Catholic Pocket Dictionary – Jesuits


Saint Ignatius Loyola, born in 1491, of a noble family in Biscay, and trained to the military profession, received a severe wound in the leg while defending Pampeluna against the French in 1521. When he had sufficiently recovered, he broke with his former life, embraced poverty and retirement. The thought came frequently to his mind of founding an order, which should support, by example, preaching, and education, the cause of the Gospel and Catholic truth, and carry the light of Christ to the heathen. But to carry out all this, he must become a priest. While a student in the University of Paris he made the acquaintance of a number of remarkable men, chiefly Spaniards, with whom being made one in heart and spirit, he understood that it was now possible to carry out the project which he had long cherished. He conducted them first through the “Spiritual Exercises,” which he had composed at Manresa. On the feast of the Assumption, in 1534, in the church of Montmartre at Paris, Ignatius and his companions, Francis Xavier, James Laynez, Alphonsus Salmeron, Nicholas Bobadilla Spaniards; Simon Rodriguez, a Portuguese; and Peter Faber, a Savoyard, after they had all received communion from Father Peter Faber, who was then the only priest among them, pronounced the vow which constituted the order. It was, to renounce the world, to go to preach the gospel in Palestine, or, if they could not go thither within a year after they had finished their studies, to offer themselves to the Holy Father to be employed in the service of God in what manner he should judge best.

Preaching, spiritual exercises, works of charity, teaching the catechism, and hearing confessions, were to be their employments.

The Society was confirmed by Pope Paul III in a bull dated 27 September 1540, and at the election of a general, Ignatius was unanimously nominated and elected.

A complete abandonment to the will of the Superior was to be the great feature of the order. The “Company of Jesus” has prospered since its foundation. It consists of six grades; novices, scholastics, temporal coadjutors, spiritual coadjutors, the professed of three vows and the professed of four vows. The members are distributed into novitiates, colleges, professed houses and missions.

The head of the society, known as the general, is elected for life. The society is divided in provinces, the superior of each province is the provincial. The motto A. M. D. G., are the initial letters of the latin words Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Many saints of the Church, confessors and martyrs, were members of the society of Jesus.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “Jesuits”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 15 October 2021. <>