosen to preside over and govern the said houses; so that the name of the Company shall be, and is, for ever extinguished and suppressed.[78]

The suppression was carried out on political grounds in all countries except Prussia for a time, and Russia, where Catherine the Great had forbidden its promulgation. Because millions of Catholics (including many Jesuits) lived in the Polish provinces recently part-annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, the Society was able to maintain its continuity and carry on its work all through the stormy period of suppression. Subsequently, Pope Pius VI granted formal permission for the continuation of the society in Russia and Poland, with Stanisław Czerniewicz elected superior of the province in 1782. He was followed by Gabriel Lenkiewicz, Franciszek Kareu and Gabriel Gruber until 1805, all elected locally as Temporary Vicars General. Pope Pius VII had resolved during his captivity in France to restore the Jesuits universally, and on his return to Rome he did so without much delay. On 7 August 1814, with the bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, he reversed the suppression of the society, and therewith another Polish Jesuit, Tadeusz Brzozowski, who had been elected to Superior in Russia in 1805, acquired universal jurisdiction. On his death in 1820 the Jesuits were expelled from Russia by tsar Alexander I.

The period following the Restoration of the Jesuits in 1814 was marked by tremendous growth, as evidenced by the large number of Jesuit colleges and universities established during the 19th century. During this time in the United States, 22 of the society's 28 universities were founded or taken over by the Jesuits. It has been suggested that the experience of suppression had served to heighten orthodoxy among the Jesuits. While this claim is debatable, Jesuits were generally supportive of papal authority within the church, and some members became associated with the Ultramontanist movement and the declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870.

In Switzerland, the constitution was modified and Jesuits were banished in 1848, following the defeat of the Sonderbund Catholic defence alliance. The ban was lifted on 20 May 1973, when 54.9 per cent of voters accepted a referendum modifying the Constitution.[79]

Early 20th century

In the Constitution of Norway from 1814, a relic from the earlier anti-Catholic laws of Denmark–Norway, Paragraph 2 originally read: "The Evangelical-Lutheran religion remains the public religion of the State. Those inhabitants, who confess thereto, are bound to raise their children to the same. Jesuits and monastic orders are not permitted. Jews are still prohibited from entry to the Realm." Jews were first allowed into the realm in 1851 after the famous Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland had campaigned for it. Monastic orders were permitted in 1897, but the ban on Jesuits was only lifted in 1956.[80]

Republican Spain in the 1930s passed laws banning the Jesuits on grounds that they were obedient to a power different from the state. Pope Pius XI wrote about this: "It was an expression of a soul deeply hostile to God and the Catholic religion, to have disbanded the Religious Orders that had taken a vow of obedience to an authority different from the legitimate authority of the State. In this way it was sought to do away with the Society of Jesus – which can well glory in being one of the soundest auxiliaries of the Chair of Saint Peter – with the hope, perhaps, of then being able with less difficulty to overthrow in the near future, the Christian faith and morale in the heart of the Spanish nation, which gave to the Church of God the grand and glorious figure of Ignatius Loyola."[81]

Post-Vatican II

The 20th century witnessed both growth and decline. Following a trend within the Catholic priesthood at large, Jesuit numbers peaked in the 1950s and have declined steadily since. Meanwhile, the number of Jesuit institutions has grown considerably, due in large part to a post–Vatican II focus on the establishment of Jesuit secondary schools in inner-city areas and an increase in voluntary lay groups inspired in part by the Spiritual Exercises. Among the notable Jesuits of the 20th century, John Courtney Murray was called one of the "architects of the Second Vatican Council" and drafted what eventually became the council's endorsement of religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae.

In Latin America, the Jesuits had significant influence in the development of liberation theology, a movement that was controversial in the Catholic community after the negative assessment of it by Pope John Paul II in 1984.[82]

Under Superior General Pedro Arrupe, social justice and the preferential option for the poor emerged as dominant themes of the work of the Jesuits. When Arrupe was paralyzed by a stroke in 1981, Pope John Paul II, not entirely pleased with the progressive turn of the Jesuits, took the unusual step of appointing the venerable and aged Paolo Dezza for an interim to oversee "the authentic renewal of the Church",[83] instead of the progressive American priest Vincent O'Keefe whom Arrupe had preferred.[84] In 1983 John Paul gave leave for the Jesuits to appoint a successor to Arrupe.

On 16 November 1989, six Jesuit priests (Ignacio Ellacuría, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Joaquin López y López, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado López), Elba Ramos their housekeeper, and Celia Marisela Ramos her daughter, were murdered by the Salvadoran military on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, because they had been labeled as subversives by the government.[85] The assassinations galvanized the society's peace and justice movements, including annual protests at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, United States, where several of the assassins had been trained under US government sponsorship.[86]

On 21 February 2001, the Jesuit priest Avery Dulles, an internationally known author, lecturer, and theologian, was created a cardinal of the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II. The son of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Avery Dulles was long known for his carefully reasoned argumentation and fidelity to the teaching office of the church. An author of 22 books and over 700 theological articles, Dulles died on 12 December 2008 at Fordham University, where he had taught for twenty years as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society. He was, at his passing, one of ten Jesuit cardinals in the Catholic Church.

In 2002, Boston College president and Jesuit priest William P. Leahy initiated the Church in the 21st Century program as a means of moving the church "from crisis to renewal". The initiative has provided the society with a platform for examining issues brought about by the worldwide Catholic sex abuse cases, including the priesthood, celibacy, sexuality, women's roles, and the role of the laity.[87]

In April 2005, Thomas J. Reese, editor of the American Jesuit weekly magazine America, resigned at the request of the society. The move was widely published in the media as the result of pressure from the Vatican, following years of criticism by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on articles touching subjects such as HIV/AIDS, religious pluralism, homosexuality, and the right of life for the unborn. Following his resignation, Reese spent a year-long sabbatical at Santa Clara University before being named a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., and later Senior Analyst for the National Catholic Reporter. President Barack Obama appointed him to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2014 and again in 2016.[88]

On 2 February 2006, Peter Hans Kolvenbach informed members of the Society of Jesus that, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, he intended to step down as Superior General in 2008, the year he would turn 80.

On 22 April 2006, Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Society of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI greeted thousands of Jesuits on pilgrimage to Rome, and took the opportunity to thank God "for having granted to your Company the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and of exceptional apostolic zeal such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier, and Bl Peter Faber". He said "St Ignatius of Loyola was above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, to his greater glory and his greater service. He was a man of profound prayer, which found its center and its culmination in the daily Eucharistic Celebration."[89]

In May 2006, Benedict XVI also wrote a letter to Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis aquas, on devotion to the Sacred Heart, because the Jesuits have always been "extremely active in the promotion of this essential devotion".[90] In his 3 November 2006 visit to the Pontifical Gregorian University, Benedict XVI cited the university as "one of the greatest services that the Society of Jesus carries out for the universal Church".[91]

The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus convened on 5 January 2008 and elected Adolfo Nicolás as the new Superior General on 19 January 2008. In a letter to the Fathers of the Congregation, Benedict XVI wrote:[92]

As my Predecessors have said to you on various occasions, the Church needs you, relies on you and continues to turn to you with trust, particularly to reach those physical and spiritual places which others do not reach or have difficulty in reaching. Paul VI's words remain engraved on your hearts: "Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here also there have been, and there are, Jesuits" (Address to the 32nd General Congregation of the Jesuits, 3 December 1974; ORE, 12 December, n. 2, p. 4.)

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope

In 2013, Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis. Before he became pope, he was appointed bishop when he was in "virtual estrangement from the Jesuits" since he was seen as "an enemy of liberation theology" and viewed by others as "still far too orthodox". He was criticised for colluding with the Argentine junta, while biographers characterised him as working to save the lives of other Jesuits.[93][94][95] After his papal election, the Superior General of the Jesuits Adolfo Nicolás praised Pope Francis as a "brother among brothers".[93]

On 2 October 2016, General Congregation 36 convened in Rome, convoked by Superior General Adolfo Nicolás, who had announced his intention to resign at age 80.[96][97][98] On 14 October, the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus elected Arturo Sosa, a Venezuelan, as its thirty-first Superior General.[99]

The General Congregation of Jesuits who elected Arturo Sosa in 2016 asked him to bring to completion the process of discerning Jesuit priorities for the time ahead. Sosa devised a plan that enlisted all Jesuits and their lay collaborators in the process of discernment over a sixteen-month period. Then in February 2019 he presented the results of the discernment, a list of four priorities for Jesuit ministries for the next ten years.[100]

  1. To show the way to God through discernment and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola;
  2. To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice;
  3. To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future;
  4. To collaborate in the care of our Common Home.

Pope Francis gave his approval to these priorities, saying that they are in harmony with the Church's present priorities and with the programmatic letter of his pontificate, Evangelii gaudium.[101]

Society of Jesus History articles: 355