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Bicentenary of the Restoration of Jesuits

HONG KONG (SE): As the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus, the superior general of the Jesuits approaches, Father Adolfo Nicholás sj, has written to all members of the society asking them to commemorate the occasion in 2014 with a desire to learn from history.

The Jesuits were suppressed on 21 July 1773 by Pope Clement XIV and expelled from every country in Europe with the exception of Russia. The Restoration took place in 1814 with a letter from Pope Pius VII.

Father Nicholás is asking members of the society and those who work with them to reflect on five questions as a preparation for the commemoration.

“What does it mean for us today that the society, which outside the Russian empire lost everything during the suppression, was able to begin again without any resources?” Father Nicholás begins.

“What might we learn from the attempts of the restored society to be faithful to the Ignatian heritage in vastly changed circumstances?” he continues.

He quotes from an 1830 letter written by then-father general, Father Jan Rloothaan, saying that the temptation was strong to love the external or superficial aspects of the society; the esteem of the wider society, riches and political influence, in a challenge to reflect on the core values of the spirit rooted in the Spiritual Exercises.

He also points to St. Joseph Pignatelli, who he says even during the suppression maintained contact with his brothers in Christ. “What does that witness say to us today,” Father Nicholás asks.

He points out that the immediate time after the Restoration is rich in its mission history, as 19 per cent of the then—5,209 membership was working outside of the provinces they had joined.

He points to it as a time of great expansion where provinces like Australia, the Americas and Africa, as well as Asia got off the ground.

Finally he asks what the society can learn from its experience during the precarious and fragile existence of the Russian empire, and the fledgling new beginning.

He stresses that reflection must not have any hint of triumphalism, but express a joy of serving the Church and ministering to those in greatest need.

Officially, the commemoration will begin on 3 January 2014, the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, and end on September 27, the anniversary of the confirmation of the society in 1540.


The original of the letter was written in English and ends with a wish that the society may better serve for the Greater Glory of God.

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