Open main menu

Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Jesuit

JESUIT, a companion of the Society of Jesus, the most celebrated ecclesiastical order of modern times. The great religious revolution of the 16th century ran through the three stages which tend to occur in revolutions in general. First, there was a moderate departure from the previously existing state of things; then the Anabaptists burst loose from control, and went into extravagances and excesses. Reaction then became inevitable, and if a suitable leader should arise was bound to become powerful. That leader was found in Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, generally known from the castle of Loyola, where he was born, in 1491, as Ignatius Loyola. He became an officer of great bravery in the army. Dreadfully wounded in 1521 while defending Pampeluna against the French, and long confined in consequence to a sick bed, he saw the vanity of the world, and resolved on a devotedly religious life. At the University of Paris, he made converts of two fellow students who lodged with him, one a youth of aristocratic descent, Francis Xavier, afterward the Apostle of the Indies. In 1534 he and they, with four others, seven in all, formed a kind of religious society, the members of which preached through the country. On Aug. 15 of that year they took vows of chastity, absolute poverty, devotion to the care of Christians, and to the conversion of infidels. This was the germ of the Jesuit order. A soldier, he bethought him of an army in which inferiors should give implicit obedience to their superiors. A general should command, and should have none above him but the Pope. Paul III. issued a bull in 1540 sanctioning the establishment of the order with certain restrictions, sv?ept away three years later. In 1541 Loyola was chosen general of the order, and afterward resided generally at Rome. His order spread with great rapidity, and at the death of Loyola, on July 31, 1556, consisted of above 1,000 persons, with 100 houses divided into 12 provinces. The Jesuits rendered great service to the papacy, but ultimately became unpopular with the civil government in most Roman Catholic countries. The people thought them crafty. In September, 1759, an order was given for the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portugal and Brazil. In 1764 the order was suppressed in France, and its property confiscated. On March 31, 1767, similar destruction overtook it in Spain, and soon after in Spanish America, and next, after 1768, in the Two Sicilies and Parma, till at length, on July 21, 1773, the Pope issued a bull suppressing the order altogether. Austria and the other Roman Catholic States obeyed the decree. In August, 1814, Pope Pius VII. re-established it. In June, 1817, the Jesuits were expelled from Russia, and the British Roman Catholic Emancipation Act, passed in 1829, left them under some disabilities which have since been removed. The bill regulating religious communities, which went into force in France in 1901, greatly restricted the Jesuits in their educational work. Roman Catholic higher education in the United States is largely under the control of the Jesuits.