- the name given in 1540 to the SOCIETY OF JESUS a brotherhood founded six years earlier by Ignatius LOYOLA. During the period 1540-1555 it grew rapidly, acquiring an autocratic structure provided by Loyola's military training and discipline which he promoted in his Spiritual Exercises (1548). They established MISSIONS, orphanages, houses for reclaiming prostitutes, schools, centers of poor relief, and even a system of banking for destitute peasants. Francis XAVIER is perhaps the most famous Jesuit missionary. By the time of Loyola's death in 1556, the Society was one thousand strong with its influence being felt more acutely among the aristocracy than the poor. Through the establishment of Colleges in university settings, the Society became a teaching Order and a leader in CATHOLIC higher education. The Jesuits strongly supported the POPE at the COUNCIL of TRENT and found themselves spearheading the intellectual attack on the REFORMATION by becoming the foremost Roman Catholic APOLOGISTS. Today they are still a powerful force in education and run numerous universities including the Gregorian University in Rome.
Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.
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jesuits' — ; Jesuits ; … English syllables
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