Saints of the Society of Jesus: Blessed Peter Favre

8 August, Confessor

The Society of Jesus is governed by a General, who has five Assistants, one for the Italian, one for the German, one for the French, one for the Spanish, and one for the English language. As the Church is divided into dioceses under bishops, so the religious Orders are divided into provinces under provincial superiors. The General of the Jesuits is elected by a Congregation of the Professed Fathers. Not all are Professed Fathers. After two years’ novitiate, the young Jesuit pronounces vows which are binding on him, but not binding on the Order, and becomes a true religious. He then studies and teaches for a number of years, till he is sufficiently advanced to be ordained a priest. Then he is sent back again to a second novitiate to renew the fervor of his virtues After that, according to the judgment of his Superiors, he either pronounces his vows of profession, or renews his former simple vows in a public manner. Only the Pope can dissolve the solemn vows of profession in a religious Order. The Coadjutor Brothers are religious who do not study or teach, but who are received to assist the Fathers in the domestic duties of the houses. They also, after a certain number of years, renew their first vows in a public manner.

The Blessed Peter Favre was the first Companion of Saint Ignatius, the first priest in the Society, and the first of the original band to enter heaven. He was born in Savoy of humble parentage. Being already a priest, he said the Mass when the first seven Fathers made their vows at Montmartre, and he gave their retreat to the other three who joined them before leaving Paris. Full of joy and fervor, these young students went forth to the work of the Lord. Favre labored with great results to the Church in Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Spain. The Christian princes of these two latter countries placed themselves eagerly under the direction of the poor Savoyard peasant. For Father Favre was a great guide of souls. He, was eminently an interior and spiritual man; and, though he was led by the ordinary method of prayer, in the estimation of Saint Ignatius he was the member of his Society who understood best the meaning of his Spiritual Exercises. His Memorials are considered by the Fathers of the Society a mine of spiritual knowledge. Favre was but forty years of age when he received Saint Ignatius’ order to return to Rome to attend the Council of Trent. As he was very feeble, his friends declared that such a journey in the summer heat would endanger his life. To which he replied: “It is not necessary that I should live, but it is necessary that I should obey.” He reached Rome in time to expire in the arms of his Father. As became the first child of Ignatius and the first of the first band of Jesuits, he died a martyr of obedience, the virtue which Saint Ignatius wished to be the distinguishing feature of his sons.