Founding Of The Jesuits
Author: Taylor, Isaac

Founding Of The Jesuits

1540

Toward the middle of the sixteenth century definite utterance began to be
given to a widespread feeling in the Church that the old monastic orders were
no longer fulfilling their purpose. Suggestions of new orders were
entertained by the church authorities, and plans for their formation - not to
supersede but to supplement the old - began to assume shape.

Meanwhile an enthusiastic Spanish soldier, who had renounced the
profession of arms, independently gathered about himself the nucleus of what
was to be one of the most famous orders in the history of the Church. This
organization, called the Company (or Society) of Jesus, but better known to
many as the Order of Jesuits, owes its foundation primarily to Ignatius de
Loyola (Inigo Lopez de Recalde), who was born at the castle of Loyola,
Guipuzcoa, Spain, in 1491. After being educated as a page at the court of
Ferdinand, he joined the army, and during his recovery from a wound received
at Pamplona in 1521, he became imbued with spiritual ardor and dedicated
himself to the service of the Virgin. Henceforth the "fiery Ignatius" devoted
himself to the pursuit and, as he believed, the purification of religion.

In 1528 he entered the University of Paris, and there, with a few
associates, in 1534 he projected the new religious order, which in 1540 was
confirmed by the Pope. The Constitution of the Order and Spiritual Exercises
were written by him in Spanish. The object of these comrades was to battle
for the Church in that time of religious warfare, to stop the spread of
heresy, and especially to stay the progress of Protestantism and win back
those who had abandoned the old faith. Exempting themselves from the routine
of monastic duties, the members of the new order were to have freedom for
preaching, hearing confessions, and educating the young.

After considering and abandoning various plans for work abroad, the band
of fathers at last decided to devote themselves to serving the Church within
its own domains, and the first step was a visit of some members of the
fraternity to Rome for the purpose of obtaining papal confirmation.

Loyola himself, with his chosen colleagues, Faber and Lainez, undertook
the mission to Rome, while the eight others were to disperse themselves
throughout Northern Italy, and especially to gain a footing, if they could,
and to acquire influence at those seats of learning where the youth of Italy
were to be met with; such as Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, Siena, and Vicenza.
Surprising effects resulted, it is said, from these labors; but we turn toward
the three fathers, Ignatius, Lainez, and Faber, who were now making their way
on foot to Rome.

If Loyola's course of secular study, and if his various engagements as
evangelist and as chief of a society, had at all chilled his devotional ardor,
or had drawn his thoughts away from the unseen world, this fervor and this
upward direction of the mind now returned to him in full force: we are assured
that, on this pilgrimage, and "through favor of the Virgin," his days and
nights were passed in a sort of continuous ecstasy. As they drew toward the
city, and while upon the Siena road, he turned aside to a chapel, then in a
ruinous condition, and which he entered alone. Here ecstasy became more
ecstatic still; and, in a trance, he believed himself very distinctly to see
Him whom, as holy Scripture affirms, "no man hath seen at any time." By the
side of this vision of the invisible appeared Jesus, bearing a huge cross. The
Father presents Ignatius to the Son, who utters the words, so full of meaning,
"I will be favorable to you at Rome."

It is no agreeable task thus to compromise the awful realities of
religion, and thus to perplex the distinctions which a religious mind wishes
to observe between truth and illusion; yet it seems inevitable to narrate that
which comes before us, as an integral and important portion of the history we
have to do with. And yet incidents such as these, while they will be very far
from availing to bring us over as converts to the system which they are
supposed supernaturally to authenticate, need not generate any extreme
revulsion of feeling in an opposite direction. Good men, ill-trained, or
trained under a system which to so great an extent is factitious, demand from
us often, we do not say that which an enlightened Christian charity does not
include, but a something which is logically distinguishable from it; we mean a
philosophic habit of mind, accustomed to deal with human nature, and with its
wonderful inconsistencies, on the broadest principles.

Some diversities of language present themselves in the narratives that
have come down to us of this vision. In that which, perhaps, is worthy of the
most regard, the phraseology is such as to suggest the belief that its exact
meaning should not easily be gathered from the words. Loyola had asked of the
blessed Virgin, "ut eum cum filio suo poneret"; and during this trance this
request, whatever it might mean, was manifestly granted.

From this vision, and from the memorable words "Ego vobis Romae propitius
ero," the society may be said to have taken its formal commencement, and to
have drawn its appellation. Henceforward it was the "Society of Jesus," for
its founder, introduced to the Son of God by the eternal Father, had been
orally assured of the divine favor - favor consequent upon his present visit
to Rome. Here, then, we have exposed to our view the inner economy or divine
machinery of the Jesuit Institute. The Mother of God is the primary
mediatrix; the Father, at her intercession, obtains for the founder an
auspicious audience of the Son; and the Son authenticates the use to be made
of his name in this instance; and so it is that the inchoate order is to be
the "Society of Jesus."

An inquiry, to which in fact no certain reply could be given, obtrudes
itself upon the mind on an occasion like this; namely, how far the infidelity
and atheism which pervaded Europe in the next and the following century sprung
directly out of profanation such as this? Merely to narrate them, and to do
so in the briefest manner, does violence to every genuine sentiment of piety.
What must have been the effect produced upon frivolous and sceptical tempers
when with sedulous art such things were put forward as solemn verities not to
be distinguished from the primary truths of religion, and entitled to the same
reverential regard in our minds!

Loyola, although thus warranted, as he thought, in assuming for his order
so peculiar and exclusive a designation, used a discreet reserve at the first
in bringing it forward, lest he should wound the self-love of rival bodies, or
seem to be challenging for his company a superiority over other religious
orders. So much caution as this his experience would naturally suggest to
him; and that he felt the need of it is indicated by what he is reported to
have said as he entered Rome. Although the words so recently pronounced still
sounded in his ear, "Ego vobis Romae propitius ero," yet as he set foot within
the city he turned to his companions and said, with a solemn significance of
tone, "I see the windows shut!" - meaning that they should there meet much
opposition, and find occasion for the exercise of prudence and of patient
endurance of sufferings; of prudence, not less than of patience.

But while care was to be taken not to draw toward themselves the envious
or suspicious regards of the religious orders or of ecclesiastical potentates,
there was even a more urgent need of discretion in avoiding those occasions of
scandal which might spring from their undertaking the cure of the souls of the
other sex. Into what jeopardy of their saintly reputation had certain eminent
men fallen in this very manner; and how narrowly had they escaped the heaviest
imputations! The fathers were not to take upon themselves the office of
confessors to women - "nisi essent admodum illustres." That the risk must
necessarily be less, or that there would be none in the instance of ladies of
high rank, is not conspicuously certain; but if not, what were those special
motives which should warrant the fathers in incurring this peril in such
cases? Mere Christian charity would undoubtedly impel a man to meet danger
for the welfare of the soul of a poor sempstress as readily as for that of a
duchess or the mistress of a monarch. If, therefore, the peril is to be braved
in the one case which ought to be evaded in other, there must be present some
motive of which Christian charity knows nothing. So acutely alive was Loyola
to the evils that might spring to his order from this source that we find him
at a later period not merely rejecting ladies, "admodum illustres," but
bearding the Pope and the cardinals, and glaringly contravening his own vow of
unconditional obedience to the Vicar of Christ, rather than give way to the
solicitations of fair and noble penitents.

Soon after the arrival of the three - i.e., Loyola, Faber, and Lainez -
at Rome, in the year 1537, they obtained an audience of the Pope, who welcomed
their return, and gave anew his sanction to their endeavors. Faber and Lainez
received appointments as theological professors in the gymnasium; while Loyola
addressed himself wholly to the care of souls and to the reform of abuses. To
several persons of distinction and to some dignitaries of the Church he
administered the discipline of the Spiritual Exercises, they, for this
purpose, withdrawing to solitudes in the neighborhood of Rome, where they were
daily conversed with and instructed by himself. At the same time he labored
in hospitals, schools, and private houses to induce repentance and to cherish
the languishing piety of those who would listen to him. Among such, who fully
surrendered their souls to his guidance, were the Spanish procurator Peter
Ortiz and Cardinal Gaspar Contarini, both of whom were led by him into a
course of fervent devotion in which they persisted, and they, moreover,
continued to use their powerful influence in favor of the infant society.

The pulpits of many of the churches in the several cities where the
fathers had stationed themselves, and some in Rome, had been opened to their
use, and the energy and the freshness of their eloquence affected the popular
mind in an extraordinary manner; sometimes, indeed, they brought upon
themselves violent opposition, but in more frequent instances, their zeal and
patient assiduity triumphing over prejudice, jealousy, ecclesiastical
inertness, and voluptuousness, the tide of feeling set in with this new
impulse, and a commencement was effectively made of that Catholic revival
which spread itself throughout Southern Europe, turned back the Reformation
wave, saved the papacy, and secured for Christendom the still needed
antagonist influence of the Romish and of the reformed systems of doctrine,
worship, and polity.

At Rome, Loyola, by his personal exertions, effected great reforms in
liturgical services - induced a more frequent and devout attention to the
sacraments of confession and the eucharist; established and promoted the
catechetical instruction of youth; and, in a word, restored to Romanism much
of its vitality.

The author and mover of so much healthful change did not escape the
persecutions that are the lot of reformers. Such trials Loyola encountered,
and passed through triumphantly - so we are assured; but in listening to the
Jesuit writers, when telling their own story, where the credit of the order
and the reputation of its founder are deeply implicated, it is with
reservation that we follow them.

So fearful a storm - yet a storm long before descried, it is said, by
Loyola - fell suddenly upon him and his colleagues that it seemed as if the
infant society could by no means resist the impetuous torrent that assailed
it. The populace, as well as persons in authority, suddenly gave heed to
rumors most startling which came in at once from Spain, from France, and from
the North of Italy, and the purport of which was to throw upon the fathers the
most grievous imputations affecting their personal character as well as their
doctrine. These men were reported to be heretics, Lutherans in disguise,
seducers of youth, and men of flagitious life.

The author or secret mover of this assault is said to have been a
Piedmontese monk of the Augustinian order, himself a secret favorer of the
Lutheran heresy and "a tool of Satan," and who at last, throwing off the mask,
avowed himself a Lutheran. This man, for the purpose of diverting from
himself the suspicions of which his mode of preaching had made him the object
at Rome, raised this outcry against Loyola and his companions, affirming of
them slanderously and falsely what was quite true as to himself.

The Pope and the court having been absent for some time from Rome, this
disguised heresiarch had seized the opportunity for gaining the ear of the
populace by inveighing against the vices of ecclesiastics, and insinuating
opinions to which he gave a color of truth by citations from Scripture and the
early fathers. Two of Loyola's colleagues, Salmeron and Lainez, who in their
passage through Germany had become skilled in detecting Lutheran pravity, were
deputed to listen to this noisy preacher; they did so, and reported that the
audacious man was, under some disguise of terms, broaching rank Lutheranism in
the very heart of Rome. Loyola, however, determined to treat the heresiarch
courteously, and therefore sent him privately an admonition to abstain from a
course which occasioned so much scandal, and which could not but afflict
Catholic ears. The preacher took fire at this remonstrance, and openly
attacked those who had dared thus to rebuke him.

Thus attacked, Loyola and his colleagues, on their side, loudly
maintained the great points of Catholic doctrine impugned by this preacher,
such as the merit and necessity of good works, the validity of religious vows,
and the supreme authority of the Church; and in consequence it became
extremely difficult on his part to ward off the imputation of Lutheranism or
to make it appear that he was anything else than a self-condemned heretic. He,
however, so far commanded the popular mind that he maintained his reputation
and his influence, and actually succeeded in rendering his accusers the
objects of almost universal suspicion or hatred. Their powerful friends
forsook them; all stood aloof, or all but a Spaniard named Garzonio, who,
having lodged Loyola and some of his companions under his roof, knew well
their soundness in the faith and their personal piety. Through his timely
intervention the cardinal-dean of the sacred college was induced to inform
himself, by a personal interview, of their doctrine and life.

This dignitary was satisfied, and more than satisfied, of the innocence
and piety of the fathers. Nevertheless, Loyola, looking far forward, and
knowing well what detriment to his order might arise in remote quarters from
slanders not authoritatively refuted and disallowed, demanded to be confronted
with his accusers before the ecclesiastical authorities. He would be content
with no vague and irregular expression of approval - he would accept no half
acquittal. He sought, and at length obtained, an official exculpation in the
amplest terms, with an acknowledgment of his orthodoxy on the part of the
highest authority on earth, and this was granted under circumstances that gave
it universal notoriety.

In court the principal witness was confounded by proof, under his own
hand, of the falseness of the allegation he had advanced; and at the same time
testimonials from the highest quarters in favor of the fathers, severally and
individually, arrived opportunely; in a word, the society, in this early and
signal instance, triumphed over its assailants, and thenceforward it occupied
a position the most lofty and commanding in the view of the Catholic world.
Loyola and his colleagues saw the ruin of their adversaries, two of whom,
falling into the hands of the inquisitors, were burned as heretics.

The time was now come for effecting a permanent organization of the
society and for installing a chief at its head. With these purposes in view,
Loyola summoned his colleagues to Rome from the cities of Italy where they
were severally laboring. The fathers being assembled, he commended to them
anew the proposal which they had already accepted, but which he seemed anxious
to fix irrevocably upon their consciences by often-repeated challenges of the
most solemn kind. To impart the more solemnity to this repetition of their
mutual engagements, and to preclude, by all means, the possibility of
retraction, he advised that several days should be devoted to preliminary
prayer and fasting, during which season each should, with an absolute
surrender of himself to the will of God, await passively the manifestation of
that will.

"Heaven," said Loyola to his companions, "heaven has forbidden Palestine
to our zeal - nevertheless that zeal burns with increasing intensity from day
to day. Should we not hence infer that God has called us - not, indeed, to
undertake the conversion of one nation or of a country, but of all the people
and of all the kingdoms of the world?"

Such was the founder's profession and such the limits of his ambition.
The spiritual mechanism which he had devised, and which he was now putting in
movement, intends nothing that is partial or circumscribed; its very purport
is universality; it is absolutism carried out until it has embraced the human
family and has brought every human spirit into its toils.

But so small a band could hope for no success that should be indicative
of ultimate triumph unless they would surrender themselves individually to a
common will, which should be to each of them as the will of God, articulately
pronounced. After renewing, therefore, the vows of poverty, of chastity, and
of unconditional obedience to the Pope, the fathers assented to the proposal
that one of their number should, by the suffrages of all, be constituted the
superior or general of the order, and as such be invested with an authority as
absolute as it was possible for man to exercise or for men to submit to. Yet
to whose hands should be assigned - and for life - this irresponsible power
over the bodies, souls, and understandings of his companions?

It had not been until after a lengthened preparation of fasting, prayer,
and night-watching that a resolution so appalling had been formed. Yet it was
easier to consent to the proposal, abstractedly placed before them, than to
yield themselves to all its undefined and irrevocable consequences, when the
awful surrender of what is most precious to man - his individuality - was to
be made, not to a chief unnamed, but to this or that one among themselves. To
whose hands could the ten consign the irresponsible disposal of their souls
and bodies? They had, however, already advanced too far to recede. They had,
as they believed, in humble imitation of Christ the Lord, offered themselves
as a living sacrifice to God - so far as concerned the body - by the vow of
poverty and the vow of chastity. They had thus immolated the flesh, and had
reserved to themselves nothing of worldly possessions, nothing of earthly
solaces; all had been laid upon the altar. They, had, moreover professed
their willingness to deposit there their very souls. The vow of unconditional
obedience, as thus understood, was a holocaust of the immortal well-being.
Each now, as an offering acceptable to God, was to pawn his interest in time
and eternity, putting the pledge into the hands of one to be chosen by
themselves. It was debated whether this absolute power should be conferred
upon the holder of it for life or for a term of years only, and whether in the
fullest sense it should be without conditions, or whether it should be limited
by constitutional forms. At length, however, the election of a general for
life was assented to, and especially for this reason - and it is well to note
it - that the new society had been devised and formed for the very purpose of
carrying forward vast designs which must demand a long course of years for
their development and execution; and that no one who must look forward to the
probable termination of his generalship at the expiration of a few years could
be expected to undertake, or to prosecute with energy, any such far-reaching
project. On the contrary, he should be allowed to believe that the limits of
his life alone need be thought of as bounding his holy ambition. Provisions
were made, however, for holding some sort of control over the individual to
whom so much power was to be intrusted. The actual election of Loyola to the
generalship did not formally take place until after the time when the order
had received pontifical authentication. Meantime, all implicitly regarded him
as their master; from him emanated the acts of the body; and to him was
assigned the task - aided by Lainez - of preparing what should be the
constitutions of the society.

During the interval between the concerted organization of the order and
the formal recognition of Loyola as the general he found several occasions
highly favorable for extending and for enhancing his influence, as well among
the common people as among ecclesiastical dignitaries. One such opportunity
was afforded, soon after the above-mentioned exculpation of the fathers, by
the occurrence of a famine during an unusually severe winter. The streets of
Rome presented the spectacle of hundreds of half-naked and starving wretches
who fruitlessly implored aid or who silently expired unaided. Loyola and his
colleagues, themselves subsisting from day to day on alms, felt often - we are
told - the nip of hunger, yet they needed no incitement which these scenes of
woe did not spontaneously supply. They were at once alive to the claims of
humanity and to the requirements of Christian duty. They begged for the
perishing, took them to such shelter as was at their command, carefully and
tenderly ministered to the sick, and, withal, used the advantage which these
offices of kindness afforded them for purposes of religious instruction.
Hundreds, rescued from death through cold and hunger, were thus brought to
repentance on the path which the Church prescribes. A great impression in
favor of the Jesuit fathers was made upon all classes by this course of
conduct. In humanity, self-denying assiduity, and Christian zeal they had
immeasurably surpassed any who might have pretended rivalry with them.

It was now, therefore, that Loyola sought from the Pontiff that formal
recognition which his personal assurances of regard and approval seemed to
show he could not refuse. Paul III was, however, cautious in this instance,
and seemed unwilling to commit himself and the Church at this critical moment,
except so far as he knew himself to be supported by the feeling and opinion of
those of the cardinals whom he most regarded. He referred Loyola's petition
to three of them. The first of these was Barthelemi Guidiccioni, who had
often declared himself to be decisively opposed to the multiplication of
religious orders. The Church, he thought, had too many of these excrescences
already, and, instead of adding another to the number, he would gladly have
reduced them all to four. His two colleagues were easily induced to concur
with him in this opinion, and thus it appeared as if the infant society,
notwithstanding the advances it had lately made in securing the good opinion
of persons of high rank, as well as in winning popular applause, was little
likely to receive what was indispensable to its permanent establishment - a
papal bull in its favor.

Personally, however, the Pope did not conceal his cordial feeling toward
Loyola and his companions. He seems to have perceived clearly that these men,
resolute in their punctilious adherence to the doctrine and ritual of the
Church, and committed by the most solemn engagements to its service -
deep-purposed as they were, full of a well-governed energy, resolute in the
performance of the most arduous duties, and, moreover, highly accomplished in
secular and sacred learning - were the very instruments which the Church had
need of in this crisis of its fate. Northern Europe was irrecoverably lost;
Germany and Switzerland were held to Catholicism at points only; while France
and Northern Italy were listening to the seductions of heresy. Scarcely could
it be said, even of Spain, that it was clear of the same infection. The
Church ought then, at such a moment, to embrace cordially, and by all means to
favor, the efforts of men like Loyola and his distinguished companions.

It was with this feeling that Paul III, while held back by his advisers
from the course he would have adopted, went as far as he could in promoting
and extending the influence of the society. At the same moment application
had been made, on the part of several potentates, for the services of the
fathers, who had already gained a high reputation at the courts near to which
they had exercised their ministry. It was seen and understood by princes that
these were the men - and these almost alone - to whom might be confided those
arduous tasks which the perils of the times continually presented: none so
well furnished as these fathers; none so self-denying and laborious; none so
uncompromising in the maintenance of their principles. They were, therefore,
despatched in various directions, and with the papal sanction, to undertake
offices more or less spiritual, and in some instances purely secular. It was
thus that a commencement was made in that course which has thrown unlimited
power into the hands of the society, and which again has brought upon it
suspicion, hatred, and reiterated ruin.

But the most noted of these appointments was that which, in sending, as
by an accident, Francis Xavier to India, detached from the Jesuit society the
man who, had he remained at home, must have imparted his own character to its
constitutions, and have guided its movements, and who probably would have
dislodged Loyola from the generalship, and have held Lainez and Faber in a
subordinate position. Not merely did Xavier's departure allow Jesuitism to
take its form from the hands of these three, but it conferred upon the
society, from a very early date, theincalculable advantage of that reflected
power and reputation which the Indian missions secured for it. Xavier's
apostleship in the East, with its real and with its romantic and exaggerated
glories, was a fund upon which the society at home allowed itself to draw
without limit. If it be admitted that Xavier effected something real for
Christianity in pagan India, it may be affirmed that he accomplished at the
same time, though indirectly, far more for Jesuitism throughout Europe. This
course of events, so signal in its consequences as favoring the development
and rapid extension of the Jesuit scheme throughout Christendom, and which yet
could not be attributed to any forethought or machination on the part of
Loyola, is well deserving of a distinct notice.

The train of circumstances, as related and affirmed by the Jesuit
writers, excludes the supposition of its taking its rise in any plot or
intention. John III of Portugal - a religious prince - had long entertained
the project of stretching the empire of the Church over those regions which
his valiant and enterprising people were subjecting to his secular sway. In
modern phraseology, he piously desired to consecrate his military triumphs in
the East by spreading the Gospel among the subjugated heathen. His royal wish
and Intention had become known to Loyola's friend Govea, who wrote to him from
Paris on the subject. This letter was as a spark at contact with which
Loyola's zeal burst forth in a flame. He replied, however, that, as he and
his companions had now solemnly surrendered themselves to the absolute and
unconditional disposal of the Vicar of Christ, they could attempt nothing
spontaneously. It is easy to imagine how speedily this declaration, conveyed
to Govea, would produce its effect, would come round to its destination, and
would assume the form of a pontifical injunction addressed to Loyola to
despatch some of the fathers to the court of John, there to await the pleasure
of so religious a prince. Six missionaries had been asked for. Loyola, with
the consent of the Pope, assigned two - Rodriquez and Bobadilla - to his
service. The latter, however, falling ill - so it is affirmed - Francis
Xavier was appointed in his place. Xavier, it is said, leaped for joy when
summoned, at a moment, to set out toward Portugal commissioned to convert
India to the Christian faith. A few hours sufficed for his preparations; by
noon of the next day he had sewed the tatters of his attire with his own hand,
had packed his bundle, had bid adieu to his friends, and was forward on the
road to Lisbon. Upon this desperate enterprise he set forward with his eye
steadily fixed upon objects far more remote and more dazzling than the sunny
plains of Hindostan. The immeasurable difficulty of his mission was to him
its excitement; its dangers brightened in his view into martyrdom; its toils
were to be his ease; its privations his solace, and despair the aliment of his
hope. But at this initial point of his course we must take leave of Francis
Xavier - the prince of missionaries. Bobadilla, with Loyola's consent,
remained in Portugal, where his zeal found scope enough.

At length - but it does not appear in what manner this change of opinion
had been brought about - Cardinal Guidiccioni professed himself favorable to
the suit of Loyola; probably an enhanced conviction that the Romish hierarchy
was encountering a peril which called for extraordinary measures, and that the
new order was likely to meet the occasion, had prevailed over considerations
less urgent and of a more general kind. This opponent gained, no obstacle
remained to be overcome. On October 3, 1540 (or September 27th), was issued
the bull which gave ecclesiastical existence to the new order under the name
of the "Company of Jesus." At the first the society was forbidden to admit
more than sixty professed members, but three years later another bull removed
entirely this restriction.

The time was now come when the decisive step must be taken which should
enable the new institute to realize its intention, which should render
Jesuitism Jesuitism indeed. This was the election of a chief, individually,
who thenceforward should be absolute lord of the bodies and souls, the will
and wellbeing, of all the members. Until this election should be made and
ratified, the society was a project only; it would then become a dread
reality.

Those of the fathers who could leave their functions at foreign courts -
and these were three only - were summoned to Rome; those who could not attend
there sent forward their votes. But in what manner are we to deal with the
account that is presented to us of that which took place on this occasion?
How is it to be made to consist either with the straightforwardness and
simplicity of intention that are the characteristics of great and noble
natures, or how with those maxims of guilelessness which Christianity so much
approves? The problem admits of only a partial and unsatisfactory solution;
nor can we advance even so far as this unless we make a very large allowance
in favor of Loyola personally, on the ground of the ill influence of the
system within which he had received his moral and religious training. He
conducted himself after the fashion of his Church: this must be his apology.

It was he, unquestionably, who had conceived the primary idea of the
society. He was author of the book which constitutes its germ and law, the
Spiritual Exercises. He had been principal in digesting the constitutions, or
actual code, of the society. It was he, individually, whom the others had
always regarded as their leader and teacher. His personal influence was the
cement which held the parts in union. It was Loyola who, while his colleagues
dispersed themselves throughout Europe, remained in Rome, there to manage the
common interests of all, and to carry forward those negotiations with the
papal court which were of vital importance and of the highest difficulty. In
a word, it was he who had convoked this meeting to elect a chief and who asked
the proxies of the absent. Are we then to believe that this bold spirit, this
far-seeing mind, this astute, inventive, and politic Ignatius, born to rule
other minds, and able always to subjugate his own will; that this contriver of
a despotism, after having carried the principle of unconditional obedience,
after having won the consent of his companions to the proposal that their
master should be their master for life - are we to believe that he had never
imagined it as probable (much less wished) that the choice of his compeers
should fall upon himself, or that he had peremptorily resolved, in such a
case, to reject the proffered sovereignty? Surely those writers - the
champions of the society - use us cruelly who demand that we should believe so
much as this.

Le Jay, Brouet, Lainez, and Loyola were those who personally appeared on
this occasion. The absent members sent their votes in sealed letters. Three
days having passed in prayer and silence, the four assembled on the fourth
day, when the votes were ascertained. All but Loyola's own were in his favor;
he voted for the one who should carry the majority of votes.

Loyola, we are told, was in an equal degree distressed and amazed in
discovering what was in the minds of his colleagues. He, indeed, to be
general of the Society of Jesus! - how strange and preposterous a supposition!
Positively he could think of no such thing. What a life had he led before his
conversion! How abounding in weaknesses had been his course since! How could
he aspire to rule others, who so poorly could rule himself? Days of prayer
must yet be devoted to the purpose of imploring the divine aid in directing
the minds of all toward one who should indeed be qualified for so arduous an
office. At the end of this term Loyola was a second time elected, and again
refused to comply with the wishes of his friends. He would barely admit their
importunities; they could scarcely bring themselves to listen to his contrary
reasons. Time passed on, and there seemed a danger lest the society should go
adrift upon the rocks even in its first attempt to reach deep water. At
length Loyola agreed to submit himself to the direction of his confessor. He
might thus, perhaps, find it possible to thrust himself through his scruples
by the loophole of passive obedience, for he already held himself bound to
comply with the injunctions of his spiritual guide, be they what they might.

This good man, therefore, a father Theodosius of the communion of Minor
Brethren, is constituted arbiter of the destinies of the Society of Jesus. To
his ear Loyola confides all the reasons, irresistible as they were, which
forbade his compliance with the will of his friends. The confessor listens
patiently to the long argument, but sets the whole of it at naught. In a word
he declares that Loyola, in declining the proffered generalship, is fighting
against God. Further resistance would have been a flagrant impiety.

The installation of the general was carried forward in a course of
services held in the seven principal churches of Rome, and with extraordinary
solemnity in the Church of St. Paul without the city, April 23, 1541. On this
occasion the vows of perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience were renewed
before the altar of the Virgin, where Loyola administered the communion to his
brethren, they having vowed absolute obedience to him, and he the same to the
Pope.

 

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