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Who are the Jesuits?

“The Jesuit is a servant of the joy of the Gospel” Pope Francis to General Congregation 36, November 2016 Jesuits are the members of the Society of Jesus which was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III. Ignatius Loyola had gathered around him an energetic band of well-educated men who desired nothing more than to help others find God in their lives. It was Ignatius’ original plan that the Jesuits be travelling missionaries who would preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was the hope of accomplishing the greater good. Since its foundation the Order has grown from the original ten to more than 15,000 Jesuits worldwide. The Jesuit mission is a mission of reconciliation, working so that women and men can be reconciled with God, with themselves, with each other and with God’s creation.

More info about Jesuits

Jesuit Education – a contemporary map.


Founder of the Society of Jesus
Ignatius was born in 1491 at Loyola in Guipuzcoa. After spending some time as a courtier, he turned to a military career. On 20 May 1521, The Basque soldier Ignatius of Loyola was defending the city of Pamplona (Spain) against French troops. He gets hit by a cannonball. His legs are shattered. He barely survives and has to spend months recovering. His previous dreams of worldly success and fame are also shattered. He will walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

During his recovery, Ignatius has nothing to do. He is given a book on the life of Christ and a collection of lives of the Saints to read. He does so reluctantly at the beginning, but then gets inspired and wants to imitate the saints. He radically changes his life, centring it on Christ. He leaves for a long pilgrimage in Europe and the Holy Land. His spiritual experiences during his retreat at Manresa were to provide the core of his book `Spiritual Exercises'. In 1537, he was ordained in Venice, and in the same year moved to Rome. There, in 1540, he founded the Society of Jesus, and in the following year was elected its first General. In every kind of apostolic work, he contributed greatly to the Catholic revival of the sixteenth century and to the renewal of the Church's missionary activity. He died in Rome in 1556, and was canonized by Gregory XV in 1622.

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