History of the Jesuits Before the 1773 Suppression
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The history of the Jesuits in Italy was generally very peaceful. The only serious disturbances were those arising from the occasional quarrels of the civil governments with the ecclesiastical powers. St. Ignatius' first followers were immediately in great request to instruct the faithful, and to reform the clergy, monasteries, and convents. Though there was little organized or deep-seated mischief, the amount of lesser evils was immense; the possibility here and there of a catastrophe was evident. While the preachers and missionaries evangelized the country, colleges were established at Padua, Venice, Naples, Bologna, Florence, Parma, and other cities. On 20 April 1555, the University of Ferrara addressed to the Sorbonne a most remarkable testimony in favor of the order. St. Charles Borromeo was, after the popes, perhaps the most generous of all the patrons, and they freely put their best talents at his disposal. (For the difficulties about his seminary and with Fr. Guillo Mazarino, see Sylbain, "Hist. de S. Charles", iii, 53.) Juan de Vega, ambassador of Charles V at Rome, had learnt to know and esteem Ignatius there, and when he was appointed Viceroy of Sicily he brought Jesuits with him. A college was opened at Messina ; success was marked, and its rules and methods were afterwards copied in other colleges. After fifty years the Society counted in Italy 86 houses and 2550 members. The chief trouble in Italy occurred in Venice at 1606, when Paul V laid the city under interdict for serious breaches of ecclesiastical immunities. The Jesuits and some other religious retired from the city, and the Senate, inspired by Paolo Sarpi, the disaffected friar, passed a decree of perpetual banishment against them. In effect, though peace was made ere long with the pope, it was fifty years before the Society could return. Italy, during the first two centuries of the Society was still the most cultured country in Europe, and the Italian Jesuits enjoyed a high reputation for learning and letters. The elder Segneri is considered the first of Italian preachers, and there are a number of others of the first class. Maffei, Torellino, Strada, Palavicino, and Bartoli have left historical works which are still highly prized. Between Bellarmine (d. 1621) and Zaccharia (d. 1795) Italian Jesuits of note in theology, controversy, and subsidiary sciences are reckoned by the score. They also claim a large proportion of the saints, martyrs, generals, and missionaries. (See also BELECIUS; BOLGENI; BOSCOVICH ; POSSEVINUS; SCARAMELLI; VIVA.) Italy was divided into five provinces, with the following figures for the year 1749 (shortly before the beginning of the movement for the suppression of the Society ); Rome 848; Naples 667; Sicily 775; Venice 707; Milan 625; total 3622 members, about one-half of whom were priests, with 178 houses.
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Though the majority of Ignatius' companions were Spaniards, he did not gather them together in Spain, and the first Jesuits paid only passing visits there. In 1544, however, Father Aroaz, cousin of St. Ignatius and a very eloquent preacher, came with six companions, and then their success was rapid. On 1 September, 1547, Ignatius established the province of Spain with seven houses and about forty religious; St. Francis Borgia joined in 1548; in 1550, Lainez accompanied the Spanish troops in their African campaign. With rapid success came unexpected opposition. Melchior Cano, O.P., a theologian of European reputation, attacked the young order, which could make no effective reply, nor could anyone get the professor to keep the peace. But, very unpleasant as the trial was, it eventually brought advantage to the order, as it advertised it well in university circles, and moreover drew out defenders of unexpected efficiency, as Juan de la Peña of the Dominicans, and even their general, Fra Francisco Romero. The Jesuits continued to prosper, and Ignatius subdivided (29 September, 1554) the existing province into three, containing twelve houses and 139 religious. Yet there were internal troubles both here and in Portugal under Simon Rodriguez, which gave the founder anxieties. In both countries the first houses had been established before the Constitutions and rules were committed to writing. It was inevitable therefore that the discipline introduced by Aroaz and Rodriguez should have differed somewhat from that which was being introduced by Ignatius at Rome. In Spain, the good offices of Borgia and the visits of Father Nadal did much to effect a gradual unification of the system, though not without difficulty. These troubles, however, affected the higher officials of the order rather than the rank and file, who were animated by the highest motives. The great preacher Ramirez is said to have attracted 500 vocations to religious orders at Salamanca in the year 1564, about 50 of them to the Society. There were 300 Spanish Jesuits at the death of Ignatius in 1556; and 1200 at the close of Borgia's generalate in 1572. Under the non-Spanish generals who followed, there was an unpleasant recrudescence of the nationalistic spirit. Considering the quarrels which daily arose between Spain and other nations, there can be no wonder at such ebullitions. As has been explained under Acquaviva, Philip of Spain lent his aid to the discontented parties, of whom the virtuous José de Acosta was the spokesman, Fathers Hernéndez, Dionysius Vásquez, Henríquez, and Mariana the real leaders. Their ulterior object was to secure a separate comissary-general for Spain. This trouble was not quieted till the fifth congregation, 1593, after which ensued the great debates de auxiliis with the Dominicans, the protagonists on both sides being Spaniards. (See Congregatio de Auxiliis ; Grace, Controversies on.)
Serious as these troubles were in their own sphere, they must not be allowed to obscure the fact that in the Society, as in all Catholic organizations of that day, Spaniards played the greatest roles. When we enumerate their great men and their great works, they defy all comparison. This comparisons gains further force when we remember that the success of the Jesuits in Flanders and in the parts of Italy then united with the Spanish crown was largely due to Spanish Jesuits ; and the same is true of the Jesuits in Portugal, which country with its far-stretching colonies was also under the Spanish crown from 1581 to 1640, though neither the organization of the Portuguese Jesuits nor the civil government of the country itself was amalgamated with those of Spain. But it was in the more abstract sciences that the Spanish genius shone with the greatest lustre; Toledo (d. 1596), Molina (1600), de Valentia (1603), Vásquez (1604), Francisco Suárez (1617), Ripalda (1648), de Lugo (1660) (qq.v.)--these form a group of unsurpassed brilliance, and there are quite a number of others almost equally remarkable. In moral theology , Sánchez (1610), Azor (1603), Salas (1612), Castro Palao (1633), Torres (Turrianus, 1635), Escobar y Mendoza (1669). In Scripture, Maldonado (1583), Salmerón (1585), Francisco Ribera (1591), Prado (1595), Pereira (1610), Sancio (1628), Pineda (1637). In secular literature, mention may be made of de Isla and Baltasar Gracián (1584-1658), author of "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" (El oráculo) and "El criticon", which seems to have suggested the idea of "Robinson Crusoe" to Defoe.
Following the almost universal custom of the late seventeenth century, the kings of Spain generally had Jesuit confessors ; but their attempts at reform were too often rendered ineffective by court intrigues. This was especially the case with the Austrian, Father — later Cardinal — Everard Nidhard (confessor of Maria Anna of Austria ) and Pere Daubenton, confessor of Philip V. After the era of the great writers, the chief glory of the Spanish Jesuits is to be found in their large and flourishing foreign missions in Peru, Chile, New Grenada, the Philippines, Paraguay, Quito, which will be noted under "missions", below. There were served by 2171 Jesuits at the time of the Suppression. Spain itself in 1749 was divided into five provinces: Toledo with 659 members, Castile, 718; Aragon, 604; Seville, 662; Sardinia, 300; total 2943 members (1342 priests ) in 158 houses.Portugal
At the time when Ignatius founded his order Portugal was in her heroic age. Her rulers were full of enterprise, her universities were full of life, her trade routes extended over the then known world. The Jesuits were welcomed with enthusiasm, and made good use of their opportunities. St. Francis Xavier, traversing Portuguese colonies and settlements, proceeded to make his splendid missionary conquests. These were continued by his confreres in such distant lands as Abyssinia, the Congo, South Africa, China, and Japan, by Fathers Nunhes, Silveria, Acosta, Fernandes, and others. At Coimbra, and afterwards at Evora, the Society made the most surprising progress under such professors as Pedro de Fonseca (d. 1599), Luis Molina (d. 1600), Christovão Gil, Sebastão de Abreu, etc., and from here also comes the first comprehensive series of philosophical and theological textbooks for students. (See CONIMBRICENSES ). With the advent of Spanish monarchy, 1581, the Portuguese Jesuits suffered no less than the rest of their country. Luis Carvalho joined the Spanish opponents of Father Acquaviva, and when the apostolic collector, Ottavio Accoramboni, launched an interdict against the government of Lisbon, the Jesuits, especially Diego de Arida, became involved in the undignified strife. One the other hand, they played an honorable part in the restoration of Portugal's liberty in 1640, and on its success, the difficulty was to restrain King João IV from giving Father Manuel Fernandes a seat in the Cortes, and employing others in diplomatic missions. Among these Fathers were Antonio Vieira, one of Portugal's most eloquent orators. Up to the Suppression, Portugal and her colonists supported the following missions, of which further notices will be found elsewhere, Goa (originally India ), Malabar, Japan, China, Brazil, Maranhao. The Portuguese provinces in 1749 numbered 861 members (381 priests ) in 49 houses. (See also Vieira, Antonio; Gabriel Malagrida.)
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The first Jesuits, although almost all Spaniards, were trained and made their first vows in France, and the fortunes of the Society in France have always been of exceptional importance for the body at large. In early years its young men were sent to Paris to be educated there as Ignatius had been. They were hospitably received by Guillaume de Prat, bishop of Claremont, whose hôtel grew into the Collège de Clermont (1550), afterwards known as Luis-le-Grand. Padre Viola was the first rector, but the public classes did not begin until 1564. The Parlement of Paris and the Sorbonne resisted vehemently the letters patent, which Henry II and after him Francis II, and Charles IX had granted with little difficulty. Meanwhile the same Bishop of Claremont had founded a second college at Billom in his own diocese, which was opened 26 July, 1556, before the first general congregation. Colleges at Mauriac and Pamiers soon followed, and between 1565 and 1575, other at Avignon, Chambéry, Toulouse, Rodez, Verdun, Nevers, Bordeaux, Pont-à-Mousson, while Fathers Coudret, Auger, Roger, and Pelletier distinguished themselves by their apostolic labours. The utility of the order was also shown in the Colloquies at Poissy (1561) and at St-Germain-en-Laye by Fathers Lainez and Possevinus, and again by Father Brouet, who, with two companions, gave his life in the service of plague-stricken Paris in 1562, while Father Maldonado lectured with striking effect both at Paris and Bourges.
Meantime serious trouble was growing up with the University of Paris due to a number of petty causes, jealousy of the new teachers, rivalry with Spain, Gallican resentment at the enthusiastic devotion of the Jesuits to Rome, and perhaps a spice of Calvinism. A lawsuit for the closing of Claremont College was instituted before the Parlement , and Estienne Pasquier, counsel for the university, delivered a celebrated plaidoyer against the Jesuits. The parlement, though then favorable to the order, was anxious not to irritate the university, and came to an indecisive settlement (5 April, 1565). The Jesuits, despite the royal license, were not to be incorporated in the university, but they might continue their lectures. Unsatisfied with this, the university retaliated by preventing the Jesuit scholars from obtaining degrees and later (1573-6), a feud was maintained against Father Maldonado (q.v.) which was eventually closed by the intervention of Gregory XIII who had also in 1572 raised the college of Pont-a-Mousson to the dignity of a university. But meantime, the more or less incessant wars of religion were devastating the land, and from time to time, several Jesuits, especially Auger and Manare, were acting as army chaplains. They had no connection with the Massacre of St. Bartholomew (1572); but Maldonado was afterward deputed to receive Henry of Navarre (afterward Henry IV ) into the Church, and in many places the Fathers were able to shelter refugees in their houses; and by remonstrance and intercession, they saved many lives.
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Immediately after his coronation (1575), Henry III chose Father Auger for his confessor, and for exactly two hundred years the Jesuit court confessor became an institution in France, and as French fashions were then influential, every Catholic court in time followed the precedent. Considering the difficulty of any sort of control over autocratic sovereigns, the institution of a court confessor was well adapted to the circumstances. The occasional abuses of the office which occurred are chiefly to be attributed to the exorbitant powers invested in the autocrat, which no human guidance could save from periods of decline and degradation.But this was more clearly seen later on. A crisis for French Catholicism was near when, after the death of François, Duke of Anjou, 1584, Henri de Navarre, now an apostate, stood heir to the throne which the feeble Henry III could not possibly retain for long. Sides were taken with enthusiasm, and La sainte ligue was formed for the defense of the Church (see League, The; Guise, House of; France ). It was hardly to be expected that the Jesuits to a man would have remained cool, when the whole populace was in a ferment of excitement. It was morally impossible to keep the Jesuit friends of the exaltés on both sides from participating in their extreme measures. Auger and Claude Matthieu were respectively in the confidence of the two contending parties, the Court and the League. Father Acquaviva succeeded in withdrawing both from France, though with great difficulty and considerable loss of favor on either side. One or two he could not control for some time, and of these, the most remarkable was Henri Samerie, who had been chaplain to Mary Stuart, and became later army chaplain in Flanders. For a year he passed as diplomatic agent from one prince of the League to another, evading, by their means and the favor of Sixtus V , all Acquaviva's efforts to get him back to regular life. But in the end, discipline prevailed, and Acquaviva's orders to respect the consciences of both sides enabled the Society to keep friends with all.
Henry IV made much use of the Jesuits (especially Toledo, Possevinus, and Commolet), although they had favored the League, to obtain canonical absolution and the conclusion of peace; and in time (1604) took Pere Coton as his confessor. This, however, is an anticipation. After the attempt on Henri's life by Jean Chastel (27 December, 1594), the Parlement of Paris took the opportunity of attacking the Society with fury, perhaps to disguise the fact that they had been among the most extreme of the Leaguers, while the Society was among the more moderate. It was pretended that the Society was responsible for Chastel's crime, because he had once been their student: though in truth he was then at the university. The librarian of the Jesuit college, Jean Guignard, was hanged, 7 January, 1595, because an old book against the king was found in the cupboard of his room. Antoine Arnauld, the elder, brought into his plaidoyer before the Parlement every possible calumny against the Society and the Jesuits were ordered to leave Paris in three days and France in a fortnight. The decree was executed in the districts subject to the Parlement of Paris, but not elsewhere. The king, not yet being canonically absolved, did not then interfere. But the pope, and many others, pleaded earnestly for the revocation of the decree against the order. The matter was warmly debated and eventually Henry himself gave the permission for its readmission, on 1 September, 1603. He now made great use of the Society, founded for it the great College of La Feche, encouraged its missions at home, in Normandy and Béarn, and the commencement of the foreign missions in Canada and the Levant.
The Society immediately began to increase rapidly, and counted thirty-nine colleges, besides other houses, and 1135 religious before the king fell under Ravaillac's dagger (1610). This was made the occasion for new assaults by the Parlement , who availed themselves of Marianna's book, "De rege", to attack the Society as defenders of regicide. Francisco Suárez's "Defensio fidei" was burnt in 1614. The young King, Louis XIII, was too weak to curb the parlementaires , but both he and the people of France favored the Society so effectively that at the time of his death in 1643 their numbers had trebled. They now had five provinces, and that of Paris alone counted over 13,000 scholars in its colleges. The confessors during this reign were changed not unfrequently by the manoeuvers of Richilieu, and included Peres Arnoux de Séguiron, Suffren, Caussin, Sirmond, Dinet. Richilieu's policy of supporting the German Protestants against Catholic Austria (which Caussin resisted) proved the occasion for angry polemics. The German Jesuit Jacob Keller was believed (though proof of authorship is altogether wanting) to have written two strong pamphlets, "Mysteria politica", and "Admonitio ad Ludovicum XIII", against France. The books were burned by the hangman, as in 1626 was a work of Father Santarelli, which touched awkwardly on the pope's power to pronounce against princes.
The politico-religious history of the Society under Louis XIV centres round Jansenism (see JANSENIUS AND JANSENISM ) and the lives of the king's confessors, especially Pères Annat (1845-60), Ferrier (1660-74), La Chaise (q.v.) (1674-1709), and Michel Le Tellier (1709-15). On 24 May, 1656, Blaise Pascal published the first of his "Provinciales". The five propositions of Jansenism having been condemned by papal authority, Pascal could no longer defend them openly, and found the most effective method of retaliation was satire, raillery, and countercharge against the Society. He concluded with the usual evasion that Jansenius did not write in the sense attributed to him by the pope. The "Provinciales" were the first noteworthy example in the French language of satire written in studiously polite and moderate terms; and their great literary merit appealed powerfully to the French love of cleverness. Too light to be effectively answered by refutation, they were at the same time sufficiently envenomed to do great and lasting harm; although they have frequently been proved to misrepresent the teachings of the Jesuits by omissions, alterations, interpolations, and false contexts, notably by Dr, Karl Weiss, of Gratz, "P. Antonio de Escobar y Mendoza als Moraltheologe in Pascals Beleuchtung und im Lichte der Wahrheit".
The cause of the Jesuits was also compromised by the various quarrels of Louis XIV with Innocent XI, especially concerning the régale , and the Gallican articles of 1682. (See LOUIS XIV and INNOCENT XI. The different standpoint of these articles may help to illustrate the differences of view prevalent within the order on this subject.) At first there was a tendency on both sides to spare the French Jesuits. They were not at that time asked to subscribe to the Gallican articles, while Innocent overlooked their adherence to the king, in hopes that their moderation might bring about peace. But it was hardly possible that they should escape all troubles under a domination so pressing. Louis conceived the idea of uniting all the French Jesuits under a vicar, independent of the general in Rome. Before making this known, he recalled all his Jesuit subjects, and all, even the assistant, Pere Fontaine, returned to France. Then he proposed the separation, which Thyrsus González formally refused. The provincials of the five French Jesuit provinces implored the king to desist, which he eventually did. It has been alleged that papal decree forbidding the reception of novices between 1684-6 was issued in punishment of the French Jesuits giving support to Louis ( Cretineau-Joly ). The matter is alluded to in the Brief of Suppression; but it is still obscure and would seem rather to be connected with the Chinese rites than with the difficulties in France. Except for the interdict on their schools in Paris, 1716-29, by Cardinal de Noailles, the fortunes of the order were very calm and prosperous during the ensuing generation. In 1749, the French Jesuits were divided into five provinces with members as follows: France, 891; Acquitane, 437; Lyons 772; Toulouse 655; Champagne, 594; total 3350 (1763 priests ) in 158 houses.Germany
The first Jesuit to labour here was Bl. Peter Faber, who won to their ranks Bl. Peter Canisius, to whose lifelong diligence and eminent holiness the rise and prosperity of the German provinces are especially due. In 1556, there were two provinces, South Germany ( Germania Superior , up to and including Mainz ) and North Germany ( Germania Inferior , including Flanders ). The first residence of the Society was at Cologne (1544), the first college at Vienna (1552). The Jesuit colleges were soon so popular that they were demanded on every side, faster than they could be supplied, and the greater groups of these became fresh provinces. Austria branched off in 1563, Bohemia in 1623, Flanders had become two separate provinces by 1612, and Rhineland also two provinces by 1626. At that time the five German-speaking provinces numbered over 100 colleges and academies. But meanwhile all Germany was in turmoil with the Thirty Years War, which had gone so far, generally, in favor of the Catholic powers. In 1629 came the Restitutionsedikt (see Counter-Reformation ) by which the emperor redistributed with papal sanction the old church property which had been recovered from the usurpation of the Protestants. The Society received large grants, but was not much benefited thereby. Some bitter controversies ensued with the ancient holders of the properties, who were often Benedictines ; and many of the acquisitions were lost again during the next period of the war.
The sufferings of the order during the second period were grievous. Even before the war they had been systematically persecuted and driven into exile by the Protestant princes, whenever these had the opportunity. In 1618 they were banished from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia ; and after the advent of Gustavus Adolphus the violence to which they were liable increased. The fanatical proposal of banishing them forever from Germany was made by him in 1631, and again at Frankfurt in 1633; and this counsel of hatred acquired a hold which it still exercises over the German Protestant mind. The initial success of the Catholics of course excited further antipathies, especially as the great generals Tilly, Wallenstein, and Piccolomini had been Jesuit pupils. During the siege of Prague, 1648, Father Plachy successfully trained a corps of students for the defense of the town, and was awarded the mural crown for his services. The province of Upper Rhine alone lost seventy-seven Fathers in field hospitals or during the fighting. After the peace of Westphalia, 1648, the tide of the Counter-Reformation had more or less spent itself. The foundation period had passed and there are few external events to chronicle. The last notable conversion was that of Prince Frederick Augustus of Saxony (1697), afterwards King of Poland. Fathers Vota and Salerno (afterwards a cardinal ) were intimately connected with his conversion. Within the walls of their colleges and in the churches throughout the country the work of teaching, writing and preaching continued unabated, while the storms of controversy rose and fell, and the distant missions, especially China and the Spanish missions of South America, claimed scores of the noblest and most high-spirited. To this period belong Philip Jenigan (d. 1704) and Franz Hunolt (d. 1740), perhaps the greatest German Jesuit preachers; Tschupick, Joseph Sneller, and Ignatius Wurz acquired an almost equally great reputation in Austria. In 1749, the German provinces counted as follows: Germania Superior , 1060; Lower Rhine, 772; Upper Rhine, 497; Austria, 1772; Bohemia 1239; total 5340 members (2558 priests ) in 307 houses. (See also the index volume under the title "Society of Jesus", and such names as Becan, Byssen, Brouwer, Dreschel, Lohner, etc.)
Hungary was included in the province of Austria. The chief patron of the order was Cardinal Pázmány. The conversion of Sweden was several times attempted by German Jesuits, but they were not allowed to stay in the country. King John III, however, who had married a Polish princess, was actually converted (1578) through several missions by Fathers Warsiewicz and Possevinus, the latter accompanied by the English Father William Good; but the king had not the courage to persevere. Queen Christina (q.v.) in 1654 was brought into the Church, largely through the ministrations of Fathers Macedo and Casati, having given up her throne for this purpose. The Austrian Fathers maintained a small residence at Moscow from 1684 to 1718, which had been opened by Father Vota. (See POSSEVINUS ).
Bl. Peter Canisius, who visited Poland in the train of the legate Mantuato in 1558, succeeded in animating King Sigismund to energetic defense of Catholicism, and Bishop Hosius of Ermland founded the College of Braunsburg in 1584, which with that of Vilna (1569) became centres of Catholic activity in northeastern Europe. King Stephen Bathory, an earnest patron of the order, founded a Ruthenian College at Vilna in 1575. From 1588, Father Peter Skarga (d. 1612) made a great impression by his preaching. There were violent attacks against the Society in the revolution of 1607, but after the victory of Sigismund III the Jesuits more than recovered the ground lost; and in 1608 the province could be subdivided into Lithuania and Poland. The animus against the Jesuits however, vented itself in Cracow in 1612, through the scurrilous satire entitled "Monita secreta", (q.v.). King Casimir, who had once been a Jesuit, favored the Society not a little; so too did Sobieski, and his campaign to relieve Vienna from the Turks (1683) was due in part to the exhortations of Father Vota, his confessor. Among the great Polish missionaries are numbered Benedict Herbst (d. 1593) and Bl. Andrew Bobola. In 1756 the Polish provinces were readjusted into four: Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Lithuania, Massovia, counting in all 2359 religious. The Polish Jesuits, besides their own missions, had others in Stockholm, Russia, the Crimea, Constantinople, and Persia. (See Cracow, University of.)Belgium
The first settlement was at Louvaun in 1542, whither the students in Paris retired on the declaration of war between France and Spain. In 1556 Ribadeneira obtained legal authorization for the Society from Philip II, and in 1564 Flanders became a separate province. Its beginning, however, were by no means uniformly prosperous. The Duke of Alva was cold and suspicious, while the wars of the revolting provinces told heavily against it. At the pacification of Ghent (1576), the Jesuits were offered an oath against the rulers of the Netherlands, which they firmly refused, and were driven from their houses. But this at last won for them Philip's favor, and under Alexander Farnese fortune turned completely in their favour. Father Oliver Manare became a leader fitted for the occasion, whom Acquaviva himself greeted as "Pater Provinciae". In a few years, a number of well-established colleges had been founded, and in 1612 the Province had to be subdivided. The Flandro-Belgica counted sixteen colleges and the Gallo-Belgica eighteen. All but two were day schools with no preparatory colleges for small boys. They were worked with comparatively small staffs of five or six, sometimes only three professors, though their scholars might count as many hundreds. Teaching was gratuitous, but a sufficient foundation for the support of the teachers was a necessary preliminary. Though preparatory and elementary education was not yet in fashion, the care taken in teaching catechism was most elaborate. The classes were regular, and at intervals enlivened with music, ceremonies, mystery plays, and processions. These were often attended by the whole magistracy in robes of state, while the bishop himself would attend at the distribution of honours. A special congregation was formed at Antwerp in 1648, to organize ladies and gentlemen, nobles and bourgeois, into Sunday school teachers, and in that year their classes counted in all 3000 children. Similar organizations existed all over the country. The first communion classes formed an extension of the catechisms. In Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp, between 600 and 1600 attended the communion classes.
Jesuit congregations of the Blessed Virgin were first instituted at Rome by a Belgian Jesuit, John Leunis, in 1563. His native country soon took them up with enthusiasm. Each college had normally four:
- for scholars (more often two, one for older, one for younger);
- for young men on leaving;
- for grown-up men (more often several) -- for workingmen, for tradesmen, professional classes, nobles, priests, doctors, etc., etc.;
- for small boys.
Founded in Rome after the English schism had commenced, the Society had great difficulty in finding an entrance into England, though Ignatius and Ribadeneira visited the country in 1531 and 1558, and prayers for its conversion have been recited throughout the order to the present day (now under the common designation of "Northern Nations"). Other early Jesuits exerted themselves on behalf of the English seminary at Douai and of the refugees at Louvain. The effect of Elizabeth's expulsion of Catholics from Oxford, 1562-75, was that many took refuge abroad. Some scores of young men entered the Society, several of these volunteered for foreign missions, and thus it came about that the forerunner of those legions of Englishmen who go into India to carve out careers was the English Jesuit missionary, Thomas Stevens. John Yate ( alias Vincent, b. 1550; died after 1603) and John Meade (see Almeida ) were pioneers of the mission to Brazil. The most noteworthy of the first recruits were Thomas Darbishire and William Good, followed in time by Blessed Edmund Campion and Robert Persons . The latter was the first to conceive and elaborate the idea of the English mission, which, at Dr. Allen's request, was undertaken in December, 1578.
Before this the Society had undertaken care of the English College, Rome (see English College), by the pope's command, 19 March, 1578. But difficulties ensued owing to the miseries inherent in the estate of the religious refugees. Many came all the way to Rome expecting pensions, or scholarships from the rector, who at first became, in spite of himself, the dispenser of Pope Gregory's alms. But the alms soon failed, and several scholars had to be dismissed as unworthy. Hence disappointments and storms of grumbling, the records of which read sadly by the side of the consoling accounts of the martyrdoms of men like Campion, Cottam, Southwell, Walpole, Page, and others, and the labours of a Hetward, Weston, or Gerard. Persons and Crichton too, falling in with the idea, so common abroad, that a counter-revolution in favor of Mary Stuart would not be difficult, made two or three political missions to Rome and Madrid (1582-84) before realizing that their schemes were not feasible (see PERSONS ). After the Armada, Persons induced Philip to establish more seminaries, and hence the foundations at Valladolid, St-Omer, and Seville (1589, 1592, 1593), all put in charge of the English Jesuits. On the other hand they suffered a setback in the so-called Appellant Controversy (1598-1602) which French diplomacy in Rome eventually made into an opportunity for operating against Spain. (See Blackwell; Garnet.) The assistance of France, and the influence of the French Counter-Reformation were now on the whole highly beneficial. But many who took refuge at Paris became accustomed to a Gallican atmosphere, and hence perhaps some of the regalist views about the Oath of Allegiance, and some of the excitement in the debate over the jurisdiction of the Bishops of Chalcedon, of which more below. The feelings of tension continued until the missions of Pizzani, Conn, and Rosetti, 1635-41. Though the first of these was somewhat hostile, he was recalled in 1637, and his successors brought about a peace, too soon to be interrupted by the Civil War, 1641-60.
Before 1606, the English Jesuits had founded houses for others, but neither they nor any other English order had erected houses for themselves. But during the so-called "Foundation Movement", due to many causes but especially perhaps to the stimulation of the Counter-Reformation in France, a full equipment of institutions was established in Flanders. The novitiate began at Louvain in 1606, was moved to Liège in 1614, and in 1622 to Watten. The house at Liège was continued as the scholasticate, and the house of third probation was at Ghent 1620. The "mission" was made in 1619 a vice-province, and on 21 January, 1623, a province, with Fr. Richard Blout as first provincial; and in 1634 it was able to undertake the foreign mission of Maryland (see below) in the old Society. The English Jesuits at this period also reached their greatest numbers. In 1621, they were 211, in 1636, 374. In the latter year, their total revenue amount to 45,086 scudi (about 5760 English pounds in 1913). After the civil War both members and revenue fell off very considerably. In 1649 there were only 264 members, and 23,055 scudi revenue (about 5760 pounds); in 1645, the revenue was only 17,405 scudi (about 4350 pounds).
Since Elizabeth's time the martyrs had been few--one only, the Ven. Edmund Arrowsmith in the reign of Charles I. On 26 October, 1623, had occurred "The Doleful Even-song". A congregation had gathered for vespers in the garret of the French embassy in Blackfriars, when the floor gave way. Fathers Drury and Rediate with 61 (perhaps 100) of the congregation were killed. On 14 March, 1628, seven Jesuits were seized at St. John's Clerkenwell, with a large number of papers. These troubles, however, were light, compared with the sufferings during the Commonwealth, when the list of martyrs and confessors went up to ten. As the Jesuits depended so much on the country families, they were sure to suffer severely by the war, and the college at St-Omar was nearly beggared. The old trouble about the Oath of Allegiance was revived by the Oath of Abjuration, and the "three questions" proposed by Fairfax, 1 August 1647 (see THOMAS WHITE ). The representatives of the secular and regular clergy, amongst them Father Henry More, were called upon at short notice to subscribe to them. They did so, More thinking he might, "considering the reasons of the preamble", which qualified the words of the oath considerably. But the provincial, Fr. Silesdon, recall him from England, and he was kept out of office for a year; a punishment which, even if drastic for his offence, cannot be regretted, as it providentially led to his writing the history of the English