Omitting many other authorities, Vollet in "La Grande Encyclopédie" (s. v. Ignace de Loyola, Saint), informs his readers that "impartial history can discover in Loyola numberless traits of fantastic exaltation, morbific dreaminess, superstition, moral obscurantism, fanatical hatred, deceit and mendacity. On the other hand, it is impossible not to admit that he was a man of iron will, of indomitable perseverance in action and in suffering, and unshakeable faith in his mission; in spite of an ardent imagination, he had a penetrating intelligence, and a marvelous facility in reading the thoughts of men; he was possessed of a gentleness and suppleness which permitted him to make himself all to all. Visionary though he was, he possessed in the supreme degree, the genius of organization and strategy; he could create the army he needed, and employ the means he had at hand with prudence and circumspection. We can even discover in him a tender heart, easily moved to pity, to affection and to self-sacrifice for his fellow-men." Michelet says he was a combination of Saint Francis of Assisi and Machiavelli. Finally Victor Hugo reached the summit of the absurd when he assured the French Assembly in 1850 that "Ignatius was the enemy of Jesus." As a matter of fact the poet knew nothing of either, nor did many of his hearers.
As far as we are aware, St. Ignatius never used the term Jesuit at all. He called his Order the Compañía de Jesús, which in Italian is Compagnia, and in French, Compagnie. The English name Society, as well as the Latin Societas, is a clumsy attempt at a translation, and is neither adequate nor picturesque. Compañía was evidently a reminiscence of Loyola's early military life, and meant to him a battalion of light infantry, ever ready for service in any part of the world. The use of the name Jesus gave great offense. Both on the Continent and in England, it was denounced as blasphemous; petitions were sent to kings and to civil and ecclesiastical tribunals to have it changed; and even Pope Sixtus V had signed a Brief to do away with it. Possibly the best apology for it was given by the good-natured monarch, Henry IV, when the University and Parliament of Paris pleaded with him to throw his influence against its use. Shrugging his shoulders, he replied: "I cannot see why we should worry about it. Some of my officers are Knights of the Holy Ghost; there is an Order of the Holy Trinity in the Church; and, in Paris, we have a congregation of nuns who call themselves God's Daughters. Why then should we object to Company of Jesus?"
The Spaniards must have been amazed at these objections, because the name Jesus was, as it still is, in very common use among them. They give it to their children, and it is employed as an exclamation of surprise or fear; like Mon Dieu! in French. They even use such expressions as: Jesu Cristo!Jesu mille veces or Jesucristo, Dios mio! The custom is rather startling for other nationalities, but it is merely a question of autre pays, autres mœurs. A compromise was made, however, for the time being, by calling the organization "The Society of the Name of Jesus," but that was subsequently forbidden by the General.
As a rule the Jesuits do not reply to these attacks. The illustrious Jacob Gretser attempted it long ago; but, in spite of his sanctity, he displayed so much temper in his retort, that he was told to hold his peace. Such is the policy generally adopted, and the Society consoles itself with the reflection that the terrible Basque, Ignatius Loyola, and a host of his sons have been crowned by the Universal Church as glorious saints; that the august Council of Trent solemnly approved of the Order as a "pious Institute;" that twenty or thirty successive Sovereign Pontiffs have blessed it and favored it, and that after the terrible storm evoked by its enemies had spent its fury, one of the first official acts of the Pope was to restore the Society to its ancient position in the Church. The scars it has received in its numberless battles are not disfigurements but decorations; and Cardinal Allen, who saw its members at close quarters in the bloody struggles of the English Mission, reminded them that "to be hated of the Heretikes, S. Hierom computeth a great glorie."
It is frequently asserted that the Society was organized for the express purpose of combatting the Protestant Reformation. Such is not the case. On the contrary, St. Ignatius does not seem to have been aware of the extent of the religious movement going on at that time. His sole purpose was to convert the Turks, and only the failure to get a ship at Venice prevented him from carrying out that plan. Indeed it is quite likely that when he first thought of consecrating himself to God, not even the name of Luther had, as yet, reached Montserrat or Manresa. They were contemporaries, of course, for Luther was born in 1483 and Loyola in 1491 or thereabouts; and their lines of endeavor were in frequent and direct antagonism, but without either being aware of it. Thus, in 1521, when Loyola was leading a forlorn hope at Pampeluna to save the citadel for Charles V, Luther was in the castle of Wartburg, plotting to dethrone that potentate. In 1522 when the recluse of Manresa was writing his "Exercises" for the purpose of making men better, Luther was posing as the Ecclesiast of Wittenberg and proclaiming the uselessness of the Ten Commandments; and when Loyola was in London begging alms to continue his studies, Luther was coquetting with Henry VIII to induce that riotous king to accept the new Evangel.
Ignatius Loyola was born in the heart of the Pyrenees, in the sunken valley which has the little town of Azcoitia at one end, and the equally diminutive one of Azpeitia at the other. Over both of them the Loyolas had for centuries been lords either by marriage or inheritance. Their ancestral castle still stands; but, whereas in olden times it was half hidden by the surrounding woods, it is today embodied in the immense structure which almost closes in that end of the valley.
The castle came into the possession of the Society through the liberality of Anne of Austria, and a college was built around it. The added structure now forms an immense quadrangle with four interior courts. From the centre of the façade protrudes the great church which is circular in form and two hundred feet in height. Its completion was delayed for a long time but the massive pile is now finished. At its side, but quite invisible from without, is the castle proper, somewhat disappointing to those who have formed their own conceptions of what castles were in those days. It is only fifty-six feet high and fifty-eight wide. The lower portion is of hewn stone, the upper part of brick. Above the entrance, the family escutcheon is crudely cut in stone, and represents two wolves, rampant and lambent, having between them a caldron suspended by a chain. This device is the heraldic symbol of the name Loyola. The interior is elaborately decorated, and the upper story, where Ignatius was stretched on his bed of pain after the disaster of Pampeluna, has been converted into an oratory.
The church looks towards Azpeitia. A little stream runs at the side of the well-built road-way which connects the two towns. Along its length, shrines have been built, as have shelters for travelers if overtaken by a storm. The people are handsome and dignified, stately in their carriage – for they are mountaineers – and are as thrifty in cultivating their steep hills, which they terrace to the very top, as the Belgians are in tilling their level fields in the Low Countries. There is no wealth, but there is no sordid poverty; and a joyous piety is everywhere in evidence. Azpeitia glories in the fact that there St. Ignatius was baptized; and when some years ago, it was proposed to remove the font and replace it by a new one, the women rose in revolt. Their babies had to be made Christians in the same holy basin as their great compatriot, no matter how old and battered it might be.
Ignatius was the youngest of a family of thirteen or, at least, the youngest of the sons; he was christened Eneco or Inigo, but he changed his name later to Ignatius. His early years were spent in the castle of Arévalo; and, according to Maffei he was at one time a page of King Ferdinand. He was fond of the world, its vanities, its amusements and its pleasures, and though there is nothing to show that there was ever any serious violation of the moral law in his conduct, neither was he the extraordinarily pious youth such as he is represented in the fantastic stories of Nieremberg, Nolarci, García, Henao and others. After the fashion of the hagiographers of the seventeenth century and later, they describe him as a sort of Aloysius who, under the tutelage of Doña María de Guevara, visited the sick in the hospitals, regarding them as the images of Christ, nursing them with tenderest charity, and so on. All that is pure imagination and an unwise attempt to make a saint of him before the time.
Indeed, very little about the early life of Ignatius is known, except that when he was about twenty-six he gained some military distinction in an attack on the little town of Najara. Of course, he was conspicuous in the fight at Pampeluna, but whether he was in command of the fortress or had been merely sent to its rescue to hold it until the arrival of the Viceroy is a matter of conjecture. At all events, even after the inhabitants had agreed to surrender the town, he determined to continue the fight. He first made his confession to a fellow-knight, for there was no priest at hand, and then began what was, at best, a hopeless struggle. The enemy soon made a breach in the walls and while rallying his followers to repel the assault he was struck by a cannon-ball which shattered one leg and tore the flesh from the other. That ended the siege, and the flag of the citadel was hauled down. Admiring his courage, the French tenderly carried him to Loyola, where for some time his life was despaired of. The crisis came on the feast of St. Peter, to whom he had always a special devotion. From that day, he began to grow better. Loyalty to the Chair of Peter is one of the distinguishing traits of the Compañía which he founded.
It is almost amusing to find these shattered limbs of Ignatius figuring in the diatribes of the elder Arnauld against the Society, sixty or seventy years after the siege. "The enmity of the Jesuits for France," he said, "is to be traced to the fact that Loyola took an oath on that occasion, as Hannibal did against Rome, to make France pay for his broken legs." An English Protestant prelate also bemoaned "the ravages that had been caused by the fanaticism of that lame soldier." Other examples might be cited. To beguile the tediousness of his convalescence, Ignatius asked for the romance "Amadis de Gaul," a favorite book with the young cavaliers of the period; but he had to content himself with the "Life of Christ" and "The Flowers of the Saints." These, however, proved to be of greater service than the story of the mythical Amadis; for the reading ended in a resolution which exerted a mighty influence in the history of humanity. Ignatius had made up his mind to do something for God. The "Life of Christ" which he read, appears to have been that of Ludolph of Saxony in which the name "Jesuit" occurs. It had been translated into Spanish and published at Alcalá as early as 1502. Thus, a book from the land of Martin Luther helped to make Ignatius Loyola a saint.
When sufficiently restored to health he set out for the sanctuary of Montserrat where there is a Madonna whose thousandth anniversary was celebrated a few years ago. It is placed over the main altar of the church of a Benedictine monastery, which stands three thousand feet above the dark gorge, through which the river Llobregat rushes head-long to the Mediterranean. You can get a glimpse of the blue expanse of the sea in the distance, from the monastery windows. Before this statue, Ignatius kept his romantic Vigil of Arms, like the warriors of old on the eve of their knighthood; for he was about to enter upon a spiritual warfare for the King of Kings. He remained in prayer at the shrine all night long, not however in the apparel of a cavalier but in the common coarse garb of a poverty-stricken pilgrim. From there he betook himself to the little town of Manresa, about three miles to the north, on the outskirts of which is the famous cave where he wrote the "Spiritual Exercises." It is in the face of the rock, so low that you can touch the roof with your hand, and so narrow that there is room for only a little altar at one end. Possibly it had once been the repair of wild beasts. It is a mistake, however, to imagine that he passed all his time there. He lived either in the hospital or in the house of some friend, and resorted to the cave to meditate and do penance for his past sins. At present it is incorporated in a vast edifice which the Spanish Jesuits have built above and around it.
Perhaps no book has ever been written that has evoked more ridiculous commentaries on its contents and its purpose than this very diminutive volume known as "The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius." Its very simplicity excites suspicion; its apparent jejuneness suggest all sorts of mysterious and malignant designs. Yet, as a matter of fact, it is nothing but a guide to Christian piety and devotion. It begins with the consideration of the great fundamental truths of religion, such as our duty to God, the hideousness and heinousness of sin, hell, death, and judgment on which the exercitant is expected to meditate before asking himself if it is wise for a reasonable creature who must soon die to continue in rebellion against the Almighty. No recourse is had to rhetoric or oratory by those who direct others in these "Exercises," not even such as would be employed in the pulpit by the ordinary parish preacher. It is merely a matter of a man having a heart to heart talk with himself. If he makes up his mind to avoid mortal sin in the future, but to do no more, then his retreat is over as far as he is concerned. But to have even reached that point is to have accomplished much.
There are, however, in the world a great many people who desire something more than the mere avoidance of mortal sin. To them the "Exercises" propose over and above the fundamental truths just mentioned the study of the life of Christ as outlined in the Gospels. This outline is not filled in by the director of the retreat, at least to any great extent. That is left to the exercitant; for the word exercise implies personal action. Hence he is told to ask himself: "Who is Christ? Why does He do this? Why does He avoid that? What do His commands and example suppose or suggest?" In other words, he is made to do some deep personal thinking, perhaps for the first time in his life, at least on such serious subjects. Inevitably his thoughts will be introspective and he will inquire why the patience, the humility, the meekness, the obedience and other virtues, which are so vivid in the personality of the Ideal Man, are so weak or perhaps non-existent in his own soul. This scrutiny of the conscience, which is nothing but self-knowledge, is one of the principal exercises, for it helps us to discover what perhaps never before struck us, namely that down deep in our natures there are tendencies, inclinations, likes, dislikes, affections, passions which most commonly are the controlling and deciding forces of nearly all of our acts; and that some of these tendencies or inclinations help, while others hinder, growth in virtue. Those that do not help, but on the contrary impede or prevent, our spiritual progress are called by St. Ignatius inordinate affections, that is tendencies, which are out of order, which do not go straight for the completeness and perfection of a man's character, but on the contrary, lead in the opposite direction. The well-balanced mind will fight against such tendencies, so as to be able to form its judgments and decide on its course of action both in the major and minor things of life without being moved by the pressure or strain or weight of the passions. It will look at facts in the cold light of reason and revealed truth, and will then bend every energy to carry out its purpose of spiritual advancement.
Such is not the view of those who write about the "Exercises" without knowledge or who are carried away by prejudice, an exalted imagination, an overwhelming conceit or religious bias or perhaps because of a refusal to recognize the existence of any spiritual element in humanity. It is difficult to persuade such men that there are no "mysterious devices" resorted to in the Exercises; no "subterraneous caverns," no "orgies," no "emerging livid and haggard from the struggle," no "illuminism," no "monoideism" as William James in his cryptic English describes them; no "phantasmagoria or illusions;" no "plotting of assassinations" as the Parliament of Paris pretended to think when examining Jean Chastel, who had attempted the life of Henry IV; no "Mahommedanism" as Müller fancies in his "Origins of the Society of Jesus," nothing but a calm and quiet study of one's self, which even pagan philosophers and modern poets assure us is the best kind of worldly occupation.
Even if some writers insist that "their excellence is very much exaggerated," that they are "dull and ordinary and not the dazzling masterpieces they are thought to be," or are "a Japanese culture of counterfeited dwarf trees," as Huysmans in his "En Route" describes them; yet on the other hand they have been praised without stint by such competent judges as Saints Philip Neri, Charles Borromeo, Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori, Leonard of Port Maurice, and by Popes Paul III, Alexander VII, Clement XIII, Pius IX and Leo XIII. Camus, the friend of St. Francis of Sales, thought "they were of pure gold; more precious than gold or topaz;" Freppel calls them "a wonderful work which, with the 'Imitation of Christ' is perhaps of all books the one which gains the most souls for God;" Wiseman compares the volume to "an apparently barren soil which is found to contain the richest treasures," and Janssen tells us that "the little book which even its opponents pronounced to be a psychological masterpiece of the highest class, ranks also as one of the most remarkable and influential products of later centuries in the field of religion and culture in Germany… As a guide to the exercises it has produced results which scarcely any other ascetic writings can boast of" (Hist. of the German People, VIII, 223).
Whatever may be thought of it, it is the Jesuit's manual, the vade mecum, on which he moulds his particular and characteristic form of spirituality. In the novitiate, he goes through these "Exercises" for thirty consecutive days; and shortly after he becomes a priest, he makes them once again for the same period. Moreover, all Jesuits are bound by rule to repeat them in a condensed form for eight days every year; and during the summer months the priests are generally employed in explaining them to the clergy and religious communities. Indeed the use has become so general in the Church at the present time, that houses have been opened where laymen can thus devote a few days to a study of their souls. Even the Sovereign Pontiffs themselves employ them as a means of spiritual advancement. Thus we find in the press of today the announcement, as of an ordinary event, that "in the Vatican, the Spiritual Exercises which began on Sunday, September 26, 1920, and ended on October 2, were followed by His Holiness, Benedict XV, with the prelates and ecclesiastics of his Court; during which time, all public audiences were suspended. After the retreat, the two directors and those who had taken part in it were presented to the Sovereign Pontiff, who pronounced a glowing eulogy of what he called the 'Holy' Exercises."
St. Ignatius' authorship of these "Exercises" has been frequently challenged, and they have been described as little else than a plagiarism of the book known as the "Ejercitatorio de la vida espiritual," which was given to him by the Benedictines of Montserrat. It is perfectly true that he had that book in his hands during all the time he was at Manresa, and that he went every week to confession to Dom Chanones, who was a monk of Montserrat, but there are very positive differences between the "Ejercitatorio" and the "Spiritual Exercises."
In the first place it should be noted that the title had been in common use long before, and was employed by the Brothers of the Common Life, to designate any of their pious publications. Even Ludolph of Saxony speaks of the "Studia spiritualis exercitii." Secondly, the "Ejercitatorio" is rigid in its divisions of three weeks of seven days each, whereas St. Ignatius takes the weeks in a metaphorical sense, and lengthens or shortens them at pleasure. Thirdly, the object of the Benedictine manual is to lead the exercitant through the purgative and illuminative life up to the unitive; whereas St. Ignatius aims chiefly at the election of that state of life which is most pleasing to God, or at least at the correction or betterment of the one in which we happen to be. Finally, the "Ejercitatorio" does not even mention the foundation, the Kingdom, the particular examen, the Two Standards, the election, the discernment of spirits, the rules for orthodox thinking, the regulation of diet, the three degrees of humility, the three classes or the three methods of prayer. Only a few of the Benedictine counsels have been adopted, as in Annotations 2, 4, 13, 18, 19 and so. Some of thoughts, indeed, are similar in the first week; but the three succeeding weeks of St. Ignatius are entirely his own. In any case, the "Ejercitatorio" itself is nothing else than a compilation from Ludolph, Gerson, Cassian, Saint Bernard, Saint Bonaventure and contemporary writers. (Debuchy, article "Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius" in the "Catholic Encyclopedia," XIV, 226.)
It would be much easier to find a source of the "Exercises" in "The Great Life of Christ" by Ludolph of Saxony, which as has been said, was one of the books read by Ignatius in his convalescence. It is not really a life but a series of meditations, and in it we find a number of things which are supposed to be peculiar to the Exercises of St. Ignatius, for instance, the composition of place, the application of the senses and the colloquies. On the other hand there is nothing of the "first week" in it, such as the end of man, the use of creatures, sin, hell, death, judgment, etc., besides many other things which are employed as "Exercises" in the book of Ignatius.
It will be a surprise to many to learn that the famous meditation of the "Kingdom" which is supposed to be particularly Ignatian is only an adaptation. Father Kreiten, S. J., writing in the "Stimmen" traces it to a well-known romance which had long been current in the tales of chivalry, but which, unfortunately, is linked with a name most abhorrent to Catholics; William of Orange. The medieval William, however, is in no way identified with his modern homonym. He was a devoted Knight of the Cross, indignant that his prowess had not been recognized by his king and he asked for some royal fief as his reward. "Give me Spain," he cries, "which is still in the power of the Saracens." The curious request is granted whereupon William springs upon the table and shouts to those around him: "Listen, noble knights of France! By the Lord Almighty! I can boast of possessing a fief larger than that of thirty of my peers, but as yet it is unconquered. Therefore I address myself to poor knights who have only a limping horse and ragged garments, and I say to them that if, up to now, they have gained nothing for their service, I will give them money, lands and Spanish horses, castles and fortresses, if together with me, they will brave the fortunes of war in order, to help me to effect the conquest of the country and to re-establish in it the true religion. I make the same offer to poor squires, proposing, moreover, to arm them as knights." In answer to these words all exclaim, "By the Lord Almighty! Sir William! haste thee, haste thee; he who cannot follow thee on horseback will bear thee company on foot." From all parts there crowded to him knights and squires with any arms they could lay hold of, and before long thirty thousand men were ready to march. They swore fealty to Count William and promised never to abandon him, though they should be cut to pieces. St. Ignatius applies this legend to Christ in the "Exercises".
Finally, the "Two Standards" is a picture of those who want to do more than obey the Commandments. Their "Captain," the Divine Redeemer, reveals to them the wiles of the foe, which they resolve to defeat.
What is emphatically distinctive in the "Exercises" is their coherence. With inexorable logic, each conclusion is deduced from what has been antecedently admitted as indisputable. Thus, at the end of the first "week", it is clear that mortal sin is an act or condition of supreme folly; and in the course of the second, third, and fourth, we are made to see that unless a man chooses that particular state of life to which God calls him, or unless he puts to rights the one he is already in, he has no character, no courage, no virility, no gratitude to God, and no sense of danger. The fourth "week", besides enforcing what preceded, may be regarded as intimating, though not developing, the higher mysticism.
Throughout the "Exercises," the insistent consideration of the fundamental truths of Christianity, and the contemplation of the mysteries or episodes of the life of Christ so illumine the mind and inflame the heart that we cannot fail, if we are reasonable, at least to desire to make the love of Christ the dominating motive of our life; and, in view of that end, we are given at every step a new insight into our duties to God, chiefly under the double aspect of our Creation and Redemption; we are taught to scrutinize our thoughts, tendencies, inclinations, passions and aspirations, and to detect the devices of self-deceit; we are shown the dangers that beset us and the means of safety that are available; we are instructed in prayer, meditation and self-examination. The proper co-ordination of these various parts is so essential, that if their interdependence is neglected, if the arrangements and adjustments are disturbed and the connecting links disregarded or displaced, the end intended by Saint Ignatius is defeated. Hence the need of a director. It may be noted that the "Exercises" were not produced at Manresa in the form in which we have them now. They were touched and retouched up to the year 1541, that is twenty years after Loyola's stay in the "Cueva", but they are substantially identical with the book he then wrote.
After spending about a year in the austerities of the Cave, Ignatius begged his way to Palestine, but remained there only six weeks. The Guardian of the Holy Places very peremptorily insisted upon his withdrawal, because his piety and his inaccessibility to fear exposed him to bad treatment at the hands of the infidels. He then returned to Spain and set himself to the study of the Latin elements, in a class of small boys, at one of the primary schools of Barcelona. It was a rude trial for a man of his years and antecedents, but he never shrank from a difficulty, and, moreover, there was no other available way of getting ready for the course of philosophy which he proposed to follow at Alcalá. At this latter place, he had the happiness of meeting Laínez, Salmerón and Bobadilla, but he also made the acquaintance of the jails of the Inquisition, where he was held prisoner for forty-two days, on suspicion of heresy, besides being kept under surveillance, from November, 1526, till June of the year following. It happened, also, that as he was being dragged through the streets to jail, a brilliant cavalcade met the mob, and inquiries were made as to what it was all about, and who the prisoner was. The cavalier who put the question was one who was to be later a devoted follower of Ignatius; he was no less a personage than Francis Borgia. Six years after the establishment of the Society, Ignatius repaid Alcalá for its harsh treatment, by founding a famous college there, whose chairs were filled by such teachers as Vásquez and Suárez.
Ignatius had no better luck at Salamanca. There he was not even allowed to study, but was kept in chains for three weeks while being examined as to his orthodoxy. But as with Alcalá, so with Salamanca. Later on he founded a college in that university also, and made it illustrious by giving it de Lugo, Suárez, Valencia, Maldonado, Ribera and a host of other distinguished teachers. Leaving Salamanca, Ignatius began his journey to Paris, travelling on foot, behind a little burro whose only burden were the books of the driver. It was mid-winter; war had been declared between France and Spain, and he had to beg for food on the way; but nothing could stop him, and he arrived at Paris safe and sound, in the beginning of February, 1528. In 1535 he received the degree of Master of Arts, after "the stony trial," as it was called, namely the most rigorous examination. For some time previously he had devoted himself to the study of theology, but ill health prevented him from presenting himself for the doctorate. He lived at the College of Ste Barbe where his room-mates were Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. Singularly enough and almost prophetic of the future, Calvin had studied at the same college. The names of Loyola and Calvin are cut on the walls of the building to-day. In 1533 Calvin, it is said, came back to induce the rector of the college, a Doctor Kopp, to embrace the new doctrines. He succeeded, and, before the whole university, Kopp declared himself a Calvinist. Calvin had prepared the way by having the city placarded with a blasphemous denunciation of the Blessed Eucharist. A popular uprising followed and Calvin fled. In reparation a solemn procession of reparation was organized on January 21, 1535. There is some doubt, however, about the authenticity of this story.
Ignatius encountered trouble in France as he had in Spain. On one occasion he was sentenced to be flogged in presence of all the students; but the rector of the college, after examining the charge against him, publicly apologized. There was also a delation to the Inquisition, but when he demanded an immediate trial he was told that the indictment had been quashed. Previous to these humiliations and exculpations he had gathered around him a number of brilliant young men, all of whom have made their mark on history. They afford excellent material for an exhaustive study of the psychology of the Saints.
Most conspicuous among them was Francis Xavier, who will ever be the wonder of history. With him were Laínez and Salmerón, soon to be the luminaries of the Council of Trent, the former of whom barely escaped being elevated to the chair of St. Peter, and then only by fleeing Rome. There was also Bobadilla, the future favorite of kings and princes and prelates, the idol of the armies of Austria, the tireless apostle who evangelised seventy-seven dioceses of Europe, but who unfortunately alienated Charles V from the Society by imprudently telling him what should have come from another source or in another way. There was Rodriguez who was to hold Portugal, Brazil and India in his hands, ecclesiastically; and Faber who was to precede Canisius in the salvation of Germany.
Each one of these remarkable men differed in character from the rest. Bobadilla, Salmerón, Laínez and Xavier were Spaniards; but the blue-blooded and somewhat "haughty" Xavier must have been tempted to look with disdain on a man with a Jewish strain like Laínez. Salmerón was only a boy of about nineteen, but already marvelously learned; and Bobadilla was an impecunious professor whom Ignatius had helped to gain a livelihood in Paris, but whose ebulliency of temper was a continued source of anxiety; Rodriguez was a man of velleities rather than of action, and his ideas of asceticism were in conflict with those of Ignatius. The most docile of all was the Savoyard Peter Faber, who began life as a shepherd boy and was already far advanced in sanctity when he met St. Ignatius. In spite, however, of all this divergency of traits and antecedent environment, the wonderful personality of their leader exerted its undisputed sway over them all, not by a rigid uniformity of direction, but by an adaptation to the idiosyncrasies of each. His profound knowledge of their character, coupled as it was with an intense personal affection for them, was so effective that the proud aloofness of Xavier, the explosiveness of Bobadilla, the latent persistency of Laínez, the imaginativeness and hesitancy of Rodriguez, the enthusiasm of the boyish Salmerón, and the sweetness of Faber, all paid him the tribute of the sincerest attachment and an eagerness to follow his least suggestion. Rodriguez was the sole exception in the latter respect, but he failed only twice. Two other groups of young men had previously gathered around Ignatius, but, one by one, they deserted him. All of the last mentioned persevered, and became the foundation-stones of the Society of Jesus.
On August 15, 1534, Ignatius led his companions to a little church on the hill of Montmartre, then a league outside the city, but now on the Rue Antoinette, below the present great basilica of the Sacred Heart. In its crypt which they apparently had all to themselves that morning, they pronounced their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Faber, the only priest among them, said Mass and gave them communion. Such was the beginning of the new Order in the Church. A brass plate on the wall of the chapel proclaims it to be the "cradle of the Society of Jesus." It is almost startling to recall that while in the University of Paris, not only Ignatius but also Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, who were to be so prominent in the world in a short time, were in destitute circumstances. They had no money even to pay for their lodging, and they occupied a single room which had been given them, out of charity, in one of the towers of Ste Barbe. It was providential, however, for in the same college, but paying his way, was a former schoolmate of Faber and like him a native of Savoy. This was Claude Le Jay, or Jay, as he is sometimes called. Of course he had noticed Ignatius and the group of brilliant young Spaniards, but he had little or nothing to do with them until once, when Ignatius was absent in Spain, Faber let him into the secret of their great plan of converting the Turks. The result was that when next year the associates went out to Montmartre to renew their vows, Le Jay was with them as were also two other university men: Jean Codure from Dauphiné and the Picard, Pasquier Brouet, who was already a priest.
It had been arranged that in 1536 when their courses of study were finished and their degrees and certificates secured, they were to meet at Venice to embark for the Holy Land. They were to make the journey to Venice on foot. They set out, therefore, in two bands, a priest with each, taking the route that passed by Meaux and then through Lorraine, across Switzerland to Venice. It was a daring journey of fifty-two days in the dead of winter, over mountain passes, without money to pay their way or to purchase food; with poor and insufficient clothing, across countries filled with soldiers preparing for war, or angry fanatics who scoffed at the rosaries around their necks, and who might have ill-treated them or put them to death; they bore it all, however, not only patiently but light-heartedly, and on January 6, 1537, arrived in Venice, where Ignatius was waiting for them. To them was added a new member of the association, Diego Hozes, who had known Ignatius at Alcalá and now came to him at Venice.
After a brief rest, which they took by waiting on the poor and sick in the worst hospital of the city, they were told to go down to Rome to ask the Pope's permission to carry out their plans. This journey was not as long or as dangerous as the one they had just made, but the bad weather, the long fasts, the sickness of some of them, the rebuffs and abusive language which they received when they asked for alms, made it hard enough for flesh and blood to bear; however their devotion to the end they had in view, or what the world might call their Quixotic enthusiasm bore them onward. They were apprehensive, however, about their reception in Rome, not it is true, from the Father of the Faithful himself, but from a certain great Spanish canonist, a Doctor Ortiz, who happened to be just then at the papal court, making an appeal to the Sovereign Pontiff in behalf of Catherine of Aragon against Henry VIII.
Ortiz had met Ignatius in Paris and was bitterly prejudiced against him. That, indeed, was the reason why the little band appeared in the Holy City without their leader, but neither he nor they were aware that Ortiz had changed his mind and was now an enthusiastic friend. Hence when the travel-stained envoys from Venice presented themselves, they could scarcely believe their eyes. Ortiz received them with every demonstration of esteem and affection. He presented them to the Pope, and urged him to grant all their requests. Subsequently, Faber acted as theologian for Ortiz, when that dignitary represented Charles V at Worms and in Spain. Of course the Pontiff was overjoyed and not only blessed the members of the little band but gave them a considerable sum of money to pay their passage to the Holy Land. So they hurried back to Ignatius with the good news, and on June 24 all those who were not priests were ordained.
The custom that prevails in the Church, in our days, is for a newly-ordained priest to celebrate Mass on the morning following his ordination; but Ignatius and his companions prepared themselves for this great act in an heroic fashion. They buried themselves in caverns or in the ruins of dilapidated monasteries for an entire month, giving themselves up to fasting and prayer, preaching at times in some adjoining town or hamlet. It was on this occasion that the vacillating character of Rodriguez revealed itself. He and Le Jay had taken up their abode in a hermitage near Bassano where a venerable old man named Antonio was reviving in the heart of Italy the practices of the old solitaries of the Thebaid. Rodriguez fell ill and was at the point of death when Ignatius arrived and told him that he would recover. So, indeed, it happened, but singularly enough he was anxious to continue his eremitical life and, without speaking of his doubts to Ignatius, set out to consult the old hermit about it, but became conscience-stricken before he arrived. "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" was all St. Ignatius said, when Rodriguez confessed what he had done. Nevertheless, that did not cure him, for the desire of leading a life of bodily austerity had taken possession of him and was at the bottom of the trouble which he subsequently caused in Portugal, and also when, in 1554, he wrote entreatingly to Pope Julius III for permission to leave the Society and become a hermit (Prat, Le P. Claude Le Jay, 32, note).
At the end of the retreat, they all returned to Venice, where they waited in vain for a ship to carry them to the land of the Mussulmans. It was only when there was absolutely no hope left, that they made up their minds to go back to Rome, and put themselves at the disposal of the Pope for any work he might give them. As this was fully twenty years after Martin Luther had nailed his thesis to the church door of Wittenberg, it is clear that Ignatius had no idea of attacking Protestantism when he founded the Society of Jesus.
Possibly this stay in Venice has something to do with the solution of a question which has been frequently mooted and was solemnly discussed at a congress of physicians at San Francisco as late as 1900, namely, why did Vesalius, the great anatomist, go to the Holy Land? The usual supposition is that it was to perform a penance enjoined by the Inquisition in consequence of some alleged heretical utterances by the illustrious scientist. However, Sir Michael Foster of the University of Cambridge, who was the principal speaker at the Congress, offered another explanation. "It is probable," he said, "that while pursuing his studies in the hospitals of Venice, Vesalius often conversed with another young man who was there at the time and who was known as Ignatius Loyola." Such a meeting may, indeed, have occurred, for Ignatius haunted the hospitals, and his keen eye would have discerned the merit of Vesalius, who was a sincerely pious man. Hence, it is not at all unlikely that the young physician may have made the "Spiritual Exercises" under the direction of Ignatius, and that his journey to the Holy Land was the result of his intercourse with the group of brilliant young students, who just then had no other object in life but to convert the Turks.
On the journey to Rome Ignatius went ahead with Faber and Laínez, and it was then that he had the vision of Christ carrying the cross, and heard the promise: "Ego vobis Romæ propitius ero" (I will be propitious to you in Rome.) They were received affectionately and trustingly by the Pope, who sent Laínez and Faber to teach in the Sapienza, one lecturing on holy scripture and the other on scholastic theology; while Ignatius gave the "Spiritual Exercises" wherever and whenever the opportunity presented itself. When the other four arrived, they were immediately employed in various parts of Rome in works of charity and zeal.
It was in Rome that Ignatius first came in personal contact with the Reformation. A Calvinist preacher who had arrived in the city had succeeded in creating a popular outcry against the new priests, by accusing them of all sorts of crimes. As such charges would be fatal in that place above all, if not refuted, the usual policy of silence was not observed. By the advice of the Pope the affair was taken to court where the complaint was immediately dismissed and an official attestation of innocence given by the judge. The result was a counter-demonstration, that made the accuser flee for his life to Geneva. As an assurance of his confidence in them, the Sovereign Pontiff employed them in several parts of Italy where the doctrines of the Reformation were making alarming headway. Thus, Brouet and Salmerón were sent to Siena; Faber and Laínez accompanied the papal legate to Parma; Xavier and Bobadilla set out for Campania; Codure and Hozes for Padua; and Rodriguez and Le Jay for Ferrara. It is impossible to follow them all in these various places, but a brief review of the difficulties that confronted Rodriguez and Le Jay in Ferrara may be regarded as typical of the rest.
In conformity with the instructions of Ignatius, they lodged at the hospital, preached whenever they could, either in the churches or on the public streets, and taught catechism to the children and hunted for scandalous sinners. An old woman at the hospital discovered by looking through a crack in the door that they passed a large part of the night on their knees. At this point Hozes died at Padua, and Rodriguez had to replace him; Le Jay was thus left alone at Ferrara. The duke, Hercules II, became his friend, but the duchess, Renée of France, daughter of Louis XII, avoided him. She was a supposedly learned woman, a forerunner, so to say, of the précieuses ridicules of Molière, and an ardent patron of Calvin, a frequent visitor at the court along with the lascivious poet Clément Marot, who translated the Psalms into verse to popularize Calvin's heretical teachings. Another ominous figure that loomed up at Ferrara was the famous Capuchin preacher, Bernardo Ochino, a man of remarkable eloquence, which, however, was literary and dramatic rather than apostolic in its character. His emaciated countenance, his long flowing white beard and his fervent appeals to penance made a deep impression on the people. They regarded him as a saint, never dreaming that he was a concealed heretic, who would eventually apostacize and assail the Church. He was much admired by the duchess, who conceived a bitter hatred for Le Jay and would not even admit him to her presence. The trouble of the Jesuit was increased by the attitude of the bishop, who, knowing the real character of Ochino, looked with suspicion on Le Jay as possibly another wolf in sheep's clothing; but his suspicions were soon dispelled, and he gave Le Jay every means in his power to revive the faith and morals of the city. The duchess, however, became so aggressive in her proselytism that the duke ordered her into seclusion, and when he died, his son and successor sent her back to her people in France where she died an obstinate heretic.
From Ferrara Le Jay hastened to Bagnorea to end a schism there, and though neither side would listen to him at first, yet his patience overcame all difficulties, and finally, everybody met everybody else in the great church, embraced and went to Holy Communion. Peace then reigned in the city. The other envoys achieved similar successes elsewhere throughout the peninsula; and Crétineau-Joly says that their joint efforts thwarted the plot of the heretics to destroy the Faith in Italy. The winter of 1538 was extremely severe in Rome, and a scarcity of provisions brought on what amounted almost to a famine. This distress gave Ignatius and his companions the opportunity of showing their devotion to the suffering poor; and they not only contrived in some way or other to feed, in their own house, as many as four hundred famishing people, but inspired many of the well-to-do classes to imitate their example.
With this and other good works to their credit, they could now ask the authorization of the Sovereign Pontiff for their enterprise. Hence on September 3, 1539, they submitted a draught of the Constitution, and were pleased to hear that it evoked from the Pope the exclamation: "The finger of God is here." But they were not so fortunate with the commission of cardinals to whom the matter was then referred. Guidiccioni, who presided, was not only distinctly hostile, but expressed the opinion that all existing religious orders should be reduced to four and hence he contemptuously tossed the petition aside. It was only after a year that he took it up again – he scarcely knew why – and on reading it attentively he was completely converted and hastened to report on it as follows: "Although as before, I still hold to the opinion that no new religious order should be instituted, I cannot refrain from approving this one. Indeed, I regard it as something that is now needed to help Christendom in its troubles, and especially to destroy the heresies which are at present devastating Europe." Thus it is Guidiccioni who is responsible for setting the Society to undo the work of Martin Luther.
The Pope was extremely pleased by the commission's report, and on September 27, 1540, he issued the Bull "Regimini Ecclesiæ," approving "The Institute of the Society of Jesus." In this Bull and that of Julius III, the successor of Paul III, we have the official statement of the character and the purpose of the Society. Its object is the salvation and perfection of the souls of its members and of the neighbor. One of the chief means for that end is the gratuitous instruction of youth. There are no penances of rule; but it is assumed that bodily mortifications are practised and employed, though only under direction. Great care is taken in the admission and formation of novices, and lest the protracted periods of study, later, should chill the fervor of their devotion, there are to be semi-annual spiritual renovations, and when the studies are over, and the student ordained to the priesthood, there is a third year of probation, somewhat similar to the novitiate in its exercises. There are two grades in the Society – one of professed, the other of coadjutors, both spiritual and temporal.
All are to be bound by the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but those of the coadjutors are simple, while those of the professed are solemn. The latter make a fourth vow, namely, one of obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff, which binds them to go wherever he sends them, and to do so without excuse, and without provisions for the journey. The Father-General is elected for life. He resides in Rome, so as to be at the beck of the Sovereign Pontiff, and also because of the international character of the Society. All superiors are appointed by him, and he is regularly informed through the provincials about all the members of the Society. Every three years there is a meeting of procurators to report on their respective provinces and to settle matters of graver moment. The General is aided in his government by assistants chosen mostly according to racial divisions, which may in turn be subdivided. There is also an admonitor who sees that the General governs according to the laws of the Society and for the common good. Disturbers of the peace of the Order are to be sharply admonished, and if incorrigible, expelled. When approved scholastics or formed coadjutors are dismissed they are dispensed from their simple vows. The simple vow of chastity made by the scholastics is a diriment impediment of matrimony. Because of possible withdrawals or dismissals from the Society, the dominion of property previously possessed is to be retained, as long as the general may see fit, but not the usufruct – an arrangement which has been repeatedly approved by successive Pontiffs, as well as by the Council of Trent.
All ambition of ecclesiastical honors is shut off by a special vow to that effect. There is no choir or special dress. The poverty of the Society is of the strictest. The professed houses are to subsist on alms, and cannot receive even the usual stipends. Moreover, the professed are bound by a special vow to watch over and prevent any relaxation in this respect. The rule is paternal, and hence an account of conscience is to be made, either under seal of confession or in whatever way the individual may find most agreeable. A general congregation may be convened as often as necessary. Its advisability is determined at the meeting of the procurators. In the first part of the Constitution, the impediments and the mode of admission are considered; in the second, the manner of dismissal; in the third and fourth, the means of furthering piety and study and whatever else concerns the spiritual advancement, chiefly of the scholastics; the fifth explains the character of those who are to be admitted and also the various grades; the sixth deals with the occupations of the members; the seventh treats of those of superiors; the eighth and ninth relate to the General; and the tenth determines the ways and means of government. Before the Constitutions were promulgated, Ignatius submitted them to the chief representatives of the various nationalities then in the Order, but they did not receive the force of law until they were approved by the first general congregation of the whole Society. After that they were presented to Pope Paul III, and examined by four Cardinals. Not a word had been altered when they were returned. The Sovereign Pontiff declared that they were more the result of Divine inspiration than of human prudence.
For those who read these Constitutions without any preconceived notions, the meaning is obvious, whereas the intention of discovering something mysterious and malignant in them inevitably leads to the most ridiculous misinterpretations of the text. Thus, for instance, some writers inform us that St. Ignatius is not the author of the Constitutions, but Laínez, Mercurian or Acquaviva. Others assure their readers that no Pope can ever alter or modify even the text; that the General has special power to absolve novices from any mortal sins they may have committed before entering; that the general confessions of beginners are carefully registered and kept; that a special time is assigned to them for reading accounts of miraculous apparitions and demoniacal obsessions; that before the two years of novitiate have elapsed a vow must be taken to enter the Society; that all wills made in favor of one's family must be rescinded; that in meditating, the eyes must be fixed on a certain point and the thoughts centered on the Pater Noster until a state of quasi-hypnotism results; that the grades in the Society are reached after thirty or thirty-five years of probation, after which the applicant becomes a probationer; the professed are called "ours"; the spiritual coadjutors "externs." The latter do the plotting and have aroused all the ill-will of which the Society has been the object; whereas the professed devote themselves to prayer and are admired and loved.
There are also, we are assured, secret, outside Jesuits. The Emperors Ferdinand II and III, and Sigismund of Poland are put in that class, and probably also John III of Portugal and Maximilian of Bavaria; while Louis XIV is suspected of belonging to it. The Father-General dispenses such members from the priesthood and from wearing the soutane. "Imagine Louis XIV," says Brou, who furnishes these details, "asking the General of the Jesuits to be dispensed from wearing the soutane!" Unlike the other Jesuits, these cryptics would not be obliged to go to Rome to pronounce their vows. Again, it is said, Pope Paul IV had great difficulty in persuading the Jesuits to accept the dispensation from the daily recitation of the breviary. Perhaps the most charming of all of these "discoveries" is that the famous phrase perinde ac cadaver, "you must obey as if you were a dead body," was borrowed from the Sheik Si-Senoussi who laid down rules for his Senoussis in Africa, about two centuries after St. Ignatius had died. The authors of these extraordinary conceptions are Müller, Reuss, Cartwright, Pollard, Vollet and others, all of whom are honoured with a notice posted in the British Museum, as worthy of being consulted on the puzzling subject of Jesuitry, and yet the Constitutions of the Society and the explanations of them, by prominent Jesuit writers, can be found in any public library.
Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Italy – Election of Ignatius – Jesuits in Ireland – "The Scotch Doctor" – Faber and Melanchthon – Le Jay – Bobadilla – Council of Trent – Laínez, Salmerón, Canisius – The Catechism – Opposition in Spain – Cano – Pius V – First Missions to America – The French Parliaments – Postel – Foundation of the Collegium Germanicum at Rome – Similar Establishments in Germany – Clermont and other Colleges in France – Colloque de Poissy.
The pent-up energy of the new organization immediately found vent not only in Europe but at the ends of the earth. Portugal gave its members their first welcome when Xavier and Rodriguez went there, the latter to remain permanently, the former only for a brief space. Araoz evangelized Spain and was the first Jesuit to enter into relations with Francis Borgia, Viceroy of Catalonia, who afterwards became General of the Society. A college was begun in Paris and provided with professors such as Strada, Ribadeneira, Oviedo and Mercurian. Faber accompanied Ortiz, the papal legate, to Germany; Brouet, Bobadilla, Salmerón, Codure and Laínez went everywhere through Italy; while Ignatius remained at Rome, directing their operations and meantime establishing orphanages, night refuges, Magdalen asylums, shelters for persecuted Jews, and similar institutions. Strangely enough, Ignatius was not yet the General of the Society, for no election had thus far taken place. Strictly speaking, however, none was needed, for none of the associates ever dreamed of any other leader. However, on April 5, 1541, the balloting took place; those who were absent sending their votes by messenger. That of Xavier could not arrive in time, for he had already left Portugal for the East; indeed he had departed before the official approval of the Order by the Pope – two things which have suggested to some inventive historians that Francis Xavier was not really a Jesuit. They would have proved their point better, if they could have shown Xavier had remained in Europe after he had been ordered away. As a matter of fact; he had been one of the collaborators of Ignatius in framing the Constitutions and was still in Portugal when the news arrived of Guidiccioni's change of mind.