Jesuit order

   A mendicant religious order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 when he gathered a group of fellow students of theology from the University of Paris. Ordained in Venice in 1537, after a year of pilgrimage in Spain, Ignatius and his followers also resolved to do pilgrimage in Jerusalem. As war impeded their travel, they instead went to Rome to offer their services to Paul III who approved their order in 1540. Their main objective was missionary work meant to spread the Catholic faith around the world. St. Francis Xavier, a member of the original group, went to India, Indonesia, and Japan, and Matteo Ricci to China. By the 17th century, the Jesuits were also performing missionary work in North and Latin America. During the Counter-Reformation, the Jesuits became the leading force in the fight against the spread of Protestantism. Until the 18th century, when the order was suppressed by Clement XIV (1773), they were also leaders in education, establishing schools in all the major urban centers of Europe. Pius VII reinstated the Jesuits in 1814 and to this day they enjoy a solid reputation as educators. The mother church of the order is Il Gesù in Rome.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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