[Society of Jesus]
Order of secular clergy recognized by Pope Paul III in 1540. Of all the new orders of secular clergy founded in the Counter-Reformation period (16th and 17th centuries), the Jesuits were to become the most numerous and influential. At first regarded with suspicion by the papacy, they gradually came to be recognized as the most powerful force in the Roman Catholic recovery. The canonization in 1622 of two of the original Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier (1506–62; can 1622), marked the complete acceptance of the order into the ranks of Catholic orthodoxy.
In 1528 Ignatius Loyola, after making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, began a seven-year period of study in Paris. While there he gathered around him a group of six friends who were to form the nucleus of the new order, and in 1534 they took the vows of poverty and chastity, promising to go as pilgrims to Jerusalem, or, failing that, to offer their services to the Pope. In ...