Pope Francis visited the General Curia of the Jesuits in Rome on July 7, 2019. The Curia is located two steps from the Vatican, in the Borgo Santo Spirito.
In Anticipation of the Feast of Saint Ignatius
Alessandro Gisotti, the Holy See’s spokesman, confirmed the news, published on Instagram by American Jesuit Robert Bellecer, on Monday, July 8, in a press release in four languages.
The Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office stated: “I confirm that the Holy Father made a private visit yesterday to the General Curia of the Society of Jesus, where he had lunch with the Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa and with his brother Jesuits.”
He reminded that Pope Francis has the habit of going to visit the Jesuits of Rome around July 31, liturgical feast of their Founder — in 1540 –, Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556).” As is known, the Pope has already rendered visits, in a private capacity to his brother Jesuits in past years, in anticipation of the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.”
First Visit in 2013
In 2013, for the feast of Saint Ignatius, the first Jesuit Pope in the Society’s history, went to the church of “Gesu,” near Piazza Venezia, which houses the Founder’s tomb. This church, dedicated to Jesus’ name, is the premier church of the Jesuits and model for all the others.
In the “Roman palace” that adjoins the church, on the right of the facade, are the “rooms,” restored today, where Saint Ignatius resided for some 20 years, while he was the first Superior General of the Society of Jesus and wrote the Constitutions. It was also there that he was “born to Heaven” at 64.
“At the beginning of the month of July 1556, extreme fatigue and intolerable sufferings forced Ignatius to rest. A last mail left again on the evening of July 30. He died the next morning at dawn,” recounts his “Little Life” online.
A few days earlier, on July 28, 2013, in the plane bringing him back from the WYD in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Rome, Pope Francis confided to the press his intention: “I feel Jesuit in my spirituality, in the spirituality of the Exercises, in the spirituality I have in my heart. So much so that, in three days, I will go to celebrate with some Jesuits the feast of Saint Ignatius; I will go to say the Mass with them.”
Paolo dall’Oglio in 2014
On Thursday, July 31, 2014, on the occasion of the feast of Saint Ignatius, Pope Francis went to the Society’s General Curia, two steps from the Vatican. He took part in the meal with the Jesuits present and then shared a time of recreation.
The seven brothers and sisters of Italian Jesuit Paolo Dall’Oglio, abducted in Syria and for whom the Pope launched an appeal –, also took part in that meal. The Pope spent a few minutes with them.
He also visited the buildings with Father Adolfo Nicolas, then Superior General of the Society. He also had photographs taken with the cooks and went to recollect himself in the chapel.
Mercy in 2015 and Poland in 2016
In 2015, in the logic of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis granted a plenary indulgence to pilgrims who went to the shrines of Loyola and Manresa, Spain, in the course of the celebration of the first jubilee year of the Ignatian Way, which began on July 31.
In the afternoon of July 30, 2016, in Poland for the WYD, Pope Francis made a surprise visit, which he has a habit of doing during his Apostolic Journeys. As he has done in other countries, he met with the Jesuit Polish Community in Krakow.
On the fourth day of his trip, the Jesuit Pope engaged in a dialogue with some 30 of his brothers — in the majority, young men surrounded by their Provincial leaders — for more than half an hour. It was also a way of marking the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Congregation’s Founder, celebrated the following day.
One week earlier, in 2016, before leaving for the Polish World Youth Day, he lunched in the General Curia.
Let Oneself Be “Conquered by Jesus”
On July 31, 2017, Pope Francis lunched in the Jesuits’ General Curia in Rome; it was a “private visit.” He published this message on his Twitter account: “As Saint Ignatius of Loyola, let us allow ourselves to be conquered by the Lord Jesus and, guided by Him, put ourselves at the service of our neighbor.”
In 2018, the Pontiff addressed a message to the Executive Council of the Community of Christian Life (CVX) , Mauricio Lopez Oropeza, and to all the participants in the 17th World Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from July 22-31, on the theme “CVX, a Gift for the Church and for the World,” on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Association’s foundation.
And, on July 31, on receiving thousands of altar boys, the Holy Father recommended the example of Saint Ignatius: “Today’s Saint, Ignatius of Loyola, who as a young soldier thought of his own glory, at the right moment was drawn by the glory of God and he discovered there, the center and meaning of life. Let us be imitators of the Saints: let us do everything for the glory of God and for the salvation of our brothers. However, pay attention and remember: on this path following the Saints, on this path of holiness, there is no place for lazy youths.”
The “Spiritual Exercises”
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was proclaimed Blessed in 1609 by Pope Paul V and he was canonized on March 12, 1622, by Pope Gregory XV. He was proclaimed Patron Saint of all Spiritual Retreats by <Pope Pius XI> in 1922, for his Spiritual Exercises.
Blessed Pope Paul VI himself said: “The practice of Exercises constitutes not only a bracing and fortifying break for the Spirit, in the midst of the noise in modern life, but today also it’s an irreplaceable school to introduce souls to a greater intimacy with God, to love of virtue and the true science of life, as gift of God and as response to His call.”
His most famous phrase is, perhaps: “Have confidence in God, as if the success of your action depended entirely on you, and not at all on God; but, at the same time, apply your soul to your acts as if you were powerless, and God must do all.”