Member of the largest and most influential Roman Catholic religious order founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1534, with the aims of protecting Catholicism against the Reformation and carrying out missionary work. During the 16th and 17th centuries Jesuits took a leading role in the Counter-Reformation, the defence of Catholicism against Protestantism – many, for instance, came to England to work to undermine the Elizabethan religious settlement. Others worked as missionaries in Japan, China, Paraguay, and among the North American Indians. The order had (1991) about 29,000 members (15,000 priests plus students and lay members). There are Jesuit schools and universities.
History The Society of Jesus received papal approval in 1540. Its main objects were defined as educational work, the suppression of heresy, and missionary work among nonbelievers (its members were not confined to monasteries). Loyola infused into the order a spirit of military discipline, with long and arduous training. Their political influence resulted in their expulsion during 1759–68 from Portugal, France, and Spain, and suppression by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The order was revived by Pius VII in 1814, but has since been expelled from many of the countries of Europe and the Americas, and John Paul II criticized the Jesuits in 1981 for supporting revolution in South America. Their head (general) is known as the ‘Black Pope’ from the colour of his cassock; Pieter-Hans Kolvenbach was elected general in 1983.
Loyola, St Ignatius
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A member of the Society of Jesus, a religious order founded by Ignatius Loyola, and approved by the Pope in 1540. The Jesuits were in the...
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