The New International Encyclopædia/Jesuits

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The New International Encyclopædia
Edition of 1905. Written by James J. WalshSee also Society of Jesus on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

JESUITS, jĕz'ū-ĭts (Fr. Jésuite, from Neo-Lat. Jesuita, from Lat. Jesus), or Society of Jesus. A religious Order of the Roman Catholic Church. The preliminary step to the foundation of the society was taken when, on August 15, 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (see Ignatius), with six associates — Pierre Le Fèvre, a Savoyard; James Laynez, Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, and Nicholas Bobadilla. Spaniards, and a Portuguese, Simon Rodriguez — took, in the chapel on Montmartre, Paris, vows to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and devote themselves to the conversion of the infidels. Owing to the breaking out of war with the Turks, they could not make the pilgrimage as planned, so they applied themselves to various spiritual works in and around Venice, from which it had been their intention to sail. They lived more or less in common, but were not united in a formal way until 1538, when the first idea of permanent organization came. They went to Rome, and laid the preliminary sketch of the constitution of their proposed Order before Pope Paul III., who approved it in 1539. The formal creation of the Order of Jesuits was made by bull dated September 27, 1540. In founding the Jesuits, Ignatius is often said to have contemplated repairing the losses occasioned to the Church by Luther; but at this time he had scarcely heard of him. His object was the increase of devotion among the adherents of the Church. The motto of the new Order was Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, often abbreviated A. M. D. G. (to the greater glory of God). The members bound themselves, besides the usual three vows of religious Orders to poverty, chastity, and obedience, by a fourth vow to go as missionaries wherever the Pope might send them.

The Older was inaugurated in 1541 by the election of Ignatius as general. He wished to refuse this office at first, but was finally prevailed upon to accept it. The name chosen — Society (or more properly Company) of Jesus — was meant to recall that Ignatius's idea in its foundation was that they were to be a band of soldiers in the army of the Church. What time he could spare from the government of the Society and his many good works the general devoted during the next ten years to the drawing up of the formal Constitutions and rules of the Order. In 1550 these were submitted to the members, and received certain modifications in detail. The revised text, written by Ignatius himself and known as the autograph text, was then sent to all the fathers, even to those in India, and suggestions asked. Such as seemed proper were incorporated in a third text, which forms the Constitutions of the Jesuits now in force. These are essentially from the hand of Ignatius, never having received any important modification. They are considered by Jesuits of the present day as the palladium of their existence as a religious Order. The most important part of the Constitutions are those that prescribe the training to which each member of the Order shall be subjected. The formation, as it is called, of the Jesuit for his life work takes about eighteen years. As a rule, before entrance into the Order he has already pursued studies equivalent to those required for the collegiate degree of A.B. The first two years of novitiate are spent in spiritual exercises, prayer, meditation, and ascetic reading, in the practice of mortification, and in humble occupations of various kinds. During his first year the novice devotes thirty days of retreat, as it is called, in absolute silence, to making the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius. These consist of meditations on the four last things to be remembered and on the life of Jesus Christ. Every year of his life afterwards, no matter what his status in the Society, at least eight successive days are devoted to the same purpose. At the end of the second year of novitiate the candidate takes simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Then two years are devoted to the study of the humanities and the modern languages. After this three years are given to philosophic and scientific studies, during which, though a definite course is marked out for all, opportunities are provided for those who wish to pursue special studies. At the completion of these seven years of study of self, the humanities, philosophy, and science, the young Jesuit, usually now about twenty-five years of age, is sent to teach for five years in a Jesuit college. If he has shown predilection and talent for some special study, he will, as far as circumstances permit, be assigned to teach this branch. He is not confined to one class during his years of teaching, but is supposed to go up with his class during the course, thus providing for his own mental development as well as the consistent progressive formation of his students. After the period of college work, the Jesuit studies theology for three years, and then is advanced to holy orders. For one year more theological studies are continued, and then opportunities are given the young priest for mission work and spiritual employment of various kinds for a year, after which a final year of novitiate, called the third year of probation, is prescribed. During this year the Jesuit devotes himself exclusively to the study of spiritual things, his own character, the ways and means of the Institute of the Society, its rules and Constitution. During his third year the thirty days' retreat of silence and prayer, according to the method of the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius, is once more made. After this final year of probation the candidate is admitted to the last solemn vows, now four in number, because they include a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Those who accomplish this full course are called professed fathers.

The rules prescribe in detail the Jesuit's daily occupation, and, as far as circumstances allow, a definite routine is followed very exactly by all the members of the Order. The Jesuit rises at 5 A.M. Half an hour is given to physical preparation for the day. He devotes one hour to mental prayer, for which there has been fifteen minutes of preparation the night before. He then hears mass, or, if a priest, says mass. About 7 A.M. he breakfasts, and after a few minutes devoted to a review of his morning meditation, and especially the practical resolutions that it has led him to, he begins the day's work, whatever it may be — studying, teaching, preparing sermons, missions or retreats, or writing books or articles. He is advised by his rules not to continue any one form of occupation, whatever it may be, for more than two consecutive hours without a diversion of mind for some minutes at least. About noon he devotes fifteen minutes to a review of his morning's work, and plans the work of the afternoon, so as to do better. Dinner is taken in common, and then, according to rule, one hour is passed in recreation in common. About 9 P.M. the community assemble for the recital of the litany of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin. This is the only daily spiritual exercise in common enjoined by rule. Even this did not originate with Ignatius himself, but with Saint Francis Borgia, the third general of the Society. Ignatius wished to leave his Order free for work and study, depending on the constant direction of the motives of their work to make them spiritual men. The litanies are followed by fifteen minutes devoted to the selection of a passage of the life of Christ for meditation next morning. Then follows the evening examination of conscience. At 10 o'clock all are in bed, unless special permission is given for further work. The Monita Secreta (q.v.), ‘Secret Admonitions,’ a masterpiece of craft and duplicity, supposed to have been issued for the private direction of thoroughly initiated members of the Order, is now acknowledged by all serious authorities to be an invention of the enemies of the Jesuits.

The government of the Society of Jesus, though often spoken of as autocratic, is a striking example of a limited constitutional authority, practically the first of its kind. The Order is governed by a general, whose power, said sometimes to be absolute, is strictly limited by the Constitutions. He is elected by a general congregation and holds his office for life. He may be deposed by a general congregation under certain conditions prescribed by the Constitution, though such an incident has never happened in the history of the Order. A general congregation is composed of the general, or his deputy, and the five assistants, who form his council, besides the provincials, or heads of provinces, and two deputies from each province. The provincial deputies are elected by the professed fathers and the rectors of the province. The general congregation meets every six years, and all important concerns come before it. It alone has power to dissolve a college, or professed house, or a novitiate once established. The general has power to dispense from some provisions of the Constitution in particular cases, but he cannot alter or annul them. All others in authority hold office for a limited time, usually for three years. The assistants who compose the general's consultors are elected by the general congregation, and are chosen from certain groups of provinces. At the present time there is the Italian assistancy, the French, the Spanish, which includes also missions in South America; the German, which includes the Low Countries and Austria; and finally the English, including England and North America, with missions in South Africa and in India. For the assistance of the general there is also an admonitor and a father confessor. The general's admonitor is bound to inform him of any faults he may commit. While the general consults with his assistants, he is not obliged to follow their advice, even when unanimous.

There are four classes of Jesuits: (1) Professed fathers, who, after their eighteen years of preparation, have taken the four solemn vows mentioned above. It is from this class alone that the general and all the higher officials of the Society are chosen. (2) Coadjutors, spiritual and temporal. Spiritual coadjutors are priests whose health or talents have not permitted them to reach the standard of sanctity or knowledge required for professed fathers, and who help in preaching, teaching, and the direction of souls. Temporal coadjutors are the lay brothers to whom the menial offices and certain minor duties are assigned. (3) Scholastics, who, having passed through the novitiate, are engaged either in their own studies or in teaching in the colleges. (4) Novices, who after a short trial as postulants are engaged for two years exclusively in spiritual exercises, prayer, ascetic reading, and practices.

The administrative and executive government of the Society is intrusted under the general to provincials who are named by the general and hold office for three years. In each province the superiors of the colleges, professed houses, and novitiates are appointed by the general, who receives from them at stated intervals — monthly from provinces, quarterly from colleges and novitiates — a detailed report of the character, conduct, and occupation of each member of the Society. Far from making a system of espionage, this detailed knowledge only gives superiors such information with regard to subjects as enables them to make the best possible use of them with the least possible danger of failure under trying circumstances. Ignatius gave his Order no distinctive dress (though that of the Spanish priests of that time has come to be adopted by Jesuits generally), so that they might be freer for intercourse with the world.

The Jesuits spread rapidly. At the death of Ignatius (1556) there were 1000 members of the Order, in twelve provinces. At the end of the century there were over 10,000. When the celebration of the centenary of their foundation came in 1639, they numbered over 13,000. A century and a quarter later, at the time of their suppression, there were 22,600 Jesuits throughout the world. Wherever they were, they were considered as the special upholders of the Papacy and the most faithful defenders of the Catholic Church. This accounts for most of the opposition to them. When there was difficulty between the Republic of Venice and the Pope, during the first half of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits were excluded from the Venetian States. Their close adhesion to the Pope made their position in France often insecure. Gallicanism saw in them implacable opponents, and Jansenism (q.v.) recognized them as the foes most to be feared. The Sorbonne and the University of Paris opposed the introduction of the Society into France, and always continued to be jealous of the educative influence acquired by it. Finally, Mme. de Pompadour became a bitter enemy, because the Jesuits refused her the sacraments, unless there should be an end of her liaison with the King. The philosophic party was opposed to the Jesuits because they saw in them the most prominent factor in the conservation of Catholic thought and education. This united opposition brought about the suppression of the Jesuits by royal edict throughout the French dominions in 1764. The example was followed in a few years by the other Bourbon courts — Spain, Naples, Parma, and Modena. In 1759, through the machinations of the Prime Minister Pombal, who saw an opportunity of enriching himself at their expense, the Jesuits had been expelled from Portugal. The charges that they were the source of the attempt upon the King's life and were fomenting disaffection among the Indians in the so-called reductions of Paraguay, recently transferred from Spain to Portugal, were evidently trumped up. Pope Clement XIII. (1758-69) interposed vainly in their behalf and used every effort to reconcile the governments. Pope Clement XIV. (1769-74), pressed by the ambassadors of so many Catholic governments, at length issued, July 21, 1773, the brief Dominus ac Redemptor Noster, by which, without adopting the charges made against the Society or entering in any way into the question of their justice, acting solely on the motive of ‘the peace of the Church’ he suppressed the Society in all the States of Christendom. Submission to the brief was immediate and complete. In Spain and Portugal the members of the Society were driven into exile. In other Catholic countries they were permitted to remain as individuals, engaged in the ministry or in literary occupations. Two non-Catholic governments, those of Frederick the Great of Prussia and Catharine II. of Russia, refused to allow the brief of suppression to be published in their dominions, because they could not replace the Jesuits as educators. In these States the Jesuits retained a quasi-corporate existence as a Society for education.

What was meant to be the suppression of the Society proved but a temporary suspension. In 1792 the Duke of Parma secured a partial reorganization for his dominions. In 1801 Pope Pius VII. (1800-23) permitted the formal reëstablishment of the Jesuits in Lithuania and White Russia, and with still more formality in Naples in 1804. On August 7, 1814, by the bull Solicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, the complete rehabilitation of the Order was made. Since then the Jesuits have continued to spread all over the world. There were, in 1902, 15,145 Jesuits throughout the world, of whom 6647 were priests, 4545 scholastics, and 3953 lay brothers. In America there were over 2100, of whom about 780 were priests, 735 scholastics, and 585 lay brothers. In the Philippine Islands there were 102 Jesuits, and 55 in Cuba.

Among the works of the Jesuits there is none to which they devoted themselves with more zeal, nor, we may add, with greater success, than that of the education of youth. Saint Ignatius himself insisted on this, and was the first to make education the special ministry of a religious Order. The principles to guide the Society in its educational work were laid down by Ignatius in the fourth part of the Constitution. This was, however, only an outline of a system of education. At first the Jesuits adopted the methods of teaching then followed in the various Catholic schools of Europe, drawing chiefly from the traditions of the great University of Paris, the alma mater of Saint Ignatius and his first companions, though with due attention also to the developing methods of the humanistic schools of the Netherlands, then justly celebrated. The theory that the Jesuits' method of education was borrowed largely from the “Plan of Studies” of John Sturm of Strassburg is now admitted to be false. From 1540 to 1599 the Society was engaged in forming a complete system of studies. Plans were drawn up and put in practice in various colleges, as for example those of Nadal and Ledesma. The practical system thus created was completed under Acquaviva, the fifth general of the Society, who ruled during its most brilliant period (1581-1615). In 1584 a committee of six experienced Jesuit teachers of different nationalities drew up a preliminary plan which was tried in all the colleges of the Society. The results of this five-year trial were reported to Rome and the suggestions made were employed in drawing up a modified plan which was sent to the various colleges in 1591. After this plan had been tested for over five years, the final plan was drawn up and formally issued in 1599. This is the famous Ratio Studiorum, which was the fruit of long and patient efforts, and the result of the combined wisdom of the whole Society. The system is divided into three parts — (1) Studia inferiora, inferior studies, which consist chiefly of linguistics, the literary study of the classical languages with history, archæology, etc., as collateral branches; (2) arts, or philosophy, consisting of philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences as far as they were known and cultivated in those times; (3) theology. In the lower course, that of humanities, there were ordinarily five classes, in some places six. These were called the grammar classes, first, second, and third, then humanities, or poetry and rhetoric. After the restoration of the Society at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the needs of the times demanded a change in the educational system. Father Roothaan, then general, proceeded with the same care as Acquaviva in securing the opinions of the best educators in various countries. The revised Ratio Studiorum was published in 1832. This was not definitive, but was considered subject to such further changes as might prove advisable in the course of time, and the progress of education. The principles of the old Ratio Studiorum are preserved, but greater attention is recommended to the natural sciences and special care is to be devoted to the teaching of the mother tongue. The Jesuits have always been markedly successful in the teaching of Latin and Greek. The essence of their method is the prelection or preliminary explanation of a passage by the teacher, followed by the pupil's study of it and then by recitation, which includes grammatic, historic, and other details. Imitative themes are a prominent feature, and, as far as possible, the pupil is brought to a speaking knowledge of the language studied. Frequent repetitions are recommended. The thoroughness of this system is exemplified by their own mastery of the Latin tongue, and the lasting knowledge acquired by their students, especially in the classic languages. How well the recommendation to devote more attention to the sciences has been carried out is shown by the fact that such great astronomers of the nineteenth century as De Vico, Perry, and Secchi were Jesuits.

The number of the colleges increased very rapidly. Within fifty years after the Papal approbation, the Jesuits had colleges all over the world, not only in Europe, but in the Indies, China, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. At the time of the death of Acquaviva (1615) the Society had 372 colleges. Shortly before the suppression of the Society, about the middle of the eighteenth century, there were 728 colleges, many of which had an average attendance of 1500 or more, while in some the number of students was from 2000 to 3000, and no college is mentioned with a lower number than 300. Taking the lowest possible average, the 700 Jesuit colleges must have had about the middle of the eighteenth century 300,000 students. This influence was all the more important as they insisted on moral and religious training. Such Protestant writers as Ranke, Paulsen, Quick, and others, candidly admit that the Jesuits during these centuries were the best educators, so that many parents not of the Catholic faith intrusted the education of their sons to them. The spread and development of Jesuit colleges during the nineteenth century was slow but steady. The Order had to struggle against great difficulties. The colleges which it possessed before the suppression were in the hands of the civil authorities. The persecutions and expulsions of the Society from various countries prevented the establishment of new colleges, and put an end to those already in being. Notwithstanding this, in the year 1900 the Jesuits had more than 60,000 students in their colleges all over the world. In the United States they have colleges with the privileges of universities at Worcester, Mass., Boston, Fordham, N. Y., New York City, Georgetown, D.C., Jersey City, N. J., Washington, D. C., Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, Omaha, Saint Louis, Saint Mary's, Kan., Galveston, Mobile, New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Cal., Buffalo, Cleveland, Spokane, and Manila, P. I. The attendance at Jesuit colleges throughout the world has doubled in the last twenty-five years. Besides their colleges and missions the Jesuits have charge of the Apostleship of Prayer, or League of the Sacred Heart (q.v.).

The Jesuit missions are the source of the greatest honor to the Order. Saint Francis Xavier's (q.v.) work in the Indies recalled the Apostolic times. He knew how to organize his many missions, so that his numerous converts became faithful Christians in the best sense. His brethren on the missions imitated his example and almost rivaled his success. Venerable Joseph Anchieta, called the Apostle of Brazil, before the end of the sixteenth century, organized missions among the natives of that country into settlements of the kind that in Paraguay, later, were called reductions. The first reduction of Paraguay was founded in 1610. For nearly a century and a half the native converts lived in ideal peace and happiness. These native Christian communities have been the admiration of students of social science ever since. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, after twenty years of patient effort, Father Ricci succeeded in getting audience of the Emperor of China. His skill in applied mathematics and mechanics gained him the favor of the Emperor, and he obtained protection for the Christians in China. Scholarly successors, equally able and zealous, Schall, Verbiest, and Bouvet, continued the good influence over the Emperor. Unfortunately, after a time, the controversy over the ‘Chinese rites’ took place. Certain practices of their former lives, which, in imitation of the Apostles, the Jesuits allowed their converts still to keep up, seemed to the Dominicans to savor of idolatry. In the midst of the disputes the Imperial favor was lost, and persecutions wiped out the Chinese missions. The Japanese missions were begun in 1549 by Saint Francis Xavier, and in thirty years had grown to number 200,000 Christians. Bloody persecutions, continuing for nearly three centuries, made numbers of martyrs; but with a marvelous tenacity, though all their priests had been put to death, the survivors handed down their faith from generation to generation, and when Japan was once more opened to Europeans in the nineteenth century, there were still natives ready to welcome the Catholic missionaries as their long-lost fathers. In India Robert de' Nobili (1605) took up the difficult task of living as a high-caste Brahmin, fulfilling rigidly their precepts of abstinence and avoiding all contact with other castes. After years of patience he succeeded in making numerous converts. The careers of Fathers Lallemont, Brebœuf, and Jogues among the Huron and Iroquois Indians were a succession of sufferings and hardships, deliberately undertaken, calmly borne, and heroically persisted in by men of gentle breeding and deep culture. The Jesuit missions were always centres of civilization as well as religion. When the United States Government took possession of the Philippines, the Jesuits in charge of the observatory at Manila were asked to collate the information with regard to the Archipelago in the possession of members of the Order, and this was published in two large volumes with an atlas at the Government Printing Office (El Archipiélago Filipino, Washington, 1900).

The following periodicals are issued under the direction of the Jesuits, and always supply information as to current topics in their regard: Civiltà Cattolica, Rome; The Month, London; Etudes Littéraires et Religieuses, Paris; Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, Freiburg; Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie, Innsbruck; Revue des Questions Scientifiques, Brussels; The Messenger, New York; Messenger of the Sacred Heart, Innsbruck, Bilbao, Toulouse, Mexico, and other places. Consult for their Constitution, Institutum Societatis Jesu (Avignon, 1830-38); or Concerning Jesuits (London, 1902). The accepted authority for their general history is Crétineau-Joly, Histoire de la compagnie de Jésus (6 vols., Paris, 1844-46); in English, Daurignac, History of the Jesuits (Baltimore, 1878); B. N., The Jesuits, Their Foundation and History (2 vols., New York, 1879). For opposing views, Theodore Griesinger, Die Jesuiten (Stuttgart, 1866; Eng. trans., New York, 1885). For special countries, Parkman, Jesuits in North America (seventeenth century) (Boston, 1898); the notable series of Jesuit Relations, edited by Thwaites (73 vols., Cleveland, 1896 sqq.); Foley, Jesuits in England (London, 1877-83; also, Taunton, London, 1901); Pollard, Jesuits in Poland (Oxford, 1892); Smith, “Suppression of the Jesuits,” in The Month (London, 1902), later in book form; Duhr, Jesuitenfabeln (Saint Louis, 1899). For pedagogy: Pachtler, Ratio Studiorum, etc., in Monumenta Germaniæ Pædagogica, vols. ii., v., ix., xvi. (Berlin, 1887-93), the standard work on the subject; Monumenta Historica Societatis Jesu; Monumenta Pædagogica (Madrid, 1901-02); Hughes, Loyola (New York, 1892); Duhr, Die Studienordnung der Gesellschaft Jesu (Saint Louis, 1896); Paulsen, Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts (Berlin, 1896); Schwickerath, Jesuit Education (Saint Louis, 1903). For the bibliography of Jesuit writers, A. de Backer, Bibliothèque bibliographique de la Compagnie de Jésus (3 vols, fol., Paris, 1869-76); Sommervogel, Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes et pseudonymes de la Compagnie de Jésus (Paris, 1884); Moniteur bibliographique de la Compagnie de Jésus (Paris, 1889).