The Society of Jesus
The Jesuits, formally named the Society of Jesus, are a highly educated and controversial religious order within the Catholic Church. It was started by St. Igantius of Loyola, and runs hundreds of colleges and Universities around the world. They maintain a very strong presence in The United States, having founded such schools as Boston College, Marquette, Georgetown, and Fordham, just to name a few. Their impact has been felt around the country and has created the standard for higher education .
The Society of Jesus was informally founded on August 15, 1534, by St. Ignatius of Loyola and his six followers. These followers were Nicolas Bobadilla, Pierre Favre, Diego Lainez, Simao Rodrigues, Alfonso Salmeron, and Francis Xavier. They had all been influenced by Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, and were already companions of Ignatius. Their vows included chastity, poverty, “apostolic labor as enjoined by the pope,” and that if possible, they would go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. These men (and 4 others) decided to become an official order in 1539, and they wrote the Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae. This document had the order approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III.
The Jesuits immediately found extreme success, having between 15,000 and 16,000 members in 37 designated provinces by the year 1615. The order’s first major task was to combat the spread of Protestantism in Europe. The Society of Jesus is credited with turning back the Protestant advance in France, Belgium, and parts of Central and Eastern Europe. In some countries where Protestantism had already taken hold, Jesuits worked undercover to turn people against the movement, risking, jail, torture, and death. After these successes, the Jesuits turned their focus back to its original goals of education and missionary work. The central focus of the Society of Jesus has always been to provide higher education. This primary goal was established in 1547-1548 with the founding of its first...
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