The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the Papacy has greatly renewed interest in the Jesuit order. This book offers a detailed history of the Societas Jesu, chronicling its entire development, from the life and works of its founder, Ignatius of Loyola, up to the present day. A powerful and controversial order, the Society of Jesus played a crucial role in 16th and 17th century Europe, educating its elites, and beyond Europe, with intense missionary works (symbolized, for example, by the accomplishments of Matteo Ricci in China). Dissolved in 1773 and then re-instated in 1814, the Society has continued to be an important part of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in cultural terms, as in Latin America, where it has spread innovative thinking developed within the post-Council II Church.
Claudio Ferlan is a researcher at the Bruno Kessler Foundation’s Italian-German Historical Institute in Trento.