The Jesuits Essay Research Paper The Society

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The Jesuits Essay, Research Paper The Society of Jesus, formally approved by Pope Paul III in his bull Regimini Militantis Ecclaesiae of September 1540, was one of many new religious orders of men and women which appeared during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. All of these new orders were both fruit and expression of that renewal of European Catholicism commonly known today as the Catholic Reformation. The Jesuits, however, were the most renowned of these new religions. This new religion was the vision of a man named Ignatius of Loyola, who simply wanted to pursue a faith that would help more needy people. In order to achieve this, he eventually set up colleges where his followers could train and educate themselves. However, like all new things, this religion and

everyone involved had strong opposition. The Jesuits were the largest of the new orders of the Catholic Reformation. They were the most clerical and highly organized. They were the most Roman – for their Basque founder, Ignatius Loyola, committed his Company, as he usually called it, to the service of the papacy and made Rome his headquarters. He was the first founder of a major order to do so. Jesuits were also the most international of the religions. Though always strongly Spanish (with a large Portuguese presence), the Society quickly gained recruits from Italy, Germany, France and a surprising number from Central Europe and the British Isles. They retained their cosmopolitan character thereafter, and they were international in another sense: they were to be more widely

distributed around the world than even the friars – in the Near and Middle East, India, the East Indies, China, Japan, Africa and the Americas (Broderick). That Paul III should ever have approved them is surprising, for the mood in Rome at the time of their foundation was unsympathetic to the religious and prevailing reformist opinion was that there should be fewer of them rather than more. This was a time for vigorous pruning and weeding out, not new plantings (Broderick). However, Pope Paul eventually yielded to entreaty and gave formal approval to Ignatius and the companions he had brought to Rome. The pope ruled that the new Society should not grow to more than 60 strong as he probably expected that it would be short-lived. By the time of Ignatius s death in 1556 there were

over 1000 Jesuits with the limit of 60 having been lifted in 1544. In 1615 the Society had over 13,000 members and by 1679 there were over 17,600 (O Malley). The original Jesuits were ten priests who had first come together at the University of Paris and who, having been unable to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, decided to remain united nonetheless and go to Rome. There they would place themselves at the pope s disposal, as they had no precise plans. They were available to serve God and their fellow humans by preaching, catechizing children, hearing confessions and administering other sacraments, working in prisons and hospitals and among any other needy people. They would undertake anything pertaining to the progress of souls and the propagation of the faith, as well as any

charitable work (O Malley). Though still particularly drawn to Infidels (Moslems), they were ready to be sent among heretics (Protestants) or to Catholic or pagan lands. So they were not founded simply to combat Protestantism or to be what today would be termed foreign missionaries. They were available to go anywhere in Europe or to new worlds beyond (Broderick). That was Ignatius s vision. An ex-soldier consumed with desire to serve the lord and a mystic of astonishing intensity, he saw his Company as a collection of individuals ready to undertake any deeds of spiritual chivalry anywhere. This type of activism means that there should be no excessive mortification – no long fast or vigils – and none of the chief features of the contemplative life, such as the daily round of