Pope Francis is to celebrate 200 years since Pope Pius VII reinstated the Society of Jesus into the Church by celebrating Mass at 5pm this Saturday in the Church of the Gesù in Rome.
Founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the “Society of Jesus” was suppressed in 1773 by Clement XIV with the brief “Dominus ac Redemptor”. Monarchies, attempting to centralize and secularize political power, viewed the Jesuits as being too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous from the monarchs in whose territory they operated.
The growing resentment led some Catholic countries to threaten breaking away from the Church, leading Clement XIV to eventually yield in suppressing the Society “in the name of peace of the Church and to avoid a secession in Europe.”
With the papal bull “Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum”, Pius VII readmitted the Jesuits on August 7, 1814. Following the great suffering brought about by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, many began to express their wish that the Jesuits be restored to their former state.
Determined to achieve this as soon as possible, Pius VII set about completing the restoration after being freed from imprisonment by Napoleon and returning to the Vatican. The Jesuits were reinstated into the Church after 41 years of suppression that had harmed the Society and its missions abroad.
The Church of the Gesù is the mother church of the Society of Jesus.