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Society of Jesus


The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J., SJ or SI) is a male religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in France. The members are called Jesuits. The Order was founded in 1540 by St Ignatius of Loyola (a former soldier who experienced conversion after he was wounded in battle ) and his nine companions.  The opening lines of this founding document declare that the Society of Jesus was founded to “strive especially for the propagation and defence of the faith and progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine”. Its founding principles too – written by Ignatius himself – echoed his military background. He referred to the Companions as “soldiers of God”, called to serve “beneath the banner of the Cross”. Their aims have always been to serve the Church, “according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good”. 

The title was Latinized into "Societas Jesu" in the Bull of Paul III approving its formation and the first formula of its Institute ("Regimini militantis ecclesia", 27 Sept., 1540). 

Today there are 18,000 priests and brothers present in over 100 countries.  Jesuits in Britain work as parish priests, chaplains, teachers, academics, writers, doctors, spiritual directors and artists. As members of a religious order, Jesuits take three vows: of poverty, chastity and obedience,  plus a fourth vow of obedience to the pope in regard to worldwide mission. 

Biography Date: 1540-Present

Biography References: ESL 157.

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