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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Ignacio de Loyola 1491 or 1495 1556


Ignacio de Loyola and the founding of the Jesuit order.]

The other important agency of the Spanish Counter-Reformation, the Jesuit order, was the creation of a Spaniard, Ignacio de Loyola (1491 or 1495-1556), who became Saint Ignatius (San Ignacio) with his canonization in 1609. As a youth Loyola led the somewhat wild life of a soldier. Wounded in 1521 during the defence of Pamplona from an attack of the French, he was a long time in recovering his health, devoting the period of his convalescence to the reading of religious works. He thereupon resolved to dedicate his life to religion, and as soon as he was restored to health made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Upon his return he pursued religious studies at the universities of Barcelona, Alcal?, Salamanca, and Paris. While at Alcal?, where he and several companions made a practice of wearing sackcloth and preaching in the streets, he was arrested by the Inquisition, but was set free without other penalty than an order to give up his sackcloth and his preaching. A similar fate befell him in Salamanca. Eventually Loyola and his companions found their way to Rome, where they continued their street preaching, despite the opposition of the Augustinian order and some of the cardinals. They applied to themselves the name "Company of Jesus" (hence Jesuits), and in 1539 organized an order in military form, vowing implicit obedience to their superiors,--especially to the pope,--prescribing the rule of a general

for life, and pledging themselves to the founding of colleges. The new order was formally approved by the pope in 1540, and Loyola became the first general.

[Sidenote: Characteristics of the Jesuit order.]

While an extended discussion of the characteristics of the Jesuit order is not necessary, some of the respects in which it differed from the others should be pointed out, in order to make clear the effect of the Jesuit appearance in Spain and the Americas. Great emphasis was placed on the military side; Loyola was wont to say that he had never ceased to be a soldier,--he had merely become a soldier of God. Obedience to superiors and to the pope was not a new idea, but with the Jesuits it was as rigidly literal as in an army. They became one of the principal supports of the popes at a time when many church leaders were advocating the reform of the papacy with a view to limiting the powers of the head of the church. Like soldiers, they attacked the enemies of the pope, church, and the Catholic religion, and were charged with employing methods which gave rise to the term "Jesuitry" in an opprobrious sense. They did not stay in convents, but went forth among the people to fight for the principles for which they stood. There was no election of their leaders; the attainment of office came through appointment by the general, who even chose his own successor. Education was their principal weapon,--education of the high and the low. In other respects the Jesuits were at the same time more simple and more mundane in their exterior practices--at least in the beginning--than the other orders. They opposed choral singing, the wearing of a distinctive habit, participation in religious processions, the monastic life, and asceticism. They believed in the individual poverty of their members, but were willing that the order and its separate institutions should prosper in a material way. In other words they were going into the world, not away from it, and were desirous of the best equipment for the struggle which lay before them.

[Sidenote: Spanish opposition to the Jesuits.]

The influence of the new

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