This site has been archived for historical purposes. These pages are no longer being updated.

Companions of Jesuits

A Tradition of Collaboration

Joseph F. MacDonnell, S.J.
Humanities Institute
Fairfield University

Copyright © 1995 by Joseph F. MacDonnell, S.J.
Fairfield University
Fairfield, CT 06430

This book is dedicated to the faculty of Fairfield University,
Companions whose devotion to teaching, commitment to scholarship and
concern for the good of their students
perpetuate a long tradition of Jesuit education


"General Congregation 31 urged us to foster the collaboration of the laity in our own apostolic works. . . . We seek to respond to this grace by putting ourselves at the service of the full realization of the mission of the laity. We also collaborate with . . . people of all faiths and beliefs who seek to build a world of truth, justice, freedom, peace and love. We are grateful for this collaboration and are enriched by it.
Jesuits are men for others and men with others."

(From the 1995 Jesuit General Congregation 34 held in Rome)


Companions of Jesuits Chapter 1: Jesuit Tradition and the Spiritual Exercises

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 2: Artistic Expression of Jesuit Values

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 3: Jesuits Do Not Sing, But Their Companions Do

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 4: The Play's The Thing

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 5: Partners and Rivals During the Scientific Revolution


For other interesting and important Jesuit sites read the following:



The title Companions of Jesuits sounds like the name Ignatius originally used for his own Society, "Companions of Jesus", and so some explanation is needed. Ignatius, unlike Dominic and Francis did not want his followers to be named Ignatian after him, but instead wanted his followers to be called Companions of Jesus. The word Jesuit predated Ignatius and was used by non-Catholics to deride what they saw as their fanatical Catholic adversaries. For some reason the latter name stuck. Companion is derived from the Latin cum [with] and panis [bread]; thus, "Companions of Jesus" "with whom they break bread". Companions work together for a common goal: they do more than collaborate, they are friends inspired by the same person, animated by the same principles and enthused about the same work. To identify those whose lives are intertwined with Jesuits working in our various ministries, especially colleges, the words lay colleague are inadequate whereas Companions of Jesuits seems very appropriate.

"Companions" means "sharing bread"

This project, then, describes the contributions to the arts and sciences of easily recognized people who have collaborated as Companions in Jesuit education, art and scholarship. It must be remembered that, unlike the cloistered monk, the Jesuit's vocation was never meant to keep him aloof from non-Jesuits, and so collaboration in Jesuit education is nothing new. Ignatius was a layman most of his life and died sixteen years after he started the Society. It seems to surprise some that Ignatius Loyola was a layman when he experienced, recorded and conducted the Spiritual Exercises, a document which constitute the foundation of Jesuit life as well as Jesuit apostolates. In fact, Jesuit colleges could more properly be called Ignatian colleges rather than Jesuit; the name Ignatian has wonderful poignancy since it reaches beyond these men who are Jesuits and refers to the countless women and men who have adopted an Ignatian view of God and our world as expressed in the Spiritual Exercises. Throughout this book The Society or Jesuit refers to the Order or its members while Companions refer to those who in some way collaborated with Jesuits. Also most of the Companions discussed in this book - the group that I am most familiar with - lived during the Society's first few centuries.

Ignatius by Rubens

Histories are full of references to very talented people who have collaborated with Jesuits in education, scholarship, scientific investigation and service. They have been colleagues, teachers, students, friends, relatives, antagonists or cohorts of Jesuits. They include: Bernini the sculptor, Rubens and Van Dyke the painters, Carissimi the musician, Moliere the comedian, Corneille the tragedian, Descartes the philosopher, James Joyce the novelist, Boussuet the orator, d'Urfe the romantic novelist, Montesquieu the political philosopher and scientists such as Ampère, Boyle, Cassini, Cauchy, Dirichlet, Galileo, Ghetaldi, von Guericke, Kepler, Lagny, Lalande, Marcus Marci, Mersenne, Ohm, van Roomen, Torricelli and Volta.

One may ask: "Why this book?"For some years it has fallen to me to explain "in 25 words or less" the Jesuit tradition at Fairfield to new faculty. An important element of this presentation has been the number of laity engaged in collaboration with Jesuits. My readings in preparation for this talk have astonished me with the variety, the quality and the fame of some of these companions, some of whom have just been mentioned. These findings should be recorded someplace and made available not only to new faculty but to all, especially to our faculty who think that Bellarmine was a generous benefactor. That may be true but that does not explain the name of our building. This modest effort is far from the last word on Companions and hopefully will encourage scholars in the fields mentioned to read further.

My sources are not religious books or hagiographies. In my opinion propaganda pieces such as the Knights of Columbus past paid newspaper ads, "Marco Polo was a Catholic" do not prove anything more than the fact that some interesting people were Catholic. My sources are the standard reference books recognized by scholars for a given field, and these books are crucial in this study because I am skilled in only one of the fields mentioned; I can only point to the sources so that someone more familiar with the subject can read further. On the other hand, itemizing every reference with proper footnotes would cause an irritating clutter that would justify putting this book on the shelf for a later reading. In order to facilitate reading, the end of each chapter lists a collection of books used in that chapter. Where the narrative contains longer indented quotes, they are followed by the author's name, the date of the book and the page number. Some frequently used references are shortened and are followed by the volume and page numbers, as listed on the next page. The proper identification such as the publisher and date of publication are found in the references at the end of each chapter.

Bibliothčque de la compagnie de Jęsus = Som
The Encyclopedia of World Art = EWA
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians = Grove
The Oxford Companion to the Theater by Hartnoll = Oxford
The Dictionary of Scientific Biography = DSB
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society = TRS

The scanned photos are meant to help focus on the variety of Companions as well as their interesting accomplishments connected with Jesuit colleges. Since photos enhance most presentations, I scattered throughout the text as many scanned photos as I could find that were interesting and pertinent. This book is neither an art collection nor an historical document, so my photo sources are not at all pretentious. Some of the photos are quite familiar and ubiquitous, connected with famous Companions, and have been scanned from post cards, borrowed tourists' photos, guide books and popular magazines. I have identified those which have been taken from history books by using the author's name: the complete citation is found among the references at the end of the chapter.

For assistance in the composition, I am indebted to Vincent Burns and Joseph Ryan who often read my manuscript and offered many insightful suggestions. For their patient reading and for their encouragement I wish to thank Michael Boughton, Phyllis Braun, Richard Curry, Philip Eliasoph, Elizabeth Gardner, Benjamin Fine, Nancy Haegel, Evangel Hadjimichael, Philip Lane, James Long, Suzanne Lyngaas, Suzanne MacAvoy, Martin McCarthy, Ed O'Connell, Leo O'Connor, Edward O'Neill, Frank Rice and Joan Walters.


In its 455-year history, the Society of Jesus has had only 34 General Congregations. These supreme deliberative bodies are composed of representatives from every Jesuit Province and periodically meet to elect the Superior General and to legislate. The last four have emphasized collaboration with the laity in Jesuit apostolic works. As far as our colleges go in this country, one may ask: "Who is collaborating with whom?" Today, the number of Jesuits on most campuses is small and influence minimal: it is mostly laity who make the schools' decisions. Campus signs here at Fairfield University, illustrate this change. They have evolved from the first bold announcement Fairfield University is owned by the Jesuits to Jesuit-run Fairfield University, then to Fairfield University: a Jesuit University and now to Fairfield University: founded by the Jesuits. Each year the adjective Jesuit becomes more tenuous, partly because the Jesuits appear to be becoming an endangered species. Today more than ever we Jesuits are asked strange, but telling questions by new faculty: "Are Jesuits Catholics?" or "I know you are a Jesuit, but are your parents Jesuits also?" or "How did the Jesuits ever grab control of this place?" It occurred to me that we Jesuits would get a failing grade for telling our Jesuit story, even though we have plenty to tell. While doing research in Berkeley's massive libraries, I found in the card catalogues four times as many entries about Jesuits as there were about Jesus. As far as eulogies went Jesus did pretty well - not so the Jesuits. Jesuits and their colleges have always been easy targets, so many of the books were less than flattering but the interest in Jesuits is undoubted. It is important for Jesuits to take advantage of that interest and tell our story now before we disappear from the scene completely.

If the Jesuit Tradition of our colleges became little more than a dim memory, some faculty might say Three cheers! There is a wide spectrum of enthusiasm for Jesuit presence ranging from low negative to high positive. Every campus has a few spoilsports, or those who would like to reshape a Jesuit school which nurtures faith, into an exclusive haven for agnostics. But on the other hand there are still many lay faculty (which number varies with each school) who are Ignatian in their outlook. They share the vision and ideals of Ignatius and form a community of people dedicated to an Ignatian enterprise. In fact over the centuries the triumphs of Jesuit schools - once the Jesuits got them started - were due to the work of dedicated laity perhaps as much as to members of the Society. Through the Spiritual Exercises the Ignatian charism has always extended deeply into the lives of the laity who became as enthused about the Jesuit schools as the Jesuits were. It was true in the beginning and is still true today in our extensive network of Jesuit schools, educating one and a half million students. The Ignatian system of values has attracted exceptionally competent faculty as well as highly qualified students to our 90 Jesuit colleges and universities in 27 countries, and 430 Jesuit high schools in 55 countries - institutions which have graduated men and women of vast and varied talent.

In any case collaboration was urged by the General Congregations, especially GC 31, GC 32 and GC 33. The most recent, GC 34, which just ended in March, 1995, put the case more emphatically. It not only encourages lay collaboration with Jesuits but puts more stress on Jesuits serving the laity in their mission. "Jesuits are men for others and men with others."

Ignatius sending Francis Xavier to the Orient

Of course, collaboration is an idea that is as old as Jesuit education, and the point of this book is to narrate in detail the contributions to the arts and sciences of easily recognized people who lived during the Society's first two centuries, and who have collaborated as Companions in Jesuit education, art and scholarship. A surprising number of rather famous artists and scholars have been connected (whether directly or indirectly) with the early years of Jesuit education. Not all made and lived Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises as did Bernini, but the genuine interest in the Ignatian tradition was well above the critical mass needed to sustain a Jesuit apostolate. The enthusiasm for the Ignatian tradition and participation in the apostolate varied with each person.

Together for the past four and a half centuries both Jesuit and non-Jesuit Companions have brought glorious success and fame to Jesuit schools. They have also impacted society, history, science, art, drama, music, mathematics, medicine and many other categories. The early Society was so involved in academia that it was difficult to find any significant European scholars during the Society's first two centuries who were not in some way connected to Jesuits; as teachers, as students, as friends, as enemies, as relatives or as patrons. Some were fiercely loyal, some were enthused, some were merely supportive, some tolerant, some antagonistic, but no one seemed to be disinterested in Jesuit education. The following examples may illustrate my point.

• Rome glows with Bernini's beautiful sculptures, many of which illustrate how much his personal life centered on Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises that he had mastered.

• An early text on physical optics concerning the theory of binocular vision and of color resulted from the cooperation of Peter Paul Rubens and the Jesuit François d'Aguilon.

• Although Jesuits were not great musicians they knew how to find non-Jesuit artists like Carissimi, who developed the oratorio and as well composed and taught beautiful music.

The Oxford Companion to the Theater ties the development of drama, of the opera and of the ballet to the thousands of dramatic productions in Jesuit colleges. Some governments chose to build their opera houses on the Jesuit campuses.

• Banned from the French theaters by Richelieu, Molière was allowed by Jesuits to use their theaters for his productions since the Jesuit schools were exempt from Richelieu's edicts.

• René Descartes not only was a Jesuit alumnus but also had a nephew, Philippe Descartes, S.J., who was a Jesuit mathematician.

• Liebniz, a Lutheran, was attracted to mathematics after reading the works of Jesuit mathematicians, and later wrote to the Jesuits in China suggesting the use of complex numbers to explain the mystery of the Trinity to Chinese mathematicians.

The great mathematician and Father of Modern Analysis, Augustin Cauchy who wrote 700 brilliant papers, lived in a Jesuit house, took an active part in Jesuit Sodalities and defended the Jesuits who were under attack during France's Terror of 1830.

Otto von Guericke, Magdeburg's colorful burgomaster and inventor of the air pump, depended on his Jesuit colleague Gaspar Schott to publish a description of his dramatic experiment demonstrating atmospheric pressure. It took two teams of eight horses to break apart two evacuated 22 inch iron hemispheres.

• Galileo is considered the Father of Modern Science, but the Dominican William Wallace, O.P., has proven that there were eight grandfathers, all Jesuit physicists teaching in the Roman College, from whom Galileo learned his early theories of motion. It was to these Jesuits that Galileo first appealed before his crisis with the Church.

• There is also an impressive collection of correspondence between Kepler and the Jesuits. Protestant Kepler sent ecumenical letters of encouragement as well as scientific reports to the Jesuits working in China. He dedicated his last book to his Jesuit friend, Paul Guldin, S.J.

• Ohms Law V = IR commemorates three of the worlds most familiar names, Ohm, Volta and Ampère whose names - or symbols - are stamped on all electrical instruments. Disregard of their names - especially voltage - has had deadly consequences! All three men were connected with Jesuit schools.

• Mathematicians Dirichlet and Steiner expressed their indebtedness to their Protestant mathematics teacher at the Jesuit school in Cologne, George Ohm, the author of Ohm's law.

• Alessandro Volta joined the Jesuits for a short time (as did his father) and then interacted with Jesuit scientists for the rest his life. He developed and built the first electric battery.

• André Ampère sponsored the education of the abandoned students of Jesuit schools who, during the Terror of 1830, were dismissed by the French Government when it expelled the Jesuits from France and then confiscated their schools.

• Robert Hooke translated the very first treatise on lighter-than-air flight by the Jesuit Lana Terzi, S.J., built a model and presented Terzi's plan to the Royal Society of London, which despised Jesuits. It was a time when Englishmen caught harboring Jesuits were pressed to death.

• Franz Anton Mezmer was a student of the Jesuit Maximilian Hell and together by a process of spirited argumentation and disagreement learned how to make suffering people oblivious to their pain by a process which is now called mesmerism or hypnotism.

• The famous seventeenth century embryologist and Jesuit alumnus, John Marcus Marci of Kronland, spent his whole academic life fighting the Jesuits who ran a competing medical school. Shortly before he died he entered the Jesuit Order. His anti-Jesuit supporters were crushed by what they perceived to be an admission of a failed life: if you cannot beat them join them.

If one sees this as name-dropping and triumphalism, so be it. But it emphasizes how seriously people took the principles of Ignatius Loyola and how profoundly influential were his Spiritual Exercises. Not all who worked in Jesuit schools knew about or cared about these Exercises but the majority always provided a nurturing environment for students as well as faculty to find God in their lives. So, countless non-Jesuits have been committed to Jesuit education for four and a half centuries - and they still are today. Jesuit education would have collapsed long ago if it were not for the lay associates.



Chapter 1

Jesuit Tradition Inspired and Shaped by the Spiritual Exercises

"[The Jesuit college of LaFlèche] is where was planted the first
seeds of all my later accomplishments and for which I am
eternally grateful to the Society of Jesus." René Descartes



The Educational Legacy of Ignatius Loyola; (1491-1556)

Why is Ignatius Loyola placed with educators from Socrates to Dewey as one of the world's great innovators of education? After his famous conversion at Manresa, Ignatius 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 they be roving missionaries like Francis Xavier who would preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was the hope of accomplishing the greater good. When, however, hundreds of young men joined his new religious order Ignatius had to provide for their education. He started schools for them but also admitted non-Jesuit students at a time when theology rarely got beyond the seminaries. It soon became clear to Ignatius that these schools offered the greatest possible service to the church, by moral and religious instruction, by making devotional life accessible to the young and by teaching the Gospel message of service to others. Ignatius quickly realized how critical changes in a whole society could come through education, so he made a momentous decision, revised his original plan and became an enthusiastic champion of systematic education.

Ignatius's "Contemplatio" of the Spiritual Exercises

From the very beginning these Jesuit schools became such an influential exponent of Catholic reform that this novel Jesuit enterprise was later called "a rebirth of the infant church". But this would hardly convince institutions from the Sorbonne to Columbia University to engrave "Loyola" on their walls. So again, what was his particular contribution to education? Ignatius realized that education was not an end in itself but rather a means to lead the student to care about other human beings. The genius and innovation he brought to education came from his Spiritual Exercises whose object is to free a person from predispositions and biases, thus enabling one to make free choices. These Exercises are based on the premise that people who are free enough to say reality is good will recognize their own goodness and will live happy and fulfilled lives. The goals of Jesuit education have always been to offer this means to become a person of choice, thus inviting students to be more concerned about their fellow human beings. The most direct way to help the young is to help them find God.

Ignatius infused this goal into the existing pattern of humanistic education which included appreciation of the arts to appreciate beauty, grammar to learn how to read, rhetoric to express oneself, mathematics to enable one to think and theology (with its handmaiden philosophy) to find God. He then fashioned these into an orderly process. The norms of instruction, known as the Ratio Studiorum, were soon formulated by his successors.

Ignatius' conversion occurred during his recuperation

This plan of studies established certain basic characteristics for the Jesuit program which included a respect for the varying capacities of students. This order was quite different from the confusion Ignatius as a student had experienced at Alcalá and the chaos of the contemporary schools with optional courses and infrequent classes. The organizational genius of Ignatius and his followers, focusing on the individual, stabilized classical studies and gave them a popularity which even Erasmus was not able to achieve.

During the last nine years of his life, Ignatius opened 33 schools. Within a century 300 Jesuit colleges dotted Catholic Europe in "one of the great extensions and consolidations of Renaissance humanism". His innovations were perpetuated by his followers so that two centuries later Jesuits operated 740 Jesuit schools (survivors of over a thousand which had been started) and taught in eleven other state schools. Jesuits were called the schoolmasters of Europe during these centuries, not only because of their schools but also for their pre-eminence as scholars and for the thousands of textbooks they composed. Christopher Clavius, S.J., for example, whom Descartes and Leibniz acknowledged as a source of their inspiration, wrote a standard geometry text used throughout Europe.

Jesuit College of LaFlèche in France

Today there is an extensive network of Jesuit schools educating one and a half million students. There are 90 Jesuit colleges in 27 countries. Here in the United States the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities have over a million living graduates. There are also 430 Jesuit high schools in 55 countries. In these schools the Ignatian system of values has attracted exceptionally competent faculty as well as highly qualified students. They form a Jesuit network, not that they are administered in the same way, but that they pursue the same goals.

Jesuit College graduates are expected to have made mature commitments to values and should have acquired the self-discipline to live by these values. They should tolerate diversity of perspective and have a critical respect for their own cultural tradition. They should have developed competence in the skills of analysis, judgment and expression. They should be aware of their interdependence with their fellow men and women. They should know that theirs is a privileged position in a world where most people are poor and oppressed by the conditions they live in. They should be "men and women for others", that is, the good things both material and spiritual which they want for themselves they should want for others too. They should be able to see in their own lives signs of a transcendent life and means of access to it.

Jesuit education, which began in 1547, is still committed today to the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. Because of this fact Jesuit educators have been a thorn in the side of tyrants for more than four centuries. One recent example is the murder in 1989 by the El Salvador military of the six university Jesuits who were determined to promote justice and to spread the Ignatian vision, teaching love and concern for others, especially for the poor and those whom the unjust structures of society keep oppressed and destitute. This is, after all, the obligation of all educated, mature human beings. One grasps this concept from the animating source of the founders of all Jesuit schools which is the Spiritual Exercises handed down from Ignatius of Loyola.

Recuperation of Ignatius

The Spiritual Exercisesof Ignatius

Ignatius and his followers knew that anyone seeking God was not meant to wait for visions, but had only to seek God in an intelligent and humble way and then with God's grace could "find God in all things". His method involved Spiritual Exercises of the mind, memory, will and imagination. Analogous to running and swimming for the physical improvement of the body, these exercises of the spiritual faculties would enable one to find the divine will and to conform one's will to the will of God.

When Ignatius underwent his remarkable conversion he recorded the movements and reactions of his spiritual faculties in great detail, and was inspired to organize them in a fashion that would guide others undergoing the same profound experience of God that he had. He experienced, composed and presented the Exercises as a layman, and was ordained much later. His Exercises were not a series of pious sermons or edifying notes to be read; they were prescriptions that were meant to put a person in direct communication with God. The exercitant who undertakes the Exercises becomes a self-learner by incessant self-activity striving to dispose himself to God's grace in order to attain the end for which he was created. Joseph Tetlow, S.J., speaks of the relevance of the Spiritual Exercises for the laity today.

Spiritual Exercises belong to the Church. On their own, they involve lay and Jesuit colleagues in fruitful ways. They create spiritual conversation and community, which Americans yearn for. They help religious women offer women's gifts to the Church in the world, and help the laity find their own gifts confirmed by prayer. They offer an assured way to find God working in all things and a feasible project of living contemplative in action. Just Christians in the marketplace.

Ignatius of Loyola created and conducted this apostolate for 15 years before he was ordained. Through it, everyone knows, he drew scores of men into the Company of Jesus. It surprises no one who knows the history that Spiritual Exercises are proving an astonishingly effective instrument of lay spirituality even in the postmodern era. They are being used for and by and with lay people in many formats all around the world and then supply the basis of sophisticated spiritualities for the marketplace. It is safe to say that more people are going through the one-on-one directed Exercises today than at any time in history. It is safe to say something more: Spiritual Exercises are being used as an apostolic instrument by better-educated laity.
(Tetlow, 1994, National Jesuit News, Dec.)

Ignatius's vision at Cardoner River

In the past Companions of Jesuits like Gianlorenzo Bernini, who will be mentioned later, not only experienced the Spiritual Exercises but made them the operative principles of his life as well as a lifelong process. The Exercises are divided into four distinct sections called "weeks". The "Principle and Foundation" at the beginning of the First Week of the Exercises addresses the ultimate purpose of life and the created universe, making retreatants realize that the goal of their lives is to live with God forever: that God is not only their creator but is to be their eternal companion. It follows then that they should use everything at their disposal to help themselves attain that end. Everything should be ordered to God's plan for them, and they should not be too quick to make life decisions until they first see if the outcome will lead them closer to what God's will is for them. The First Week follows with considerations about the heinousness of sin and the havoc it wreaks in the individual and in society, about God's constant love, and about the urgency of turning from one's old ways and attitudes to gratitude and love and to a more devout life. John O'Malley has a concise summary of the Spiritual Exercises as well as this Discernment of Spirits.

If the purpose of the First week was successfully achieved, the individuals had found a new and happier orientation at the very core of their being and were thus set more firmly than before on the path to salvation. . . . That continuing movement in fact constitutes the precondition for engaging in the next three Weeks.

Ignatius's writing his Exercises

Those Weeks were constructed with a view to confirming the First, while moving the person along to further issues. Was some other change, especially in the external framework of one's life or the kind of future one envisioned for oneself, possible, desirable, and now to be made? Such a change would not only deepen the original experience but would make one's life even more conformable to the life and teachings of Jesus, accepted by Ignatius without question as the best to which human beings could aspire.

As was Ignatius himself at Manresa, the person making the retreat was to be ''taught by God". It was surely for this reason that the individual was to have at hand only a few books such as the Gospels. [Ignatius] warns the person guiding another in the Exercises that at the time of the election he should not try to influence the outcome one way or another, for "it is more appropriate and far better that the Creator and Lord himself communicate himself to the devout soul, embracing it with love, inciting it to praise of himself, and disposing it for the way that will most enable the soul to serve him in the future". He should "allow the Creator to deal immediately with the creature, and the creature with its Creator and Lord." This immediate action of God on the individual is the fundamental premise of the Exercises. (O'Malley, 1993, p. 39-43)

It is never easy to find God's will, so the art of discernment of spirits is central to the Exercises. Discernment is not simply a matter of rational logic, but rather an understanding of how to read the signs of God's will. It provides needed inspiration and illumination for dealing with the daily struggle of good and evil within ourselves and in the world about us. Discernment of spirits becomes an important art for ongoing discovery and revelation, and it presumes a vibrant, enlightened affective life. The final experience of the Spiritual Exercises is the Contemplation to Attain Love. It consists of a final transition synthesizing the whole experience of the retreatant in a vision and daily way of life. For Ignatius the gift of God's love can be known in every human situation and experience. We can find in everything God working for us.

Jesuit College at Ingolstadt (O'Malley)

In a recent article from America magazine Ronald Modras, a professor of theological studies at Saint Louis University, speaks of the past influence of the Spiritual Exercises, the growing popularity of Jesuit spirituality in today's world and the increasing number of laity taking advantage of the opportunities to make these Exercises. He begins with the anomaly of Jesuits martyred in Elizabethan England while their inspiration, the Spiritual Exercises were more than welcome and even plagiarized.

Apparently Jesuit spirituality is not just for Roman Catholics any more. Maybe it never was. Back in 1954 Yale Professor Louis Marz pointed out in his book The Poetry of Meditation that Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises had a marked influence both on the spirituality and popular culture of Elizabethan England. Ensuing 17th-century English verse bore a similar Ignatian imprint. One finds it in the meditative poetry not only of Jesuit Robert Southwell but of such Anglicans as John Donne, George Herbert and Richard Crashaw. . . . It seems that Jesuit treatises on meditation enjoyed the same widespread popularity in late 16th-century England that they had on the continent. In England, however, the treatises had to be anonymous or falsely attributed. The Society of Jesus was outlawed, and its members were constrained to work underground. Given those undercover operations, it is not surprising that the Oxford English Dictionary gives as a secondary meaning to the word Jesuit "a dissembling person; a prevaricator." The Jesuits have come a long way from the connotations of "Jesuitical".

Ignatius and the Moor

For Jesuits there was never anything like a flight from the world. As one early Jesuit put it: "The whole world is our home." . . . I believe it is what makes them congenial at once to Episcopal bishops and their fellow non-Jesuit, even agnostic, academics. As one proximate enough to observe Jesuits close up, yet distant enough to make out the forest from the trees, I am struck time and again at what, for lack of a better term, I can only call their spiritual humanism.

There is no understanding Jesuits without some idea of Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises . . . unquestionably one of the most influential books ever written. It has been published some 4,500 times, an average of once a month for 400 years. The number of copies printed has been estimated to be some 4.5 million—despite the fact that the book is about as dry and uninspiring as a teacher's manual. For that is what the Spiritual Exercises are, a how-to handbook with a set of directions for directors on how to discern and decide amid the cacophony of conflicting voices, how to hear the voice of God who speaks in the deeper stillness of the heart; amid the many options regarding what to do with one's life, how to respond. (Modras, 1995, p. 10-16)

Ignatius meditation on the Two Standards


Jesuit Sodalities for Women as well as for Men

From the very start of the Society, Jesuit collaboration took many forms, their schools being only one. Another form included the Marian Congregations; membership in these Sodalities as they were later called, had various patterns, some for men only, some for women only and some mixed, but the goals were the same, the service to others, and their impetus came from the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius directed

many women in the Spiritual Exercises, as did the Jesuits after him. In fact he had a surprisingly sizable correspondence with women and these letters have been recently published. (Rahner, 1970) In his history of the early Jesuits, John O'Malley treats of the Sodalities and he also relates Ignatius' pioneer work for the rehabilitation of prostitutes. Many of these women were sincerely religious and were driven to their desperate situation by dire poverty.


From a painting of Ignatius outside St. Catarina's church
where Ignatius had established a home run by Nuns
for the daughters of prostitutes

The establishment of the "Marian Congregations" in 1563 surely signaled a new phase for the Jesuits. Even at the outset, the Jesuits wanted these congregations to support and promote a more deeply interiorized ethical and religious life. Jesuit reliance on the [Spiritual] Exercises gave it clear form. Of crucial importance in the Jesuit phenomenon was the fact that their congregations were not attached to parishes . . . and religious practices were chosen more freely.

Both male and female congregations followed the usual pattern of exercises in piety and works of mercy, including the women's receiving reformed prostitutes into their homes until they could be suitably placed elsewhere. . . . By 1543 Ignatius had founded in Rome Casa Santa Marta, and Jesuits elsewhere followed suit by engaging in various ways in ministry to the women. Although Ignatius is generally credited with being the first person to conceive such an institution, it seems a woman by the name of Laura Saliarda had tried to establish a similar one in Modena in 1535. (O'Malley, 1993, pp. 179, 196)

Tradition of Jesuit Education

The Jesuit tradition of education and scholarship is well known and easily documented. There are very many contributions of Jesuits and their Companions to the fields of poetry, art, architecture, music, drama, mathematics, science and other human endeavors. On the other hand, having inherited this rich tradition, our public relations offices rarely call attention to this tradition in specific detail. Our graduates are proud of their Jesuit roots and their enthusiasm is not lost on relatives, friends and acquaintances, so much so that many of today's young people are encouraged to apply to Jesuit Colleges. When they arrive, however, they ask: "What is this tradition ?" This book is a modest attempt to spell out what we are engaged in and what attracts so many to attend, which is a tradition of collaboration between Jesuit and non-Jesuit companions. Together they have influenced society, the life of the church, scholarship and the arts for the past four and a half centuries. Jesuits were responsible for the initiatives which brought about today's Jesuit schools throughout the world as well as for the many schools which had existed in the past - such as the Jesuit schools which flourished in Europe during the seventeenth century. It was, however, the collaboration with their lay Companions that brought glorious success and fame to these Jesuit schools. This was true in the earliest days of the Jesuit Society and is still true today.


France seemed less than hospitable to Jesuits
judging from the frequency of their expulsions.
Shown is the 1594 Expulsion from Paris by Henry IV
after an attempt on his life by a Jesuit alumnus.

The Suppression of the Jesuits (1773 - 1814)

The "Suppression of the Jesuits" is mentioned in this book because many of the Companions were active just prior to and during this period, 1773 - 1814. Hence, a few words of explanation seem appropriate. During their first two centuries the Jesuits were involved in an explosion of intellectual activity, engaged in over 700 schools. Then suddenly these were all lost in 1773. During the 1769 conclave the Franciscan Friar Lorenzo Ganganelli became Pope Clement XIV. Four years later, yielding to pressure from the Bourbon courts, fearing the loss of his Papal States, and anticipating that other European countries would follow the example of Henry VIII, he issued his brief Dominus ac Redemptor suppressing the Society. This religious order of 23,000 men dedicated to the service of the church was disbanded. All seminarians were sent home, all houses given away, and the Jesuit general Lorenzo Ricci was arrested and put in solitary confinement in the prison of Castel Sant' Angelo, where he died a few years later.

The unusual method of promulgation of the brief of suppression, wherein each bishop had to proclaim it to all Jesuits within his jurisdiction, caused perplexing canonical difficulties. So when Catherine, Empress of Russia, rejected the brief outright and forbade its promulgation, 200 Jesuits continued to function in Russia. The Society was restored 41 years later in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, who celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius by reading the bull Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, revoking the Suppression, in the presence of 150 elderly members of the suppressed Society. Although many of the Jesuits had died by then, the memory of their educational enterprise had not, and the new Society was flooded with requests to take over colleges: in France alone, for instance, 86 schools were offered to the Jesuits; of course they could accept only a few.

Destruction of a Jesuit school in Portugal during the Suppression

That Jesuits take their special vow of obedience to the pope quite seriously is evident from their immediate compliance with distasteful papal edicts. Clement XIV's Suppression is one example. Another occurred earlier in 1590 when Pope Sixtus V wanted to exclude Jesus from the official name of the Society. Jesuits immediately complied and offered alternate names but Sixtus died unexpectedly before his wish could be carried out. Included among these occasional papal intrusions in the Society's governance was Pope John Paul II's appointment of a delegate to govern the Society during The Superior General Arrupe's illness. So edified at the Society's immediate compliance that Pope John Paul II later lavished extraordinary praise on the Jesuit Order.

Ignatius' educational legacy lasted through and beyond the 41 year Suppression of the Jesuits and the Society returned to good health in spite of losing the massive educational apparatus they had painstakingly constructed and thousands of Jesuits who had been dispersed. This was due in part to the many lay Companions who remembered their service to the Church and helped them return to full vigor. Their collaboration continues to the present day with enthusiasm that matches the early centuries. Data available to me, however, comes from these early centuries, so my examples concern mostly the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteen centuries.

Apart from colleges and universities Jesuit collaboration extended into many other apostolic adventures among which would be included the work done with the indigenous people of the Americas. The gratitude for their assistance to Native Americans in building early communities capable of surviving the intrusion of the early settlers is exemplified in two Jesuits in Statuary Hall and in the commemorative stamps honoring their Paraguay Reductions which lasted from 1607 to 1767.

Commemorative stamps and two statues in Statuary Hall
in the Capitol at Washington, D.C. honor two Jesuit explorers.

Jacques Marquette, S.J. (1637-1675) and Eusebio Kino, S.J. (1644-1711)

Jacques Marquette, S.J. (1637-1675) was one of the first Europeans to encounter Native Americans. He spoke 6 Amerindian languages. Although he was only 38 when he died, Wisconsin dedicated a statue of Marquette in Statuary Hall in the Capitol at Washington, D.C., noting his amazing explorations and discoveries.

Eusebio Kino, S.J. (1644-1711) A 1987 Mexican stamp marks the arrival in California of this explorer (born in the Tyrol) who was one of the great cartographers and explorers of the American Southwest. An indefatigable rider Kino taught the Amerinds how to raise cattle.
Partly because of Kino, the first cowboys were Indians
Arizona dedicated a statue of Kino in Statuary Hall in the Capitol at Washington, D.C.

Jesuit settlements in Paraguay (1607 - 1767)

The ruins of the Reductions recall a glorious past which profoundly impressed even the enemies of the Society. One might ask why the Jesuits do not restore them, and then might hear the answer of John XXIII: "The mission of the Church is not to preserve the past for its own sake." The Society has always had more pressing demands on its manpower than the organization of museums. While it is sad to see apostolic and charitable works annihilated, there are always newer apostolic opportunities opening up and often with greater urgency. Many Paraguayan stamps celebrate the Works of the Jesuits in Paraguay

Stamps honoring the Jesuit settlements in Paraguay

The 18th century Reduction which is the best represented is that of Trinidad which in 1759 had a population of 2629 over 20 acres.

Santa Rosa had 2524 inhabitants by 1750 and possessed a splendid church. Now only a tower remains with walls 6 feet thick.

San Cosme, had 3346 inhabitants: This stamp shows a colonnade.

Five Chapters of the book "Companions of Jesuits"

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 1: Jesuit Tradition and the Spiritual Exercises

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 2: Artistic Expression of Jesuit Values

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 3: Jesuits Do Not Sing, But Their Companions Do

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 4: The Play's The Thing

Companions of Jesuits Chapter 5: Partners and Rivals During the Scientific Revolution


Donohue, John W., S.J. Jesuit Education. New York: Fordham, 1963

Fleming, David L. Modern Spiritual Exercises. New York: Doubleday, 1982

Fülöp-Miller, René The Power and the Secret of the Jesuits. New York: Viking, 1930

Lucas, Thomas, S.J. Ignatius, Rome and Jesuit Urbanism. Vatican: Biblioteca Apostolica, 1990

Modras, Ronald The Spiritual Humanism of the Jesuits. America, 1995, 172(3)

de Montoya, Antonio Ruis The Spiritual Conquest. Tran. by McNaspy, C.J., St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1993

O'Malley, John W. S.J. The First Jesuits. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993

Rahner, Hugo Ignatius' Letters to Women. New York: Herder & Herder, 1960

Tetlow, Joseph, S.J. Christ Choosing the World. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1989

Tetlow, Joseph, S.J. The Lay Ministry of the Spiritual Exercises. National Jesuit News, 1994, 24(3)

Return to Home Page