Society of Jesus

Society of Jesus
Official Christogram
AbbreviationSJ, Jesuits
Formation27 September 1540; 478 years ago (1540-09-27)
FoundersIgnatius of Loyola
Francis Xavier
Peter Faber
Alfonso Salmeron
Diego Laínez
Nicholas Bobadilla
Simão Rodrigues
Founded atParis, France
officialized in Rome
TypeOrder of clerics regular of pontifical right (for Men)
HeadquartersBorgo S. Spirito 4, C.P. 6139, 00195 Roma-Prati, Italy
Coordinates41°54′4.9″N 12°27′38.2″E / 41°54′4.9″N 12°27′38.2″E / 41.901361; 12.460611 Edit this at Wikidata
RemarksChurch of the Gesù is the Mother Church of the Jesuits, next to which Ignatius had his office
The Church of the Gesù, located in Rome, is the mother church of the Jesuits.

The Society of Jesus (SJ; Latin: Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits (Latin: Iesuitæ).[2] The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".

Ignatius was a nobleman who had a military background, and the members of the society were supposed to accept orders anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God[a] to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine."[4] Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers",[5] "God's marines",[6] or "the Company", which evolved from references to Ignatius' history as a soldier and the society's commitment to accepting orders anywhere and to endure any conditions.[7] The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and, later, in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

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.[8][9] The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome.[10] The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.

In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the name Pope Francis.


Jesuits in the world — January 2013[11]
Region Jesuits Percentage
Africa 1,509 9%
South Latin America 1,221 7%
North Latin America 1,226 7%
South Asia 4,016 23%
Asia-Pacific 1,639 9%
Central and East Europe 1,641 10%
South Europe 2,027 12%
West Europe 1,541 9%
North America 2,467 14%

As of 2012, the Jesuits formed the largest single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church[12] (although they are surpassed by the Franciscan family of orders of Friars Minor, Capuchins, and Conventuals). The Jesuits have experienced a decline in numbers in recent decades. As of 2018 the society had 15,842 members, 11,389 priests and 4,453 Jesuits in formation, which includes brothers and scholastics. This represents a 43.4 percent decline since 1977, when the society had a total membership of 28,038, of which 20,205 were priests.[13] This decline is most pronounced in Europe and the Americas, with relatively modest membership gains occurring in Asia and Africa.[14][15] There seems to be no "Pope Francis effect" in counteracting the fall of vocations among the Jesuits.[16]

The society is divided into 83 provinces along with six independent regions and ten dependent regions.[11] On 1 January 2007, members served in 112 nations on six continents with the largest number in India and the US. Their average age was 57.3 years: 63.4 years for priests, 29.9 years for scholastics, and 65.5 years for brothers.[17]

The current Superior General of the Jesuits is Arturo Sosa. The society is characterized by its ministries in the fields of missionary work, human rights, social justice and, most notably, higher education. It operates colleges and universities in various countries around the world and is particularly active in the Philippines and India. In the United States the Jesuits have historical ties to 28 colleges and universities and 61 high schools. The degree to which the Jesuits are involved in the administration of each institution varies. As of September 2018, 15 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the US had non-Jesuit lay presidents.[18] According to a 2014 article in The Atlantic, "the number of Jesuit priests who are active in everyday operations at the schools isn’t nearly as high as it once was".[19] Worldwide it runs 322 secondary schools and 172 colleges and universities. A typical conception of the mission of a Jesuit school will often contain such concepts as proposing Christ as the model of human life, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, lifelong spiritual and intellectual growth,[20] and training men and women for others.[21]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Jesuïet
Alemannisch: Jesuiten
العربية: يسوعيون
Avañe'ẽ: Hesu Irũ Aty
azərbaycanca: Yezuitlər ordeni
Bân-lâm-gú: Iâ-so͘-hoē
беларуская: Езуіты
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Езуіты
Bikol Central: Heswita
български: Йезуитски орден
Boarisch: Jesuitn
bosanski: Isusovci
Чӑвашла: Иезуитсем
Deutsch: Jesuiten
eesti: Jesuiidid
Esperanto: Jezuitoj
Frysk: Jezuïten
Gaeilge: Cumann Íosa
Gàidhlig: Comann Iosaid
한국어: 예수회
hrvatski: Družba Isusova
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: জেসুইটাস
Bahasa Indonesia: Yesuit
interlingua: Societate de Jesus
íslenska: Jesúítareglan
עברית: ישועים
Jawa: Yésuit
қазақша: Иезуиттер
Kiswahili: Shirika la Yesu
Kreyòl ayisyen: Jezwit
latgaļu: Jezuiti
latviešu: Jezuīti
Lëtzebuergesch: Jesuiten
lietuvių: Jėzuitai
Limburgs: Jezuïet
македонски: Исусовци
Malagasy: Zezoita
മലയാളം: ഈശോസഭ
Bahasa Melayu: Persatuan Jesus
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ià-sŭ-huôi
Nederlands: Jezuïeten
日本語: イエズス会
norsk nynorsk: Jesuittordenen
Piemontèis: Companìa ëd Gesù
polski: Jezuici
português: Companhia de Jesus
română: Ordinul iezuit
русский: Иезуиты
sardu: Gesuitas
sicilianu: Gesuiti
Simple English: Society of Jesus
slovenščina: Družba Jezusova
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Братьство Їисоуса
српски / srpski: Исусовци
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Isusovci
suomi: Jesuiitat
svenska: Jesuitorden
தமிழ்: இயேசு சபை
Türkçe: Cizvitler
українська: Товариство Ісуса
اردو: یسوعی
Tiếng Việt: Dòng Tên
吴语: 耶穌會
粵語: 耶穌會
中文: 耶稣会