A brief guide to the religious order of Pope Francis.
Founded in the 16th century by St. Ignatius Loyola, the “Society of Jesus” is one of the most widely known religious orders around the world.
It all started with St. Ignatius, a Spanish nobleman who experienced a radical conversion, turning his life completely around to follow Jesus Christ. Eventually Ignatius felt called by God to form a new “company” of men who would be brave “soldiers” for Christ, preaching the Gospel and practicing charity wherever they went.
Here is a brief guide to the Jesuits, detailing the basics of this well-known religious order.
Names & Abbreviations: Society of Jesus, S.J.; Jesuits, Companions of Jesus, Black Robes
Date of Foundation(s): 1540
Founder(s): St. Ignatius Loyola (St. Francis Xavier, St. Peter Faber)
Motto & Charism: Ad majorem Dei gloriam (For the greater glory of God)
According to the Jesuits’ website, “Jesuits draw on the rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality and reflection. In our retreat centers, parishes, campus ministries, and other settings, we offer these resources to all who want to discern God’s presence in their lives. At the same time, we also aim to be ‘contemplatives in action,’ people who bring this spirituality into the wide world. That includes our work on behalf of global justice, peace, and dialogue.”
Furthermore, the Jesuits have unique vows, “of poverty, chastity and obedience — and a fourth vow of obedience specifically in regard to worldwide mission. In other words, Jesuits must be ready to accept whatever mission the Pope requires, a vow that is reflective of our broader dedication to the universal Church, and to the greater good of all people from all faiths and cultures.”
Jesuits are known for their great universities for the elite of society as well as their schools open to the poor and children. In this way, Jesuits strive to minister to all God’s people from every social class, having a special care for the most vulnerable.
Throughout history Jesuits have been brave missionaries, spreading the Catholic faith to all corners of the globe.
Examples of Jesuit Provinces: USA North-East Province of the Society of Jesus, USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, USA Central-Southern Province of the Society of Jesus, USA West Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits of English Speaking Canada, Jesuits in Britain, Jesuits in Ireland, Jesuits, Society of Jesus Australia
Famous Jesuits: St. Francis Xavier, St. Peter Faber, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. John Berchmans, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Peter Canisius, St. Edmund Campion, North American Martyrs, etc.