The Founding of the Jesuit Order
Ignatius of Loyola
The founder of the Society of Jesus, the Spanish Basque don Inigo Lopez de
Recalde, was born at the castle of Loyola, in the province of Guipuzcoa, in
1491. He was one of the strangest types of monk-soldier ever engendered by the
Catholic world; of all the founders of religious orders, he may be the one
whose personality has left the strongest mark on the mind and behaviour
of his disciples and successors. This may be the reason for that "familiar
look" or "trade-mark", a fact which goes as far as physical resemblance. Mr.
Folliet disputes this fact (1), but many documents prove the permanence of a
"Jesuit" type through the ages. The most amusing of these testimonies is
found at the Guimet museum; on the golden background of a 16th century
screen, a Japanese artist portrayed, with all the humour of his race, the
landing of the Portuguese, and of the sons of Loyola in particular, on the
Nipponese islands. The amazement of this lover of nature and bright colours
is obvious in the way he depicted those long, black shadows with their
mournful faces on which is congealed all the arrogance of the fanatic ruler. The
likeness between the work of the oriental artist of the 16th century and our
Daumier of 1830 is there for all to see.
Like many other saints, Inigo—who later Romanised his name and
became Ignatius—looked far from being the one predestined to enlighten his
contemporaries (2). His stormy youth was filled with mistakes and even
"heinous crimes". A police report said he was "treacherous, brutal,
vindictive". All his biographers admit that he yielded to none of his boon
companions regarding the violence of the instincts, then a common thing.
"An unruly and conceited soldier", said one of his confidants—"he led a
disorderly life as far as women, gambling and duels were concerned",
(1) "La Croix", 31 st of July 1956.
(2) Like Saint Augustine, Saint Francis of Assisi and many others.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
added his secretary Polanco (3). All this is related to us by one of his
spiritual sons, R.P. Rouquette, who tried somewhat to explain and excuse this
hot temper which was eventually turned "ad majorem Dei gloriam". (To the
greater glory of God).
As is the case for many heroes of the Roman Catholic Church, a violent
physical blow was necessary to change his personality. He had been pageboy to
the treasurer of Castille until his master's disgrace. Then he became a gentleman
in the service of the Viceroy of Navarre; having lived the life of a courtier until
then, the young man started the life of a soldier by defending Pampeluna
against the French commanded by the Count de Foix. The wound which
decided his future life was inflicted during that siege. A leg broken by a bullet,
he was taken by the victorious French to his brother Martin Garcia, at the
castle of Loyola. Now starts the martyrdom of surgery without anaesthesia,
through which he had to go a second time as the work had not been done
properly. His leg was broken again and reset. In spite of all this, Ignatius was
left with a limp. One can understand that he only needed an experience such as
this to cause him a nervous breakdown. The "gift of tears" which was then
bestowed on him "in abundance"—and in which his pious biographers see a
favour from on high—is maybe only the result of his highly emotional nature,
henceforth to affect him more and more.
His sole entertainment, while lying wounded and in pain, was the reading of
the "Life of Christ" and the "Life of the Saints", the only books found in the
As he was practically uneducated and still affected by that terrible shock,
the anguish of Christ's passion and the martyrdom of the saints had an
indelible impact on him; this obsession led the crippled warrior on to the road of
"He put the books to one side and day-dreamed. A clear case of the
wakeful dream, this was a continuation into the adult years of the
imaginary game of the child... if we let it invade the psychic realm, the result is
neurosis and surrender of the will; that which is real takes second
At first sight, this diagnosis seems hardly to apply to the founder of such an
active order, nor to other "great mystics" and creators of religious societies,
all of whom had apparently great capacities for organization. But we find that
all of them are unable to resist their over-active imaginations and, for them,
the impossible becomes possible.
Here is what the same author says on this subject: "I want to point out the
(3) R.P. Jesuit Robert Rouquette, "Saint Ignace de Loyola" (Ed. Albin Michel, Paris 1944,
(4) R.P. Jesuit Robert Rouquette, op.cit., p.9.
IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
obvious outcome of the practice of mysticism by someone possessing a
brilliant intelligence. The weak mind indulging in mysticism is on
dangerous ground, but the intelligent mystic presents a far greater danger, us
his intellect works in a wider and deeper way... When the myth takes over from
the reality in an active intelligence, it becomes mere fanaticism; an infection
of the will which suffers from a partial enlargement or distortion".(5)
Ignatius of Loyola was a first-class example of that "active mysticism" and
"distortion of the will". Nevertheless, the transformation of the gentlemen-
warrior into the "general" of the most militant order in the Roman Church
was very slow; there were many faltering steps before he found his true
vocation. It is not our intention to follow him through all those different
stages. Let us recall the main points: in the spring of 1522, he left the ancestral
castle, with his mind made up to become a saint similar to those whose
edifying exploits he had been reading about in that big "gothic" volume.
Besides, did not the Madona herself appear to him one night, holding in her
arms the child Jesus? After a thorough confession at the monastry of
Montserrat, he was planning to go to Jerusalem. The plague was rife in
Barcelona and, as all maritime traffic had stopped, he had to stay at Manresa
for nearly a year. There, he spent his time in prayers, orisons, long fasts,
flagellating himself, practicing all the forms of maceration, and never
failing to appear before the "tribunal for penance", even though his
confession at Montserrat had apparently lasted three whole days; such a
thorough confession would have been sufficient to a less scrupulous sinner. All
this depicts quite clearly the mental and nervous state of the man. At last
delivered from that obsession of sin by deciding it was only a trick of Satan, he
devoted himself entirely to the varied and plentiful visions which were
haunting his feverish mind.
"It is because of a vision", says H. Boehmer, "that he started eating meat
again; it is a whole series of visions that revealed to him the mysteries of the
Catholic dogma and helped him to truly live it: in that way, he meditates
upon the Trinity under the shape of a musical instrument with three cords; the
mystery of the creation of the world through "something" hazy and light
coming out of a ray of sunshine; the miraculous descent of Christ into the
Eucharist as flashes of light entering the consecrated water, when the priest
held it up while praying; the human nature of Christ and the holy Virgin
under the form of a dazzling white body; and finally Satan as a serpentine and
shimmering shape similar to a multitude of sparkling and mysterious eyes
(6)." Is not this the start of the well-known Jesuitic image-making?
(5) Dr Legrain, "Le Mysticisme et la folie" (Ed. de l'ldee Libre, Herblay (S.-et-O.) 1931, pp.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
Mr. Boehmer adds that the deep meaning of the dogmas was revealed to
him, as a special favour from on-high, through transcendental intuitions.
"Many mysteries of Faith and science became suddenly clear to him and later
he pretended to have learned more in those short moments than during the
whole of his studies; however, he was never able to explain what these
mysteries were which suddenly became clear to him. There was only a hazy
recollection left, a feeling of something miraculous as if, at that moment, he
had become "another man with another intelligence".(7)
All this may be the result of a nervious disorder and can be identified with
what happens to smokers of opium and eaters of hashish: that enlargement
or extension of the ego, that illusion of soaring up beyond what is real, a
flashing sensation leaving only a dazed recollection.
Blissful visions and illuminations were constant companions of this
mystic throughout his life.
"He never doubted the reality of these revelations. He chased Satan with a
stick as he would have done a mad dog; he talked to the Holy Spirit as one does
to another person actually; he asked for the approval of God, the Trinity and
the Madonna on all his projects and would burst into tears of joy when they
appeared to him. On those occasions, he had a foretaste of celestial bliss; the
heavens were open to him, and the Godhead was visible and perceptible to
Is not this the perfect case of an hallucinated person? It will be this same
perceptible and visible Godhead that the spiritual sons of Loyola will
constantly offer to the world—not only for political reasons, leaning on and
flattering the deep-rooted inclination in the heart of man for idolatry— but also
by conviction, having been well and truly indoctrinated. From the start,
mediaeval mysticism has prevailed in the Society of Jesus; it is still the great
animator, in spite of its readily assumed worldly, intellectual and learned
aspects. Its basic axiom is: "All things to all men". The arts, literature,
science and even philosophy have been mere means or nets to catch souls, like
the easy indulgences granted by its casuists and for which laxity they were so
often reproved. To this Order, there is not a realm where human weakness
cannot be worked upon, to incite the spirit and will to surrender and go
back to a more childish and restful devotion. So they work for the bringing
about of the "kingdom of God" according to their own ideal: a great flock
under the Holy Father's crozier. That learned men could have such an
anachronic ideal seems very strange, yet it is undeniably so and the confirmation
of an oft-disregarded fact: the pre-eminence of the emotions in the life of the
spirit. Besides, Kant said that every philosophy is
(6) and (7) H. Boehmer, professor at the University of Bonn, "Les Jesuites" (Armand Colin,
Paris 1910, pp. 12-13).
(8) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p. 14.
IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
but the expression of the philosopher's temperament or character.
Apart from individual methods, the Jesuitic "temperament" seems more or
less uniform amongst them. "A mixture of piety and diplomacy, asceticism
and worldly wisdom, mysticism and cold calculation; as was Loyola's
character, so is the trade-mark of this Order".(9).
In the first place, every Jesuit chose this particular Order because of his
natural dispositions; but he really becomes a "son" of Loyola after rigorous
tests and systematic training lasting no less than fourteen years.
In that way, the paradox of this Order has continued for four hundred
years: an Order which endeavours to be "intellectual" but, simultaneously, has
always been, within the Roman Church and society, the champion of the
(9) J. Huber, professor of catholic theology in Munich, "Les Jesuites" (Sandoz et
Fischbacher, Paris 1875, p. 127).
20 Section I
The Spiritual Exercises
When the time came at last for Ignatius to leave Monresa, he couldn't
foresee his destiny, but the anxiety concerning his own salvation was not his
main concern any more; it is as a missionary, and not as a mere pilgrim, that
he left for the Holy Land in March 1523. He arrived in Jerusalem on the 1st
of September, after many adventures, only to leave again soon after, on the
orders of the Franciscan's provincial who was not desirious to see the
precarious peace between Christians and Turks endangered by an untimely
The disappointed missionary passed through Venice, Genoa, and
Barcelona on his way to the University of Alcala where he started
theological studies; it is there also that his "cure of souls" amongst
voluntary listeners began.
"In these conventicles, the most common manifestations of piety
amongst the fair sex were fainting fits; by that, we realise how hard he
applied his religious methods, and how such a fervent propaganda would
soon arouse the curiosity and then the suspicion of the inquisitors... "In
April 1527, the Inquisition put Ignatius in prison to try him on the grounds of
heresy. The inquiry examined those peculiar incidents amongst his
devotees, the strange assertions of the accused concerning the wonderful
power his chastity conferred on him, and his bizarre theories on the
difference between mortal and venial sins; these theories had striking
affinities with those of Jesuit casuists of the subsequent epoch.(lO)
Released but forbidden to hold meetings, Ignatius left for Salamanque
and soon started the same activities. Similar suspicions amongst the
inquisitors led to imprisonment again. Release was only on condition of
desisting from such conduct. Thus it was, he journeyed to Paris to continue
his studies at the college of Montaigu. His efforts to endoctrinate his
(10) H. Boehmer, op.cit. pp.20-21, 25.
THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
fellow-students according to his peculiar methods brought him into trouble
again with the Inquisition. Becoming more prudent,he met with just six of his
college friends, two of which will become highly esteemed recruits:
Salmeron and Lainez.
What did he have in himself that so powerfully attracted young people to an
old student? It was his ideal and a little charm he carried on himself: a small
book, in fact a very minute book which is, in spite of its smallness, amongst
those which have influenced the fate of humanity. This volume has been
printed so many times that the number of copies is unknown; it was also the
object of more than 400 commentaries. It is the textbook of the Jesuits and at
the same time the resume of the long inner development of their master: the
Mr Boehmer says later:
"Ignatius understood more clearly than any other leader of men who
preceded him that the best way to raise a man to a certain ideal is to become
master of his imagination. We "imbue into him spiritual forces which he
would find very difficult to eliminate later", forces more lasting than all the best
principles and doctrines; these forces can come up again to the surface,
sometimes after years of not even mentioning them, and become so
imperative that the will finds itself unable to oppose any obstacle, and has to
follow their irresistible impulse".(12)
Thus all the "truths" of the Catholic dogma will have to be, not only
meditated, but lived and felt by the one who devotes himself to these
"Exercises", with the help of a "director". In other words, he will have to see and
relive the mystery with the greatest possible intensity. The candidate's
sensitiveness becomes impregnated with these forces whose persistence in his
memory, and even more so in his subconscious, will be as strong as the effort
he made to evoke and assimilate them. Beside sight, the other senses such as
hearing, smell, taste and touch will play their part. In short, it is mere
controlled auto-suggestion. The angels' rebellion, Adam and Eve driven out
of Paradise, God's tribunal, the evangelical scenes and phases of the Passion
are, as one would say, relived in front of the candidate. Sweet and blissful
scenes alternate with the most sombre ones at a skilfully arranged rythm. No
need to say that Hell has the prominent part in that "magic lantern show",
with its lake of fire into which the damned are thrown, the awful concert of
screams, the atrocious strench of sulphur and burning flesh. Yet Christ is
always there to sustain the visionary who doesn't know how to thank him for
not having thrown him already into hell to pay for his past sins.
Here is what Edgar Quinet wrote:
"Not only visions are pre-arranged, but also sighs, inhalings, breathing
(11) and (12) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.25, 34-35.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
are noted down; the pauses and intervals of silence are written down like on a
music sheet. In case you do not believe me, I will quote: "The third way of
praying, by measuring the words and periods of silence". This particular
manner of praying consists of leaving out some words between every
breath; and a little further: "Make sure to keep equal gaps between every
breath and choking sob and word". (Et paria anhelituum ac vocum
interstitia observet), which means that the man, being inspired or not,
becomes just a machine which must sigh, sob, groan, cry, shout or catch
one's breath at the exact moment and in the order which experience shows to
be the most profitable". (12a)
It is understandable that after four weeks devoted to these intensive
Exercises, with a director as his only companion, the candidate would be
ripe for the subsequent training and breaking.
This is what Quinet has to say when referring to the creator of such an
"Do you know what distinguishes him from all the ascetics of the past?
The fact that he could observe and analyse himself logically and coldly in that
state of rapture, while for all the others even the idea of reflection was
Imposing on his disciples actions which, to him, were spontaneous, he
needed just thirty days to break, with this method, the will and reasoning, in
the manner in which a rider breaks his horse. He only needed thirty days
"triginta dies", to subdue a soul. Note that Jesuitism expanded together with
modern inquisition: while the inquisition dislocated the body, the spiritual
Exercises broke up the thoughts under Loyola's machine".(12b)
In any case, one could not examine his "spiritual" life too deeply, even
without the honour of being a Jesuit; Loyola's methods are to be
recommended to the faithful and ecclesiastics in particular, as we are
reminded by commentators such as R.P. Pinard de la Boullaye, author of
"Mental prayer for all"; inspired by saint Ignatius, this very valuable aid for the
soul would, we think, be more explicit if the title read "alienation" instead of
(12a) Michelet et Guinet: "Des Jesuites", (Hachette, Paulin, Paris 1845, pp.185-187). (12b)
Michelet et Guinet: "Des Jesuites", (Hachette, Paulin, Paris, 1845, pp.185-
The founding of the Company
"The Society of Jesus" was constituted on Assumption Day in 1534, in the
chapel of Notre-Dame de Montmartre.
Ignatius was then forty-four years old. After communion, the animator and
his companions vowed to go to the Holy Land, as soon as their studies were
finished, to convert the infidels. But the following year found them in Rome
where the pope, who was then organising a crusade against the lurks with the
German Emperor and the Republic of Venice, showed them how impossible
their project was because of it. So Ignatius and his companions
dedicated themselves to missionary work in Christian lands; in Venice, his
apostolate roused again the suspicions of the Inquisition. The Constitution of
the Company of Jesus was at last drafted and approved in Rome, by Paul III,
in 1540, and the Jesuits put themselves at the disposition of the pope,
promising him unconditional obedience, Teaching, confession, preaching
and charitable work were the field of action for this new Order, but foreign
missions were not excluded as, in 1541, Francis Xavier and two companions
left Lisbon to go and evangelise the Far East. In 1546, the political side of their
career was launched, when the pope chose Lainez and Salmeron to represent
him at the Council of Trent in the capacity of "pontifical theologians".
Mr Boehmer writes:
"Then, the Order was employed by the pope only on a temporary basis. But
it performed its functions with so much promptitude and zeal that, already
under Paul III, it had implanted itself very firmly into all chosen kinds of
activities and won the confidence of the Curia for all time".(12d)
This confidence was fully justified; the Jesuits, and Lainez in particular,
together with their devoted friend Cardinal Morone, became the cunning and
untiring champions of pontifical authority and intangibility of the
(l2d) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.47-48.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
dogma, during the three sessions of that Council ending in 1562. By their
clever manoeuvres and dialectics, they succeeded in defeating the
opposition and all "heretic" claims including marriage of priests,
communion with the two elements, use of the vernacular in services and,
especially, reform of the papacy. Only the reform of convents was retained on
the agenda. Lainez himself, by a forceful counter-attack, upheld pontifical
infallibility which was promulgated three centuries later by the Vatican
Council. (13) The Holy See emerged strengthened from the crisis where it
nearly foundered, thanks to the steadfast actions of the Jesuits. The terms
chosen by Paul III to describe this new Order in his Bull of Authorisation
were then amply justified: "Regimen Ecclesiae militantis".
The fighting spirit developed more and more as time went on as, beside
foreign missions, the activities of Loyola's sons started to concentrate on the
souls of men, especially amongst ruling classes. Politics are their main field of
action, as all the efforts of these "directors" concentrate on one aim: the
submission of the world to the papacy, and to attain this the "heads" must be
conquered first. And to realise this ideal? Two very important weapons: to be
the confessors of the mighty and those in high places and the education of their
children. In that way, the present will be safe while the future is prepared.
The Holy See soon realised the strength this new Order would bring. At first,
the number of its members had been limited to sixty, but this restriction was
promptly lifted. When Ignatius died, in 1556, his sons were working amongst
pagans in India, China, Japan, the New World, but also and especially in
Europe: France, Southern and Western Germany, where they fought against
the "heresy", in Spain, Portugal, Italy and even England, getting in by way of
Ireland. Their history, full of vicissitudes, will be of a "Roman" network they
will constantly try to spread over the world, whose links will be forever torn
(13) Vatican Council (1870).
The Spirit of the Order
"Let us not forget, writes the Jesuit Rouquette, that, historically,
"ultramontanism" has been the practical affirmation of "universalism"... This
necessary universalism would be an empty word if it did not result in a practical
cohesion or obedience of Christianity: this is why Ignatius wanted this team to
be at the disposition of the pope... and be the champion of catholic unity,
unity which can be assured only through an effective submission to Christ's
The Jesuits wanted to impose this monarchical absolutism on the
Roman Church and they maintained it in civil society as they had to look
upon the sovereigns as temporal representatives of the Holy Father, true head
of Christianity; as long as those monarchs were entirely docile to their
common lord, the Jesuits were their most faithful supporters. On the other
hand, if these princes rebelled, they found in the Jesuits their worst
In Europe, wherever Rome's interests required the people to rise against their
king, or if these temporal princes had taken decisions embarrassing for the
Church, the Curia knew she would not find more able, cunning, or daring
outside the Society of Jesus when it came to intrigue, propaganda or even open
We have seen, through the spirit of the "Exercises", how the founder of this
Company was behind his time in his simplistic mysticism, ecclesiastic
discipline and, generally speaking, his conception of subordination. The
"Constitutions" and "Exercises", fundamentals to this system, leave us
without any doubts on that subject. No matter what his disciples may say—
especially today as modern ideas on this subject are totally different—
(l3a) R.P. Jesuit Rouquette, op.cit. p.44.
(14) Rene Fulop-Muler: "Les Jesuites et le secret de leur puissance" (Librairie Plon, Paris
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
obedience has a very special place, in fact incontestably the first, in the
summary of the Order's rules. Mr. Folliet may pretend to see in it nothing
more than "religious obedience", necessary to any congregation; R.P.
Rouquette writes boldly: "Far from being a diminution of man, this
intelligent and willing obedience is the height of freedom... a liberation from
oneself s bondage..."; one only has to read those texts to perceive the extreme,
if not monstrous character of this submission of soul and spirit imposed to
the Jesuits, making them always docile instruments in their superiors' hands,
and even more from their very beginning the natural ennemies of any kind
The famous "perinde ac cadaver" (as a corpse in the undertaker's hands), can
be found in all "spiritual literature", according to Mr. Folliet, and even in the
East, in the Haschichins' Constitution; the Jesuits are to be in the hands of
their superiors "as a staff obeying every impulse; as a ball of wax which can be
shaped and stretched in any direction; as a small crucifix being lifted and
moved at will"; these pleasant formulas are none the less very enlightening.
Remarks and explanations from the creator of this Order leave us without
any doubt as to their true meaning. Besides, amongst the Jesuits, not only
the will, but also reasoning and even moral scruple, must be sacrificed to the
primordial virtue of obedience which is, according to Borgia, "the strongest
rampart of Society".
"Let us be convinced that all is well and right when the superior
commands it", wrote Loyola. And again: "Even if God gave you an animal
without sense for master, you will not hesitate to obey him, as master and
guide, because God ordained it to be so."
And something even better: the Jesuit must see in his superior not a
fallible man, but Christ Himself. J. Huber, professor of Catholic theology in
Munich and author of one of the most important works on the Jesuits, wrote:
"Here is a proven fact: the "Constitutions" repeat five hundred times that one
must see Christ in the person of the General".(15)
The discipline of the Order, assimilated so often to that of the army, is then
nothing compared to the reality. "Military obedience is not the equivalent of
Jesuitic obedience; the latter is more extensive as it gets hold of the whole man
and is not satisfied like the other, with an exterior act, but requires the
sacrifice of the will and laying aside of one's own judgment".(16)
Ignatius himself wrote in his letter to the Portuguese Jesuits: "We must see
black as white, if the Church says so".
Such is this "height of freedom" and "liberation from one's own
bondage", praised earlier on by R.P. Rouquette. Indeed, the Jesuit is truly
(15) J. Huber. "Les Jesuites" (Sandoz et Fischbacher, Paris 1875, pp. 71 & 73).
(16) J. Huber: "Les Jesuites" (Sandoz et Fischbacher, Paris 1875, pp. 71 & 73).
THE SPIRIT OF THE ORDER
liberated from himself as he is totally subjected to his masters; any doubt or
scruple would be imputed to him as sin.
Mr. Boehmer writes:
"In the additions to the "Constitutions", the superiors are advised to
command the novices, as God did with Abraham, things apparently
criminal, to prove them; but they must proportion these temptations to
each one's strength. It is not difficult to imagine what could be the results of
such an education".(17)
The Order's life of ups and downs—there is not one country from which it
wasn't expelled—testifies that these dangers were recognised by all
governments, even the most Catholic. By introducing men so blindly
devoted to their cause to teaching among the higher classes, the
Company—champion of universalism, therefore ultra-montanism—was
inevitably recognised as a threat to civil authority, as the activity of the
Order, by the mere fact of their vocation, turned more and more towards
In a parallel way, what we call the Jesuitic spirit was developing amongst
its members. Nevertheless, the founder, inspired mainly by the needs of
foreign and home "missions", had not neglected skilfulness. He wrote in his
"Sententiae asceticae": "A clever carefulness together with a mediocre
purity is better than a greater holiness coupled with a less perfect
skilfulness. A good shepherd of souls must know how to ignore many
things and pretend not to understand them. Once he is master of the wills,
he will be able wisely to lead his students wherever he may choose. People
are entirely absorbed by passing interests, so we must not speak to them too
pointedly about their souls: it would be throwing the hook without the
Even the desired countenance of Loyola's sons was emphatically stated:
"They must hold their heads slightly down, without bending it to the left or
right; they must not look up, and when they speak to someone, they are not
to look them straight in the eyes so as to see them only indirectly..."(18)
Loyola's successors retained this lesson well in their memory, and
applied it very extensively in the pursuit of their plans.
(17) Gabriel Monod, in Introduction aux "Jesuites", de H. Boehmer, p. XVI (Armand Colin,
Paris) (18) Pierre Dominique: "La politique des Jesuites" (Grasset, Paris 1955, p.37).
28 Section I
The privileges of the Company
After 1558, Lainez, the subtle tactician of the Council of Trent, was made
general of the Congregation with the power to organise the Order as he was
inspired. The "Declarations" which he himself composed with Salmeron,
were added to the "Constitutions" to form a commentary; they accentuated
even more the despotism of the general elected for life. An admonitor
procurator and assistants, residing in Rome too, will help him generally to
administer the Order divided then into five congregations: Italy, Germany
France, Spain, England and America. These congregations were
themselves divided into Provinces grouping the different establishments of the
Order. Only the admonitor (or overseer) and assistants are nominated by the
Congregation. The general appoints all other officials, promulgates the
ordinances which are not to modify the Constitutions, administers the wealth
of the Order according to his own wishes and directs its activities for which he is
responsible to the pope only.
To this militia so tightly knit in the hand of its chief and which needs the
greatest autonomy to make its actions effective, the pope concedes
privileges which may seem exorbitant to other religious Orders.
By their Constitutions, the Jesuits were exempt from the cloistered rule
which applied to monastic life in general. In fact, they are monks living "in
the world" and, outwardly, nothing distinguishes them from the secular
clergy. But, contrary to this and other religious congregations, they are not
subjected to the bishop's authority. As early as 1545, a bull of Paul II
enabled them to preach, hear confession, dispense the sacraments, and say
mass; in short, exercise their ministry without having to refer to the bishop The
solemnisation of marriages is the only thing they are not allowed to
They have the power to give absolution, change vows for others which are
easier to fulfil, or even cancel them.
Mr Gaston Bally writes:
THE PRIVILEGES OF THE COMPANY
(19) Gaston Bally: "Les Jesuites" (Chambery, Imprimerie Nouvelle, 1902, pp.11-13). (20)
Gaston Bally, op.cit., pp.9-10, 16-17. (21) Pierre Dominique, op.cit., p.37.
"The general's power concerning absolution and dispensations is even wider.
He can lift all punishment inflicted on the members of the Society before or after
them entering the Order, absolve all their sins, even the sin of heresy and
schism, the falsification of apostolic writings, etc... "The general absolves, in
person or through a delegate, all those who are under his obedience, of the
unhappy state arising from excommunication, suspension or interdict, provided
these censures were not inflicted for excesses so enormous that others, beside
the papal tribunal, knew about them.
He also absolves the irregularity issuing, from bigamy, injuries done to
others, murder, assassination... as long as these wicked deeds were not publicly
known and the cause of a scandal".(19)
Finally, Gregory XIII bestowed on the Company the right to deal in
commerce and banking, a right it made use of extensively later on.
These dispensations and unprecedented powers were fully guaranteed to
"The popes called even upon princes and kings to defend these privileges; they
threatened with the great excommunication "latae sententiae" all those who
would try to infringe them. In 1574, a bull of Pius V gave the general the right to
restore these privileges to their original scope, against all tempts to alter or
curtail them, even if such curtailments were authoritatively documented by
papal revocation... By granting the Jesuits such exorbitant privileges which run
counter to the Church's antiquated constitution, the papacy wanted, not only to
supply them with powerful weapons to fight the "Infidels", but especially use
them as a bodyguard to defend her own unrestricted power in the Church and
against the Church". "To preserve the spiritual and temporal supremacy they
usurped during the middle ages, the popes sold the Church to the Order of Jesus
and, in consequence, surrendered themselves into their hands... If the papacy
was supported by the Jesuits, the whole existence of the Jesuits depended on the
spiritual and temporal supremacy of the papacy. In that way, the interests of
both parties were intimately bound together".(20)
But this select cohort needed secret auxiliaries to dominate civil society: this
role fell on those affiliated to the Company called Jesuits. "Many important
people were connected in that way with the Society: the emperors Ferdinand II
and Ferdinand III, Sigismond III, king of Poland, who had officially belonged to
the Company; Cardinal Infant, a duke of Savoy. And these were not the least
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
It is the same today; the 33,000 official members of the Society operate all
over the world in the capacity of her personnel, officers of a truly secret army
containing in its ranks heads of political parties, high ranking officials,
generals, magistrates, physicians, Faculty professors, etc., all of them striving
to bring about, in their own sphere, "l'Opus Dei", God's work, in reality the
plans of the papacy.
The Jesuits in Europe during the 16th and
Italy, Portugal, Spain
"France", wrote Mr. Boehmer, "is the cradle of the Society of Jesus, but in
Italy it received its programme and constitution. Therefore in Italy it first took
root and from there it spread abroad".(l)
The author notes the increasing number of colleges and Jesuit academies
(128 and 1680); "but", says he, "the history of Italian civilisation during the
16h and 17th centuries shows the results of it most strikingly. If a well-
learned Italy thus embraced again the faith and ordinances of the Church,
received a new zeal for asceticism and missions, composed again pious
poems and hymns for the Church, dedicated conscientiously the painters'
brushes and sculptors' chisels to exalt the religious ideal, is it not because
the cultivated classes were instructed in Jesuits' colleges and
Gone were "childish simplicity, joy, vivacity and the simple love of
The Jesuits' pupils are far too clerical, devout, absorbed to preserve
these qualities. They are taken up with ecstatic visions and illuminations;
they literally get drunk with the paintings of frightful mortifications and
the martyrs' atrocious torments; they need the pomp, glittering and
theatrical. From the end of the 16th century on, Italian art and literature
reproduce faithfully this moral transformation... The restlessness, the
ostentation, the shocking claim which characterise the creations of that
period promote a feeling of repulsion instead of sympathy for the beliefs
they are supposed to interpret and glorify".(3)
It is the mark sui generis of the Company. This love for the distorted,
finicky, glittering, theatrical could seem strange amongst mystics formed by
the "Spiritual Exercises" if we did not detect in it this essentially
(1) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p.82.
(2) and (3) Boehmer, op.cit., p.82-83.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
Jesuitical aim to impress the mind. It is an application of the maxim: "The
end justifies the means" applied with perseverance by the Jesuits in the arts,
literature as well as politics and morals.
Italy had been hardly touched by the Reformation. Nevertheless, the
Waldenses, who had survived since the middle ages in spite of persecutions
and established themselves in the north and south of the peninsula, joined the
Calvinist Church in 1532. On a report from the Jesuit Possevino, Emmanuel
Philibert of Savoy launched another bloody persecution against his
"heretic" subjects in 1561. The same thing happened in Calabria, at Casal
di San Sisto and Guardia Fiscale. "The Jesuits were implicated in these
massacres; they were busy converting the victims..."(4)
As for Father Possevino: "... he followed the Catholic army as their
chaplain, and recommended the extermination by fire of the heretic pastors as a
necessary and holy act".(5)
The Jesuits were all powerful in Parma, at the court of the Farnese, as well
as in Naples during the 16th and 17th centuries. But in Venice, where they had
been loaded with favours, they were banished on the 14th of May 1606, "as
the most faithful servants and spokesmen of the pope..."
They were nevertheless allowed to return in 1656, but their influence in the
Republic was to be from now on but a shadow of the one they had in the
Portugal was a choice country for the Order. "Already under John III
(1521-1559), it was the most powerful religious community in the
kingdom".(6) Its influence grew even more after the revolution of 1640
which put the Braganza on the throne. "Under the first king of the house of
Braganza, Father Fernandez was a member of the government and, under the
minority of Alphonse VI, the counsellor most heeded by the regent Queen
Louise. Father de Ville was successful in overthrowing Alphonse VI in 1667,
and Father Emmanuel Fernandez was made a deputy to the "Cortes" in
1667 by the new King Peter II... In spite of the fact that the Fathers were
not fulfilling any public duty in the kingdom, they were more powerful in
Portugal than in any other country. Not only were they spiritual
advisers to all the royal family, but the king and his minister consulted
them in all important circumstances. From one of their own testimonies,
we know that not one place in the administration of the State and Church
could be obtained without their consent; so much so that the clergy, the
high classes and the people contended with each other to win their favours
and approval. Foreign politics were also under their influence. Any
sensible man would see that such a state of affairs was
(4) J. Huber, op.cit., p. 165.
(5) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p.89.
(6) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.85, 86, 87, 88.
ITALY, PORTUGAL, SPAIN
unprofitable to the good of the kingdom".(7)
In fact, we can see the results by the decadent state into which this
unfortunate land fell. All the energy and perspicacity of the marquess of
Pombal, in the middle of the 18th century, were needed to tear Portugal out of
the Order's deadly grip.
In Spain, the Order's penetration was slower. The higher clergy and the
Dominicans opposed it for a long time. The sovereigns themselves, Charles V
and Philip II, while accepting their services, distrusted these soldiers of the
pope and feared encroachments on their authority. But, with much craftiness,
the Order eventually defeated this resistance. "During the 17th century, they
are all-powerful in Spain, among the high classes and at Court. Even
Father Neidhart, former German cavalry officer, fully governed the
kingdom as Counsellor of State, prime minister and Grand Inquisitor... In
Spain as in Portugal, the kingdom's ruin coincided with the rise of the
This is what Edgar Quinet had to say about it:
"Wherever a dynasty dies, I can see, rising up and standing behind her, a
kind of bad genie, one of those dark figures that are the confessors, gently
and paternally luring her towards death..."(9)
Indeed, one cannot impute Spain's decadence to this Order only.
"Nevertheless, it is true that the Company of Jesus, together with the
Church and other religious orders, hastened her fall; the richer the Order
became, the poorer Spain was, so much so that when Charles II died, the
State's coffers did not even contain the necessary amount to pay for 10,000
masses usually said for the salvation of a deceased monarch's soul."(10)
(7) and (8) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.85, 86, 87, 88.
(9) Michelet et Quinet, op.cit., p.259.
(10) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.85, 86, 87, 88.
34 Section II
"It was not southern Europe, but central Europe: France, Holland,
Germany, Poland, which were the site for that historical struggle between
Catholicism and Protestantism. So these countries were the main fields of
battle for the Society of Jesus." (11)
The situation was particularly grave in Germany. "Not only notorious
pessimists, but also thinking and wise Catholics considered the old church's
cause in all German lands as almost lost. In fact, even in Austria and
Bohemia, the break with Rome was so general that the Protestants could
reasonably hope to conquer Austria within a few decades. Then how is it this
change did not take place and the country was divided into two sections
instead? The Catholic party, at the close of the 16th century, had no
hesitation in answering this question, for it always acknowledged that the
Witelsbach, Habsburg and Jesuits were responsible for this happy turn of
Rene Fulop-Miller wrote about the Jesuits' role in these events: "The
Catholic cause could hope for a real success only if the Fathers were able to
influence and guide the princes, at all times and in all circumstances. The
confessionals offered the Jesuits the means to secure a lasting political
influence, therefore an effectual action" .(13)
In Bavaria, the young duke Albert V, son of a zealous Catholic and
educated at Ingolstadt, the old Catholic city, called on the Jesuits to
combat effectively the heresy:
"On the 7th of July 1556, 8 Fathers and 12 Jesuit teachers entered
Ingolstadt. It was the start of a new era for Bavaria... the State itself
received a new Seal.... the Roman Catholic conceptions directed the politics of
princes and the behaviour of the high classes. But this new spirit got hold
(11) and (12) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.89, 104, ,112, 114. (13) Rene
Fulop-Miller, op.cit., II, pp.98, 102.
of the higher classes only. It did not gain the hearts of ordinary people...
Nevertheless, under the iron discipline of the State and the restored Church, they
again became devout Catholics, docile, fanatic, and intolerant towards any
"It may seem excessive to attribute such prodigious virtues and actions to a mere
handful of strangers. Yet, in these circumstances, their force was in inverse ratio to
their numbers and they were immediately effective as no obstacles were met.
Loyola's emissaries won the country's heart and mind from the start... From the
next generation on, Ingolstadt became the perfect type of the german Jesuit
city".(14) One can judge the state of mind the Fathers introduced to this
stronghold of faith by reading the following:
"The Jesuit Mayrhofer of Ingolstadt taught in his "Preacher's mirror": "We will not
be judged if we demand the killing of Protestants, any more than we would by
asking for the death penalty on thieves, murderers,
counterfeiters and revolutionaries."(15)
The successors of Albert V, and especially Maximilian I (1597-1651), completed
his work. But Albert V already was conscientious in his "duty" of assuring his
"As soon as the Fathers arrived in Bavaria, his attitude towards Protestants and
those favourable to them became more severe. From 1563 on, he pitilessly
expelled all recalcitrants, and had no mercy for the anabaptists who had to suffer
drownings, fire, prison and chains, all of which were praised by the Jesuit
Agricola... In spite of all this, a whole generation of men had to disappear before
the persecution was crowned a complete success. As late as 1586, the moravian
anabaptists managed to hide 600 victims from the duke Guillaume. This one
example proves that there were thousands and not hundreds who were driven out,
an awful breach into a thinly populated country.
"But", said Albert V to the Munich City council, "God's honour and the salvation
of souls must be placed above any temporal interests". 16)
Little by little, all teaching in Bavaria was placed in the Jesuits' hands, and that
land became the base for their penetration in eastern, western and northern
"From 1585 on, the Fathers converted the part of Westphalia depending on
Cologne; in 1586, they appear in Neuss and Bonn, one of Cologne's archbishop's
residences; they open colleges at Hildesheim in 1587 and Munster in 1588. This
particular one already had 1300 pupils in 1618... A large part of western Germany
was reconquered in that way by Catholicism,
(14) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.89, 104, 112, 114. (15)
Rene Fulop-Miller, op.cit., II, pp.98, 102. (16) H.
Boehmer, op.cit., pp.89, 104, 112, 114.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
thanks to the Wittelsbach and Jesuits.
"The alliance between the Wittelsbach and Jesuits was maybe even more
important for the "Austrian lands" than for western Germany".(17)
The archduke Charles of Styrie, last son of emperor Ferdinand, married
in 1571 a Bavarian princess "who brought into Gratz castle the narrow
Catholic tendencies and the friendship for the Jesuits which prevailed at the
Court of Munich". Under her influence, Charles worked hard to "extirpate the
heresy" from his kingdom and when he died, in 1590, he made his son and
successor, Ferdinand, swear that he would go on with this work. In any case,
Ferdinand was well prepared for this. "For five years, he had been a pupil of
the Jesuits at Ingolstadt; besides, he was so narrow-minded that, to him,
there was no nobler task than the reestablishment of the Catholic Church in
his hereditary States. That this task was advantageous or not to his lands was
of no concern to Him. "I prefer", said he, "to reign over a country in ruins,
than over one which is damned". (18)
In 1617, the archduke Ferdinand was crowned king of Bohemia by the
emperor. "Influenced by his Jesuit confessor Viller, Ferdinand started at once
to combat Protestantism in his new kingdom. This signalled the start of that
bloody war of religion which, for the next thirty years, kept Europe in
suspense. When, in 1618, the unhappy events in Prague gave the signal for
open rebellion, the old emperor Mathias tried at first to compromise, but he
did not have enough power to make his intentions prevail against king
Ferdinand, who was dominated by his Jesuit confessor; so, the last hope to
settle this conflict amicably was lost". "At the same time, the lands of Bohemia
had taken special measures and solemnly decreed that all Jesuits should be
expelled, as they saw in them promoters of civil war".(19)
Soon after, Moravia and Silesie followed this example, and Protestants of
Hungary, where the Jesuit Pazmany ruled with a rod of iron, rebelled also.
But the battle of the White Mountain (1620) was won by Ferdinand, who had
been made emperor again after the death of Mathias.
"The Jesuits persuaded Ferdinand to inflict the most cruel punishment on
the rebels; Protestantism was rooted out of the whole country by means too
terrible for words... At the end of the war, the country's material ruin was
"The Jesuit Balbinus, Bohemia's historian, wondered how there could still
be some inhabitants left in that country. But moral ruin was even more
terrible... The flourishing culture found amongst the nobles and middle
classes, the rich national literature which could not be replaced: all this had been
destroyed, and even nationality had been abolished. Bohemia was
(17) and (18) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.117, 120. (19) J.
Huber, op.cit., pp. 180-183.
open to the Jesuits' activities and they burned Czech literature en-masse; under
their influence, even the name of the nation's great saint: John Huss, gradually
grew dimmer until it was extinct in the hearts of the people... "The height of the
Jesuits' power", said Tomek, "coincided with the country's greatest decadence in
her national culture; it is because of the influence that Order had, that this
unfortunate land's awakening came about one century too late..."
"When the Thirty Years War came to an end, and a peace was concluded assuring
German Protestants the same political rights enjoyed by the Catholics, the Jesuits
did their uttermost to continue the fighting; it was in vain".(20)
But they obtained from their student Leopold the First, then reigning
emperor, the promise to persecute the Protestants in his own lands, and
especially in Hungary. "Escorted by imperial dragoons, the Jesuits
undertook this work of conversion in 1671. The Hungarians rose to action and
started a war which was to last for nearly a whole generation... But that
insurrection was victoroius, under the leadership of Francis Kakoczy. The
victor wanted to drive the Jesuits out of all the countries which fell under his
power; but influencial protectors of the Order managed to adjourn these
measures, and the expulsion did not take place until 1707...
"Prince Eugene blamed, with a harsh frankness, the politics of the
imperial house and the intrigues of the Jesuits in Hungary. He wrote:
"Austria nearly lost Hungary because of their persecuting of the
Protestants". One day, he bitterly exclaimed that the morals of the Turks
were far superior to those of the Jesuits, in practice at least. "Not only do they
want to dominate consciences, but also to have the right of life and death over
"Austria and Bavaria reaped the fruits of Jesuit domination in full: the
compression of all progressive tendencies and the systematic stultification of
"The deep misery which followed the war of religion, the powerless
politics, the intellectual decadence, the moral corruption, a frightful
decrease in the population and impoverishment of the whole of Germany:
these were the results of the Order's actions".(21)
(20) Rene Fulop-Miller, op.cit., II, pp. 104-105.
(21) J. Huber, op.cit., pp.183-186.
38 Section II
It was only during the 17th century that the Jesuits succeeded in
establishing themselves successfully in Switzerland, after having been
called, then banished, by a few cities of the Confederation, during the
second half of the 16th century.
The archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromee, who had favoured their
installation at Lucerne in 1578, soon realised what the results of their
actions would be, as we are reminded by J. Huber: "Charles Borromee
wrote to his confessor that the Company of Jesus, governed by heads more
political than religious, is becoming too powerful to preserve the necessary
moderation and submission... She rules over kings and princes, and
governs temporal and spiritual affairs; the pious institution has lost the
spirit which animated her originally; we shall be compelled to abolish
At the same time in France, the famous legal expert Etienne Pasquiet
wrote: "Introduce this Order in our midst and, at the same time, you will
introduce dissension, chaos and confusion".(23)
Is it not this identical complaint heard over and over again, and in all
countries, against the Company? It was the same in Switzerland, when the
evidence of her evil deeds broke through the flattering appearances with
which she excelled in covering herself.
"Wherever the Jesuits managed to take root, they seduced great and
small, young and old. Very soon, the authorities would start consulting
them in important circumstances; their donations started flowing in, and it
was not long before they occupied all the schools, the pulpits of most
churches, the confessionals of all high ranking and influential people
(22) J. Huber op.cit., p.131.
(23) Cite by H. Fulop-Miller: "Les Jesuites et le secret de leur puissance" (Plon, Paris 1933
Confessors looking after the education of all classes of Society, counsellors and
intimate friends of members of the Council, their influence grew day after day,
and they did not wait long before exercising it in public affairs. Lucerne and
Fribourg were their main centres; from there, they conducted the exterior
politics of most Catholic cantons...
"Any plan forged in Rome, or by other foreign powers, against
Protestantism in Switzerland was assured of the Jesuits' full support...
"In 1620, they were successful in making the Catholic population of the
Veltlin rise against the Protestants and they slaughtered six hundred. The
pope gave indulgence to all those who took part in that horrible deed.
"In 1656, they kindled civil war between members of the various
confessions... Later again a new war of religion was started by the Jesuits.
"In 1712, peace was being discussed in Aarau; Lucerne and Uri had just
accepted it when the Jesuits, on an order from Rome, did all they could to
reverse things. They refused absolution to all those who would hesitate to
take up arms. They proclaimed loudly from their pulpits that one was not
obliged to keep his word, when it was given to heretics; they made moderate
councillors to suspect, tried to remove them from their posts and provoked,
in Lucerne, such a threatening uprising of the people against the
government that the supreme authority resigned herself to break the peace.
The Catholics were defeated in the fight which followed and signed an
Since that time, the Order's influence in Switzerland became smaller and
Today, article 51 of the Swiss constitution forbids the Society of Jesus to hold
any cultural or educative activity on the territory of the
Confederation, and efforts made to abolish this rule have always been
(24) J. Huber, op.cit., pp.188 ss.
40 Section II
Poland and Russia
Jesuit domination was nowhere as deadly as it was in Poland. This is
proved by H. Boehmer, a moderate historian who does not bear any
systematic hostility towards the Society.
"The Jesuits were entirely responsible for Poland's annihilation. The
accusation so worded is excessive. The decadence of the Polish State had
started before they came on the scene. But they undoubtedly hastened the
kingdom's decomposition. Of all the States, Poland, who had millions of
orthodox Christians in her midst, should have had religious tolerance as one
of the most essential principles of her interior politics. The Jesuits did not
allow that. They did worse: they put Poland's exterior politics at the service
of Catholic interests in a fatal manner".(25)
This was written at the end of the last century; it is very similar to what
Colonel Beck, former Polish Foreign-Affairs minister from 1932 to 1939
said after the 1939-1945 war:
"The Vatican is one of the main causes of the tragedy of my country. I
realised too late that we had pursued our foreign politics just to serve the
interests of the Catholic Church".(26)
So, with several centuries in-between, the same disastrous influence has
made its mark once again on that unfortunate nation.
In 1581 already, Father Possevino, pontifical legate in Moscow, has
done his best to bring together the Czar Ivan the Terrible and the Roman
Church. Ivan was not strictly against it. Full of glad hopes, Possevino made
himself, in 1584, the mediator of the peace of Kirewora Gora between
Russia and Poland, a peace which saved Ivan from inextricable difficulties
This is just what the crafty sovereign had hoped for. There was no more talk of
converting the Russians. Possevino had to leave Russia without having
(25) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p.135.
(26) Declaration of the 6th of February 1940.
POLAND AND RUSSIA
obtained anything. Two years later, an even better opportunity offered itself
to the Fathers to get a hold on Russia: Grischka Ostrepjew, an unfrocked
monk, revealed to a Jesuit that he actually was Dimitri, son of Czar Ivan,
who had been assassinated; he declared himself ready to subdue Moscow for
Rome if he was master of the Czars' throne. Without thinking it over first, the
Jesuits took it into their hands to introduce Ostrepjew to the Palatine of
Sandomir who gave him his daughter in marriage; they spoke on his behalf
to King Sigismond III and the pope regarding his expectations, and
succeeded in making the Polish army rise against the Czar Boris
Godounov. As a reward for these services, the false Dimitri renounced the
religion of his fathers at Crascovie, one of the Jesuits' houses, and
promised the Order an establishment in Moscow, near the Kremlin, after his
victory over Boris.
"But it was these favours from the catholics which unleashed the hatred of
the Russian Orthodox Church against Dimitri. On the 27th of May 1606,
he was massacred with several hundred Polish followers. Until then, one could
hardly speak of a Russian national sentiment; but now, this feeling was
very strong and took immediately the form of a fanatical hatred for the Roman
Church and Poland.
"The alliance with Austria and the offensive politics of Sigismond III
against the Turks, all of which were strongly encouraged by the Order, were just
as disastrous for Poland. To put it briefly, no other State suffered as much as
Poland did under the Jesuits' domination. And in no other country, apart
from Portugal, was the Society so powerful. Not only did Poland have a
'king of the Jesuits', but also a Jesuit King, Jean-Casimir, a sovereign who had
belonged to the Order before his accession to the throne in 1649...
"While Poland was heading fast towards ruin, the number of Jesuit
establishments and schools was growing so fast that the General made
Poland into a special congregation in 1751 ".(27)
(27) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p.135 ss.
42 Section II
Sweden and England
"In the Scandinavian countries", wrote Mr. Pierre Dominique,
"Lutheranism submerged everything else and, when the Jesuits made their
counter-attack, they did not find what was found in Germany: a Catholic
party already in the minority, but still strong".(28)
Their only hope then was in the conversion of the sovereign who was
secretly in favour of Catholicism; also, this king, Jean III Wasa, had
married in 1568 a Polish princess, Catherine, a Roman Catholic. In 1574,
Father Nicolai and other Jesuits were brought to the recently established
school of theology where they became fervent Roman proselytizers, while
officially assuming Lutheranism. Then, the clever negotiator Possevino
secured the conversion of Jean III and the care of educating his son
Sigismond, the future Sigismond III, king of Poland. When the time came to
submit Sweden to the Holy See, the king's conditions: marriage of priests,
use of the vernacular in services and communion in both kinds, all of which
had been rejected by the Roman Curia, brought the negotiations to a dead
end. In any case, the king, who had lost his first wife, had remarried a
Swedish Lutheran. The Jesuits had to leave the country.
"Fifty years later, the Order won another great victory in Sweden. Queen
Christine, daughter of Gustave-Adolphe, the last of the Wasas, was
converted under the teaching of two Jesuit professors, who had managed to
reach Stockholm pretending to be travelling Italian noblemen. But, in order
to change her religion without conflicts, she had to abdicate on the 24th of
In England, on the other hand, the situation seemed more faviourable to the
Society and it could hope, for a while at least, to bring this country back under
the Holy See's jurisdiction.
(28) Pierre Dominique, op.cit, p.76.
(29) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.137, 138, 139.
SWEDEN AND ENGLAND
"When Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558, Ireland was still entirely
Catholic and England 50 per cent so... In 1542 already, Salmeron and Broet had
been sent by the pope to survey Ireland".(30)
Seminaries had been created under the Jesuits' direction in Douai, Pont-a-
Mousson and Rome, with a view to train English, Irish and Scottish
missionaries. In agreement with Philip II of Spain, the Roman Curia
worked at overthrowing Elizabeth in favour of the Catholic Mary Stuart. An
Irish uprising, provoked by Rome, had been crushed. But the Jesuits, who
had arrived in England in 1580, took part in a large Catholic assembly at
"Then, under diverse disguises, they spread from county to county, from
country house to castle. In the evening, they would hear confession; in the
morning, they would preach and give communion, then they would
disappear as mysteriously as they had arrived. For, from the 15th of July,
Elizabeth had proscribed them".(31)
They printed and distributed secretly virulent pamphlets against the
Queen and the Anglican Church. One of them, Father Campion, was
caught, condemned for high treason and hanged. They also plotted at
Edinburgh to win to their cause King James of Scotland. The result of all
these disturbances was the execution of Mary Stuart in 1587.
Then came the Spanish expedition, the invincible Armada, which made
England tremble for a while and brought about the "sacred union" around
Elizabeth's throne. But the Company pursued none the less her projects and
was training English priests at Valladolid, Seville, Madrid and Lisbon, while
her secret propaganda continued in England under the direction of Father
Garnett. After the Gunpowder Plot against James I, successor of Elizabeth,
this Father Garnett was condemned for complicity and hanged, like Father
Under Charles I, then in Cromwell's Commonwealth, other Jesuits paid for
their intrigues with their lives. The Order thought it would triumph under
Charles II who, together with Louis XIV, had concluded a secret treaty at
Dover, pledging to restore Catholicism in the land.
"The nation was not fully informed of these circumstances, but the little that
transpired was enough to create an unbelievable agitation. All
England shuddered before Loyola's spectre and the Jesuits'
A meeting of them in the palace itself brought popular fury to a head.
"Charles II, who enjoyed the life of a king and did not want to go on
another 'journey across the seas', hanged five Fathers for high treason at
(30) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.137-139.
(31) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.140-142.
(32) H. Boehmer, op.cit., pp.140, 142.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
Tyburn... This did not abate the Jesuits.. However, Charles II was too
prudent and too cynical for their liking, always ready to drop them. They
thought victory was in sight when James II acceded to the throne. In fact, the
king took up Mary Tudor's old game, but used softer means. He pretended
to convert England and established for the Jesuits, at the palace of Savoy, a
college where four hundred students immediately took residence. A
downright camarilla of Jesuits took over the Palace...
"All these combinations were the main cause for the 1688 revolution. The
Jesuits had to go against a stream too powerful. Then, England had twenty
Protestants for each Catholic. The king was overthrown; all the members of
the Company put in prison or banished. For some time, the Jesuits
recommenced their work of secret agents, but it was nothing more than a
futile agitation. They had lost the cause".(33)
(33) Pierre Dominique, op.cit, pp.101, 102.
In 1551, the Order started to establish itself in France, which was
seventeen years after its foundation in the chapel Saint-Denis at
Indeed, they presented themselves as effective adversaries of the
Reformation which had won about one seventh of the French population,
but people mistrusted these soldiers too devoted to the Holy See. So, their
penetration on French soil was slow at first. As in all other countries where
general opinion was not in their favour, they insinuated themselves first
amongst people at Court, then, through them, into the upper classes. But in
Paris, the Parliament, the University and even the clergy remained hostile.
It came out clearly when they first attempted to open a college there.
"The Faculty of Theology, whose mission is to safeguard the principles of
religion in France, decreed on the 1 st of December 1554, that 'this society
appears to be extremely dangerous regarding the faith, she is an enemy of the
Church's peace, fatal to the monastic state and seems to have been born
to bring ruin rather than edification' ".(34)
The Fathers were nevertheless allowed to settle at Billom, in a corner of
Auvergne. From there, they organised a great action against the
Reformation in the provinces of southern France. The famous Lainez, the man
at the Council of Trent, distinguished himself in polemics, especially at the
Colloquy of Poissy, in an unhappy attempt to conciliate the two doctrines
Thanks to the Queen-Mother Catherine of Medici, the Order opened its
first Parisian establishment, the College of Clermont, which was in
competition with the University. The opposition from this university, the
clergy and the parliament was more or less pacified with concessions,
verbal at least, made by the Company who promised to conform to the
(34) Gaston Bally, op.cit., p.69.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
common right; but the University had fought hard and long against the
introduction of "men bribed at the expense of France to arm themselves
against the King", according to Etienne Pasquier, and whose words were
proved right not long after.
There is no need to ask if the Jesuits "consented" to the Saint
Bartholomew Massacre (1572). Did they "prepare" it? Who knows?... The
Company's politics, subtle and supple in their proceedings, have very clear
aims; it is the popes' politics: "destray heresy". Everything must be
subordinated to this major aim. "Catherine of Medici worked towards this aim
and the Company could count on the Guises".(35)
But this major design, helped so much by that massacre on the night of the
24th of August 1572, provoked a terrible blaze of fratricidal hatred.
Three years later, it was the League, after the assassination of the duke de
Guise, nicknamed "the king of Paris", and the appeal to His Most Christian
Majesty to fight the Protestants.
"The shrewd Henry III did his best to avoid a war of religion. In
agreement with Henry of Navarre, they gathered the Protestants and most of
the moderate Catholics against Paris, the League and these partisans, mad
Romans backed by Spain...
"The Jesuits, powerful in Paris, protested that the king of France had
surrendered to heresy... The directing committee of the League deliberated at
the Jesuits' house in the Street Saint-Antoine. Was Spain holding Paris?
Hardly. The League? The League was only an instrument in skilful hands...
"This Company of Jesus who had been fighting in the name of Rome for
thirty years now... This was Paris's secret master".
"So, Henry III was assassinated. As the heir was a Protestant, the
murder seemed at first glance to have been for other than political reasons; but
is it not possible that those who planned it and persuaded the Jacobin
Clement to carry it out were hoping for an uprising of Catholic France
against the Huguenot heir? The fact is that a little later Clement was called an
"angel" by the Jesuit Camelet, and Guignard, another Jesuit who was
eventually hanged, gave his students as a means of moulding their opinions
tyrannicidal texts as subjects for their latin exercises".(36)
Amongst other things, these school exercises contained this: "Jacques
Clement has done a meritorious act inspired by the Holy Spirit... If we can
make war against the king, then let us do it; if we cannot make war against
him, then let us put him to death..." And this: "We made a big mistake at the
Saint-Bartholomew; we should have bled the royal vein".(37)
In 1592, a certain Barriere who tried to assassinate Henry IV confessed that
Father Varade, rector of the Jesuits in Paris, had persuaded him to do
(35) Pierre Dominique, op.cit., p.84.
(36) and (37) Pierre Dominique, op.cit., pp.85, 86, 89.
it. In 1594, another attempt was made by Jean Chatel, former pupil of the Jesuits
who had heard his confession just before carrying it out. It was on that occasion
that the previously mentioned school exercises were seized at the house of Father
Guignard. "The Father was hanged at Greve while the king confirmed an edict of
Parliament banishing the sons of Loyola from the kingdom, as "corrupters of
youth, disturbers of public peace and enemies of the State and crown of France...".
The edict was not carried out fully and, in 1603, it was revoked by the
king against the advice of Parliament. Aquaviva, the general of the Jesuits,
had been clever in his manoeuvres and led king Henry IV to believe that the
Order, reestablished in France, would loyally serve national interests. How
could he, subtle as he was, believe that these fanatical Romans would
indeed accept the Edict of Nantes (1498) which determined the rights of
Protestants in France, and, even worse, they would back up his projects
against Spain and the Emperor? The fact is, Henry IV chose as his
confessor and tutor for the Dauphin one of the most distinguished
members of the Company, Father Cotton (38a). On the 16th of May 1610,
on the eve of his campaign against Austria, he was murdered by Ravaillac
who confessed having been inspired by the writings of Fathers Mariana
and Suarez. These two sanctioned the murders of heretic "tyrants" or those
insufficiently devoted to the papacy's interests. The duke of Epernon, who
made the king read a letter while the assassin was lying in wait, was a
notorious friend of the Jesuits, and Michelet proved that they knew of this
attempt. "In fact, Ravaillac had confessed to the Jesuit Father d'Aubigny
just before and, when the judges interrogated the priest, he merely replied
that God had given him the gift to forget immediately what he heard in the
Parliament, persuaded that Ravaillac had only been a tool for the Company,
ordered the executioner to burn Mariana's book.
"Fortunately, Aquaviva was still there. Once again, this great general schemed
well; he condemned most severely the legitimacy of tyrannicide. The Company
always had authors who, in the silence of their studies, exposed the doctrine in all
its rectitude; she also possessed great politicians who, when necessary, would put
the right masks on it".(39)
Thanks to Father Cotton who took the situation in hand, the Society of Jesus came
out of the storm unscathed. Her wealth, the number of her
establishments and adherents grew rapidly. But when Louis XIII came to the
throne, and Richelieu took the affairs of State in hand, there was a clash of wills.
The Cardinal would not let anyone oppose his politics. The Jesuit
(38a) His adversaries used to say that he had "cotton" in his ears! (38)
Henri Fulop-Miller, op.cit., p. 113. (39) Pierre Dominique, op.cit., p.95.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JESUITS
Caussin, confessor of the king, was able to find that out when he was put in
prison at Rennes, on Richelieu's order, as a State criminal. This act
produced the best results. In order to stay in France, the Order went as far as
collaborating with the redoubtable Minister.
H. Boehmer wrote this about it: "The lack of consideration for the Church
always shown by the French government, since Philippe le Bel, in the conflicts
between national and ecclesiastic interests had been, once again, the best
The accession of Louis XIV marked the start of the most prosperous time
for the Order. The "laxism" of Jesuit confessors, this clever leniency they used
to attract sinners not very anxious to make penance, was employed
extensively amongst ordinary people as well as at Court, especially with the
king who was more a ladies' man than devout.
His Majesty had no intention of renouncing his amorous affairs, and his
confessor was careful to keep off the subject, in spite of it being plain
adultery. So, all the royal family was soon provided with Jesuit confessors
only, and their influence grew more and more amongst the high society. The
priests of Paris attacked in their "Writings" the loose morals of the famous
Company's casuists, but to no avail. Pascal himself intervened, in vain, in
favour of the Jansenists, during the great theological quarrel of that time; in his
"Provincial letters", he exposed their too worldly opponents, the Jesuits, to
In spite of it, the secure place they held at Court assured them of victory, and
those of Port-Royal succumbed. The Order was to win another great victory
for Rome, whose consequences were against national interests. It goes
without saying that they had only unwillingly accepted the religious peace
assured through the Edict of Nantes, and had continued a secret war against the
French Protestants. As Louis XIV was getting older, he turned more and more
to bigotry under the influence of Madame de Maintenon and Father La
Chaise, his confessor. In 1681, they persuaded him to restart the persecution
against the Protestants. Finally, on the 17th of October 1685, he signed the
"Revocation of the Edict of Nantes", making those of his subjects who
refused to embrace the Catholic religion outlaws. Soon after, to accelerate
the conversions, those famous "dragonnade" started; that sinister name
became part of all subsequent attempts to proselytize by fire and chains.
While the fanatics cheered, the Protestants fled from the kingdom en-masse.
According to Marshal Vauban, France lost in that way 400,000 inhabitants
and 60 million francs. Manufacturers, merchants, shipowners, skilful
artisans went to other countries and brought them the benefit of their
"17th of October 1685 was a day of victory for the Jesuits, the final
(40) H. Boehmer, op.cit., p. 100.
reward for a war which had gone on for one hundred and twenty-five years
without respite. But the State paid the cost of the Jesuits' victory. "The
depopulation, the reduction of national prosperity were the acute material
consequences of their triumph, followed by a spiritual
impoverishment which could not be cured, even by the best Jesuit school. This
what France suffered and the Society of Jesus had to pay for very dearly
During the century following, the sons of Loyola saw, not only France,
but all the european countries reject them from their midst—but, once
again, it was only for a while; these fanatical janissaries of the papacy had
not finished to accumulate ruins in the pursuit of their impossible dream.