Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ (born December 17, 1936) is an Argentine cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He has served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. He is the first Jesuit to be named Pope. He has chosen the name Francis, known in Spanish as Francisco. He is the first Pope to be named Francis.
There are two saints named Francis, St. Francis of of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier
Credit: Dylan Coll
Francis (Latin: Franciscus; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013. In that role, he is both the leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. From 1998 until his election as pope, he served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and was made a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Francis is the first Jesuit and the first from the Americas to be elected Pope. He is the first non-European pope since Syrian-born Pope Gregory III, who served for ten years (731–741). There was a fictional pope Francesco I in the 1979 Walter Murphy novel entitled “Vicar of Christ.”
Pope Francisco giving his first blessing.
Bergoglio was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, taking the papal name Francisco.
Many analyses of Saint Malachy’s prophecy note that it is open to the interpretation that additional popes would come between the “glory of the olive” and Peter the Roman. Popular speculation by proponents of the prophecy attach this prediction to Benedict XVI’s successor. Since Francis’ election as Pope, proponents in internet forums have been striving to link him to the prophecy. Theories include a vague connection with Francis of Assisi, whose father was named Peter
Saint Malachy (1094 – 2 November 1148) was an Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh, to whom were attributed several miracles and an alleged vision of 112 Popes later attributed to the apocalyptic list of Prophecy of the Popes. He was the first Irish saint to be canonised by Pope Clement III in 1199.
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. A discussion of this prophecy can be found following the biography of the new Pope.
White smoke has appeared at the Vatican. The cardinals have selected a new Pope. The Pope was elected on the fifth vote.
The newly chosen Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church with1.2 billion members.
Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, one of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he entered the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1958. Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, and then taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Santa Fe, and the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He wasordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, a seminary in San Miguel. Bergoglio attained the position of novice master there and became professor of theology.
Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted Bergoglio and he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He was transferred in 1980 to become the rector of the seminray in San Miguel where had had studied. He served in that capacity until 1986. He completed his doctoral dissertation in Germany and returned to his homeland to serve as confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba.
Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Quarracino on February 28, 1998. He was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own prelate. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named archbishop to the consistory of February 21, 2001 in Vatican City and elevated Bergoglio with the papal honors of a cardinal. He was named to the Cardinal-Priest of Saint Robert Bellarmino.
As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American and the Family Council.
As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. He lives in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop’s residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio, considered papabile himself, participated in the 2005 papal conclave as a cardinal elector, the conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. A widespread theory says that he was in a tight fight with Ratzinger until he himself adviced crying not to be voted. Earlier, he had participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum sede vacante period. Cardinal Bergoglio remains eligible to participate in conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on December 17, 2016.
During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he was elected a member of the Post-Synodal council. Catholic journalist John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. An unauthorized diary of uncertain authenticity released in September 2005] confirmed that Bergogolio was the runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave. The purported diary of the anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot.
On November 8, 2005, Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–2008) by a large majority of the Argentine bishops, which according to reports confirms his local leadership and the international prestige earned by his alleged performance in the conclave. He was reelected on November 11, 2008.
According to the Huffington Post, Bergoglio was a high-ranking official in the Society of Jesus of Argentina when a military junta was installed in the South American country in 1976 and he may have been involved in a kidnapping.. According to the Los Angeles Times, priests Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics were kidnapped in May of that year by the navy. “They surfaced five months later, drugged and seminude, in a field,” the Times reported. A 2005 lawsuit accused Bergoglio of unspecified involvement in the abductions. Reuters explains that “the military government secretly jailed [Yorio and Jalics] for their work in poor neighborhoods.” A spokesman for Bergoglio called the claims “old slander.”
Bergoglio is an accomplished theologian who distanced himself from liberation theology early in his career. He is thought to be close to Comunione e Liberazione, a conservative lay movement.
Abortion and euthanasia
Cardinal Bergoglio has invited his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.
He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are gay. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: “Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” He has also insisted that adoption by gays and lesbians is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”
Church and AIDS
His doctrinal orthodoxy emphasizes Christ’s mandate to love: he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients.
He consistently preaches a message of compassion towards the poor, but somew observers would like him to place a greater emphasis on issues of social justice. Rather than articulating positions on matters of political economy, Bergoglio prefers to emphasize spirituality and holiness, believing that this will naturally lead to greater concern for the suffering of the poor. He has, however, voiced support for social programs, and publicly challenged free-market policies.
Relations with the Argentine government
Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio greets President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, December, 2007.
On April 15, 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit priests, whom he, as superior of the Society of Jesus of Argentina in 1976, had asked to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. Bergoglio’s spokesman has flatly denied the allegations. No evidence was presented linking the cardinal to this crime.
Prophecy of the Popes
The Prophecy of the Popes (Latin: Prophetia Sancte Malachiae Archiepiscopi, de Summis Pontificibus) is a series of 112 short, cryptic phrases in Latin which purport to predict the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few antipopes), beginning with Pope Celestine II. The alleged prophecies were first published by Benedictine monk Arnold Wion in 1595. Wion attributes the prophecies to Saint Malachy, a 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland.
Author and publisher with a specialty in End Times and prophecy, Tom Horn, discussed his new research on the prophecy of the Popes, and how 2012 will be the fulfillment of St. Malachy’s prediction that the Catholic Church will see one final Pope before its destruction. Almost 900 years ago, the Irish seer, St. Malachy, came to Rome and “suddenly had this frenzied vision in which he wrote down the descriptives of every Pope that would ever exist from his day to the final Pope,” Horn reported. According to Malachy’s prophesied list, the next Pope after the current one (Pope Benedict) will be the last one, #112. This final Pope, Petrus Romanus (or Peter the Roman) will lead the Church into the great tribulation period and the destruction of Rome. Some Catholic mystics believe he will be an infiltrator under Satanic control. Evangelical prophecy refers to this person as the “False Prophet” who helps to usher in the Antichrist, Horn continued.
Final part of the prophecies in Lignum Vitæ (1595), p. 311.
Given the very accurate description of popes up to 1590 and lack of accuracy after that year, historians generally conclude that the alleged prophecies are a fabrication written shortly before they were published. The Roman Catholic Church also dismisses them as forgery. The prophecies may have been created in an attempt to suggest that Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli’s bid for the papacy in the second conclave of 1590 was divinely ordained.
Proponents of the prophecies claim that Pope Benedict XVI corresponded to the pope described in the penultimate prophecy. The list ends with a pope identified as “Peter the Roman”, whose pontificate will allegedly bring the destruction of the city of Rome and usher in the beginning of the Apocalypse.
Statue of Saint Malachy (1094–1148), to whom Wion attributes the authorship of the prophecies. Malachy died over four centuries before the prophecies first appeared.
The alleged prophecies were first published in 1595 by a Benedictine named Arnold Wion in his Lignum Vitæ, a history of the Benedictine order. Wion attributed the prophecies to Saint Malachy, the 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh. He explained that the prophecies had not, to his knowledge, ever been printed before, but that many were eager to see them. Wion includes both the alleged original prophecies, consisting of short, cryptic Latin phrases, as well as an interpretation applying the statements to historical popes up to Urban VII (pope for thirteen days in 1590), which Wion attributes to Alphonsus Ciacconius.
Saint Malachy – The Prophecy of the Popes. Herein Lightdescent presents “a few intriguing connections to link the newly elected Pope Francis I or Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the 112th Prophecy of Malachy who describes him as Peter the Roman. The New Pope was in fact born in the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires, which was founded by Pedro de Mendoza. Pedro = Peter. And whereas Peter is “The Rock” of the Catholic Church. Mendoza translates as “Cold Mountain”. Thus we have 1) Peter the Rock & 2) Peter the “cold mountain”. Also, there is a 400 year difference between the birth of the New Pope and the establishment of Buenos Aires. A most Harmonious value to be sure.”
According to an account put forward in 1871 by Abbé Cucherat, Malachy was summoned to Rome in 1139 by Pope Innocent II to receive two wool palliums for the metropolitan sees of Armagh and Cashel. While in Rome, Malachy purportedly experienced a vision of future popes, which he recorded as a sequence of cryptic phrases. This manuscript was then deposited in the Vatican Secret Archives, and forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1590, supposedly just in time for a papal conclave ongoing at the time.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a contemporary biographer of Malachy who recorded the saint’s alleged miracles, makes no mention of the prophecies, nor are they mentioned in any record prior to their 1595 publication.
Several historians have concluded that the prophecies are a late 16th‑century forgery. Spanish monk and scholar Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro wrote in his Teatro Crítico Universal (1724–1739), in an entry called Purported prophecies, that the high level of accuracy of the alleged prophecies up until the date they were published, compared with their high level of inaccuracy after that date, is evidence that they were created around the time of publication. The prophecies and explanations given in Wion correspond very closely to a 1557 history of the popes by Onofrio Panvinio (including replication of errors made by Panvinio), which may indicate that the prophecies were written based on that source.
One theory to explain the creation of the prophecies, put forward by 17th century French priest and encyclopaedist Louis Moréri, among others, is that they were spread by supporters of Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli in support of his bid to become pope during the 1590 conclave to replace Urban VII. In the prophecies, the pope following Urban VII is given the description “Ex antiquitate Urbis” (“from the old city”), and Simoncelli was from Orvieto, which in Latin is Urbevetanum, old city. The prophecies may, therefore, have been created in an attempt to demonstrate that Simoncelli was destined to be pope. Simoncelli was not elected pope; Urban VII was succeeded by Pope Gregory XIV, born Niccolò Sfondrati.
Celestine II (d. 1144), the first pope mentioned in the prophecies.
The interpretation of the prophecies for pre-publication popes provided by Wion involves close correspondences between the mottos and the popes’ birthplaces, family names, personal arms, and pre-papal titles. For example, the first motto, Ex castro Tiberis (from a castle on the Tiber), fits Pope Celestine II’s birthplace in Città di Castello, on the Tiber.
Efforts to connect the prophecies to historical popes who were elected after its publication have been more strained. For example, Pope Clement XIII is referred to in a prophecy as Rosa Umbriae (the rose of Umbria), but was not from Umbria nor had any but the most marginal connection with the region, having been briefly pontifical governor of Rieti, at the time part of Umbria.
One writer notes that among the post-publication (post-1595) predictions there remain “some surprisingly appropriate phrases,” while adding that “it is of course easy to exaggerate the list’s accuracy by simply citing its successes,” and that “other tags do not fit so neatly.” Among the reported ‘successes’ are ‘Religion depopulated’ for Benedict XV (1914–22) whose papacy included World War One and the atheistic communist Russian Revolution; ‘Light in the sky’ for Leo XIII (1878-1903), with a comet in his coat of arms; and ‘Flower of flowers’ for Paul VI (1963–78), with fleur-de-lys in his coat of arms.
Peter Bander, then Head of Religious Education at a Cambridge college, wrote in 1969:
If we were to place the works of those who have repudiated the Prophecies of Malachy on scales and balance them against those who have accepted them, we would probably reach a fair equilibrium; however, the most important factor, namely the popularity of the prophecies, particularly among the ordinary people (as distinct from scholars), makes them as relevant to the second half of the twentieth century as they have ever been.
— Bander 1969, p. 10.
M.J. O’Brien, a Catholic priest who authored an 1880 monograph on the prophecies, provided a more critical assessment:
These prophecies have served no purpose. They are absolutely meaningless. The Latin is bad. It is impossible to attribute such absurd triflings… to any holy source. Those who have written in defence of the prophecy… have brought forward scarcely an argument in their favour. Their attempts at explaining the prophecies after 1590 are, I say with all respect, the sorriest trifling.
— O’Brien 1880, p. 110.
In recent times, some interpreters of prophetic literature have drawn attention to the prophecies due to their imminent conclusion; if the list of descriptions is matched on a one-to-one basis to the list of historic popes since the prophecies’ publication, Benedict XVI (2005-2013) would correspond to the second to last of the papal descriptions, Gloria olivae (the glory of the olive). The longest and final prophecy predicts the Apocalypse:
In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit.
Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus, quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur, & judex tremendus judicabit populum suum. Finis.
This may be translated into English as:
In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop].
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.
Several historians and interpreters of the prophecies note that they leave open the possibility of unlisted popes between “the glory of the olive” and the final pope, “Peter the Roman. In the Lignum Vitae, the line In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit. forms a separate sentence and paragraph of its own. While often read as part of the “Peter the Roman” prophecy, other interpreters view it as a separate, incomplete sentence explicitly referring to additional popes between “the glory of the olive” and “Peter the Roman”.
The list can be divided into two groups; one of the 74 popes and antipopes who reigned prior to the appearance of the prophecies c. 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the pope is consistently clear. The other is of the 38 mottos attributed to popes who have reigned since 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the pope is often strained or totally absent and could be viewed as shoehorning or postdiction.
René Thibaut divides the table at a different point, between the 71st and 72nd motto, asserting that there is a change in style at this point. He uses this distinction to put forward the view that the first 71 mottos are post-dated forgeries, while the remainder are genuine. Hildebrand Troll echoes this view, noting that mottos 72-112 use a symbolic language related to the character of the pope and his papacy, in contrast to the more literal mottos for earlier popes.
Popes and antipopes 1143–1590 (pre-publication)
The text on the silver lines below reproduces the original text (including punctuation and orthography) of the 1595 Lignum Vitae, which consisted of three parallel columns for the popes before 1590. The first column contained the motto, the second the name of the pope or antipope to whom it was attached (with occasional errors), and the third an explanation of the motto. There are some indications that both the mottos and explanations were the work of a single 16th century individual. The original list was unnumbered.
Bernard of Clairvaux’s biography of Malachy makes no mention of the prophecy, nor is it mentioned in any record prior to its 1595 publication. Some sources, including the most recent editions of the Catholic Encyclopedia, suggest that the prophecy is a late 16th‑century forgery. Some have suggested that it was created by Nostradamus and was credited to Saint Malachy so the purported seer would not be blamed for the destruction of the papacy. Supporters, such as author John Hogue, who wrote a popular book titled The Last Pope about the claims, generally argue that, even if the author of the prophecies is uncertain, the predictions are still valid.
St. Francis of Assisi
The new Pope Francisco took his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi (Italian: Francesco d’Assisi, born Giovanni di Bernardone; 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men’s Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women not able to live the lives of itinerant preachers followed by the early members of the Order of Friars Minor or the monastic lives of the Poor Clares. Though he was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Saint Francis of Assisi by Jusepe de Ribera
Francis was the son of a wealthy foreign cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica. The experience moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon amassed a following. His Order was authorized by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which became an enclosed religious order for women, as well as the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance (commonly called the Third Order).
In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene. In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first recorded person to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of October 3, 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 141.
On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment, and is one of the two patron saints of Italy (with Catherine of Siena). It is customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4.He is also known for his love of the Eucharist, his sorrow during the Stations of the Cross, and for the creation of the Christmas creche or Nativity Scene.
Many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis deal with his love for animals. Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint’s humility towards nature is recounted in the “Fioretti” (“Little Flowers”), a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint’s death. It is said that, one day, while Francis was travelling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to “wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds.” The birds surrounded him, intrigued by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. He is often portrayed with a bird, typically in his hand.
Another legend from the Fioretti tells that in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and so he went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though the saint pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at the feet of St. Francis. “Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil,” said Francis. “All these people accuse you and curse you…But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.” Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly. In return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. Finally, to show the townspeople that they would not be harmed, Francis blessed the wolf.
Francis preached the teaching of the Catholic Church, that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of the primordial sin of man. He preached to man and beast the universal ability and duty of all creatures to praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves.
On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis to be the Patron of Ecology.
Then during the World Environment Day 1982, he said that St. Francis’ love and care for creation was a challenge for contemporary Catholics and a reminder “not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment even to those who succeed us.” The same Pope wrote on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990, the saint of Assisi “offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation…” He went on to make the point that St Francis: “As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.”
Pope John Paul II concluded that section of the document with these words, “It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of ‘fraternity’ with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created.
The office of the pope is known as the papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is often called the “Holy See” (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the “Apostolic See” based upon the Church tradition that the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred in Rome. The pope is also head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome.
The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in human history. The Popes in ancient times helped in the spread of Christianity and the resolution of various doctrinal disputes. In the Middle Ages they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs. Currently, in addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are dedicated to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, charitable work, and the defense of human rights.
Popes have gradually been forced to give up temporal power, and papal authority is now almost exclusively restricted to matters of religion. Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more firmly expressed, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally “from the chair (of St. Peter)”—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals. The first explicit such occasion (after the proclamation), and so far the last, was the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in 1950.
The Jesuits today form the largest single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, although they are surpassed by the Franciscan family of first orders Order of Friars Minor (OFM), OFM Capuchins, and Conventuals. As of 1 January 2007, Jesuits numbered 19,216: 13,491 clerks regular (priests), 3,049 scholastics (students to become priests), 1,810 brothers (not priests) and 866 novices. Members serve in 112 nations on six continents with the largest number in India and USA. Their average age was 57.3 years: 63.4 years for priests, 29.9 years for scholastics. and 65.5 years for brothers. The Society is divided into 91 Provinces with 12 dependent Regions: three in Africa, four in the Americas and five in Asia and Oceania. Altogether, they constitute 10 administrative units. (Assistancies)
The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J., SJ or SI) is a Christian male religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits and are also known colloquially as “God’s Marines”, these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola’s military background and members’ willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and live in extreme conditions. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. The society’s founding principles are contained in the document Formula of the Institute, written by Ignatius of Loyola. Jesuits are known for their work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue.
Ignatius founded the society after being wounded in battle and experiencing a religious conversion. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including St. Francis Xavier and Bl. Pierre Favre, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Rule 13 of Ignatius’ Rules for Thinking with the Church said: “That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity [...], if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.” Ignatius’ plan of the order’s organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by the bull containing the Formula of the Institute. The opening lines of this founding document would declare that the Society of Jesus was founded to “strive especially for the propagation and defense of the faith and progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine.” The Society participated in the Counter-Reformation and later in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church.
The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General, currently Adolfo Nicolás.
The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of St Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit Mother Church.
St. Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain) and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, being a pioneer and struggling to learn the local languages in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. It was a goal of Xavier to one day reach China.
He was first buried on a beach at Shangchuan Island. His incorrupt body was taken from the island in February 1553 and was temporarily buried in St. Paul’s church in Portuguese Malacca on 22 March 1553. An open grave in the church now marks the place of Xavier’s burial. Pereira came back from Goa, removed the corpse shortly after 15 April 1553, and moved it to his house. On 11 December 1553, Xavier’s body was shipped to Goa. The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on 2 December 1637.
St. Francis Xavier’s humerus. St. Joseph’s Church, Macao
Sign accompanying St. Francis Xavier’s humerus
The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptize his converts, was detached by Superior General Claudio Acquaviva in 1614. It has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.
Another of Xavier’s arm bones was brought to Macau where it was kept in a silver reliquary. The relic was destined for Japan but religious persecution there persuaded the church to keep it in Macau’s Cathedral of St. Paul. It was subsequently moved to St. Joseph’s and in 1978 to the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier on Coloane Island. More recently the relic was moved to St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum.
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