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History Dictionary


Jesuits

The Society of Jesus (also known as Jesuits), a religious congregation founded by the Spanish Ignatius of Loiola (future Saint Ignatius of Loiola), had its "rule" ("obedience to God through his superiors" approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. This Jesuit "rule" associated with the fact that the superior general of the congregation, chosen by election, depended directly on the Holy See, made the Society of Jesus a kind of religious army in the service of the Pope. Jesuits had a great influence both on kings and on the general population, and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries practically had a monopoly on secondary education. In addition to their role in teaching, the Jesuits also played a very important role in evangelization of the natural populations of the lands discovered by the Portuguese and Spanish and in the conversion of the Protestant countries. In addition, some of the most outstanding Jesuits in the evangelizing process were St. Francis Xavier in India, and Fathers Manuel da Nobrega and Antonio Vieira in Brazil.

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