August 7th marks the two hundredth anniversary of the restoration of the Society […]
07/08/2014 • 13:08
August 7th marks the two hundredth anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus by Pope Pius VII, after its suppression by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The suppression of the Society occurred after years of political pressure from several different European monarchs, who were wary of the Jesuits’ international character and staunch loyalty to the Pope. The priests of the society had already been expelled from realms in both Europe and the New World, starting in the 1750s. Those realms included Brazil, Portugal, Spain (and Spanish colonial holdings), France and the small but strategically and politically significant Duchy of Parma in the far north of the Italian peninsula.
Despite the suppression, many Jesuits continued to live and work according to Ignatian spirituality, with many of the Fathers finding refuge in Prussia, where the act of Clement XIV was ignored, and in Russia, where Csar Catherine II refused to promulgate the bull of suppression. In Russia especially, the Jesuits continued to flourish, with more than two hundred members of the society living and working in eighteen residences.
Click below to hear Fr. Nicolas Steeves, SJ, talk with Vatican Radio about what it means to be a Jesuit today
Several Popes also contributed to the survival of the Society during the period of suppression – first by toleration, then by tacit approval, and eventually by explicit expressions of favor that led to the Society’s restoration. It was Pius VII – the same Pope who would eventually restore the Order throughout the world – who, in 1801, first gave official approval to the Jesuits’ existence in the Russian Empire, thus opening the way toward the Order’s eventual worldwide restoration in 1814.
Click here for more from the Society of Jesus on commemorative events
The Superior-General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, issued a letter to all members of the Society ahead of the anniversary, in which he calls on all Jesuits everywhere, “To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society in 2014 with humble and sincere gratitude to the Lord, with a desire to learn from [their] history, and as an occasion for spiritual and apostolic renewal.” Please find the full text of that letter, below: