Tag Archives: Jesuit saints and blesseds

Saints Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell, and companions

Edmund CampionToday, particularly on the Jesuit ordo, is the Feast of Saints Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, and the English Jesuit martyrs. These men of God were tortured and executed for their faith in Jesus Christ and their adherence to the authority of the Roman Pontiff in Elizabethan England.

One of the famous texts from this era is  “Campion’s Brag,” Saint Edmund’s clear and undisputed defense of the Catholic faith.

Through the intercession let us pray for the Catholic Church in the UK, and in the USA.


“The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood.”

To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty’s Privy Council:

Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.

Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.

i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.

ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.

iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.

iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.

v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.

vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man’s foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.

vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.

viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness’ Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.

(Icon by William Hart McNichols, enthroned outside the St. Edmund Campion Chapel in America House, New York.)

Saint Peter Claver

St Peter ClaverToday is the feast of St. Peter Claver.

“We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

St. Peter Claver, pray for us.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius at ManresaThe Church liturgically recalls for us one of the Master’s of the spiritual life, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The Pilgrim died in 1556 and was the author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus.

It may be a little early to speak of a commemoration for the 500th anniversary of the Spiritual Exercises, but it may be good to keep this anniversary in mind. 2022 is the year when we will study and live the foundational experiences of Ignatius in Manresa. This picture shows Ignatius in awe in meeting the Lord as he writes his religious experience that gave rise to him following his vocation with prayerful  intensity. Do we have a similar conviction as Ignatius?

This 2008 animation of an Olive, gives a sense of the life Saint Ignatius of Loyola, written, produced and narrated by Jason Kapell of the Fairfield University Media Center. It is nicely done –remember it is short and sweet with a Spanish Olive narrating.

3 new saints from the Americas

This morning we have three new saints! His Holiness canonized three new patrons, to pray for us in heaven. Actually, God makes saints, the Church discerns who the saints are. All three have strong connections to the Americas: Canada and Brazil.

St José de AnchietaSaint José de Anchieta is the newest Jesuit saint. The saint died in 1597. De Anchieta is known as the “Apostle of Brazil” and “Father of Brazilian Literature,” a person in Brazil’s history. Writing to the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás, superior general, said:

The Society must not refuse this invitation offered to present anew this versatile figure who is inspiring and extremely relevant to this day. What does the Lord want to say to us in giving us the gift, in less than a year, of Church recognition of the evangelical value of the lives of our two companions, Peter Faber and José de Anchieta? These are two men who accomplished missions so different and yet so similar in the Jesuit spirit that should animate our mission. Both, with the passion of their lives, invite us to discover that the “restoration,” more than being a mere historical event for us, ought to manifest the ever present “mode of being” of an apostolic body in continuous re-creation.

José de Anchieta, “of medium height, lean, with a strong and decisive spirit, bronzed features, bluish eyes, ample forehead, large nose, thin beard, and with a happy and friendly face,” spent 44 years of his life traversing a good part of the geography of Brazil and carrying the good news of the Gospel to the native peoples.

Read Father Adolfo Nicolás’ whole letter here.

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation (Marie of the Incarnation) is an amazing Ursuline sister who founded the first Ursuline convent in Canada, founded Canada’s first school and is called “Mother of Canada.” The biography of Saint Marie is written by the Ursulines.

Saint François de Laval, was the first bishop of Québec. You can read about him at Center Francois de Laval.

In literature Saints Marie of the Incarnation and François de Laval are found in Willa Cather’s 1931 novel of early Quebec, Shadows on the Rock.

May our three new heavenly companions to show us by their example how to love God in a particular way.

Holy Name of Jesus with Pope Francis

IHS at the GesuThe Mass for the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast day for the Society of Jesus, was offered today by Pope Francis in the Church of Jesus. Today the Church reminds us “to let the center of … [our] heart be occupied by Christ.”

Gathering for prayer was an opportunity for the Holy Father to gather with his religious community in Rome to give God thanks for the many blessings received, and to give thanks for the new Jesuit saint Peter Faber (Pierre Favre). Several bishops and priests concelebrated the Mass: Cardinal Angelo Amato (Saints); Cardinal Agostino Vallini (vicar general of Rome); Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ (CDF secretary); Bishop Yves Boivineau of Annecy, France, in whose diocese Faber was born, and the vicar general Father Alain Fournier-Bidoz; and the Jesuit superior general Father Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, with seven younger Jesuit priests.

Peter Faber was canonized and thereby added to the long list of Jesuit saints by Pope Francis on 17 December 2013. Faber was the first companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the first priest of the Society and is known as “the second Jesuit.” Faber is also known for his competency in giving the Spiritual Exercises. The tombs of Saint Ignatius and Saint Peter Faber are located in the Church of Jesus. This is the second time since being elected the bishop of Rome that Francis has offered Mass with the Jesuits at the Jesus Church.

In his homily Francis said,

We heard Saint Paul tell us: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7). We, Jesuits, want to be conferred the name of Jesus, militate under the standard of his Cross, and this means: to have the same sentiments of Christ. It means to think like Him, love like Him, see like Him, walk like Him. It means to do what He did and with his same sentiments, with the sentiments of his Heart.

The heart of Christ is the heart of a God who, out of love, “emptied” himself. Every one of us Jesuits who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself. We are called to this abasement: to be of the “emptied.” To be men that do not live centered on themselves because the center of the Society is Christ and his Church. And God is the Deus semper maior, the God who always surprises us. And if the God of surprises is not at the center, the Society becomes disoriented. Because of this, to be a Jesuit means to be a person of incomplete thought, of open thought: because one always thinks looking at the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us. And this is the restlessness of our void, this holy and beautiful restlessness!

However, because we are sinners, we can ask ourselves if our heart has kept the restlessness of the search or if, instead, it has atrophied; if our heart is always in tension: a heart that does not settle down, a heart that does not shut itself in on itself, but which beats the rhythm of a journey to undertake together with all the faithful people of God. It is necessary to seek God to find Him, and to find him in order to seek Him again and forever. Only this restlessness gives peace to the heart of a Jesuit, a restlessness that is also apostolic, which must not make us grow tired of proclaiming the Kerygma, of evangelizing with courage. It is the restlessness that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without restlessness we are sterile.

This is the restlessness that Peter Favre [Faber] had, man of great desires, another Daniel. Favre was a “modest, sensible man of profound interior life and gifted with the gift of close relations of friendship with persons of all sorts” (Benedict XVI, Address to Jesuits, April 22, 2006). However, he was also a restless, uncertain and never satisfied spirit. Under the guidance of Saint Ignatius he learned to unite his restless but also gentle — I would say exquisite –, sensibility with the capacity to take decisions. He was a man of great desires; he took charge of his desires, he acknowledged them. In fact for Favre, it was precisely when difficult things were proposed that his true spirit was manifested which moved him to action (cf. Memoriale, 301). Authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we should ask ourselves: do we also have great visions and dash? Are we also daring? Does our dream fly high? Does zeal devour us (cf. Psalm 69:10)? Or are we mediocre and content with our laboratory apostolic programs? Let us remember always: the strength of the Church does not lie in herself and in her organizational capacity, but is hidden in the profound waters of God. And these waters agitate our desires and desires enlarge the heart. It is what Saint Augustine says: pray to desire and desire to enlarge the heart. In fact it was in his desires that Favre could discern God’s voice. Without desires one goes nowhere and it is because of this that we must offer our desires to the Lord. Stated in the Constitutions is that “one’s neighbor his helped with desires presented to God our Lord” (Constitutions, 638).

Favre had the real and profound desire to “be dilated in God”: he was completely centered on God, and because of this he could go, in the spirit of obedience, often also on foot, everywhere in Europe to speak to all with gentleness, and to proclaim the Gospel. The thought comes to me of the temptation, which perhaps we might have and that so many have, of connecting the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial blows of condemnation. No, the Gospel is proclaimed with gentleness, with fraternity, with love. Favre’s familiarity with God led him to understand that interior experience and apostolic life always go together. In his Memoriale he wrote that the first movement of the heart must be that ofdesiring what is essential and original, that is, that the first place be left to the perfect solicitude of finding God our Lord” (Memoriale, 63). Favre demonstrates the desire “to let Christ occupy the center of the heart” (Memoriale, 68). Only if one is centered on God is it possible to go to the fringes of the world! And Favre traveled ceaselessly also on the geographic frontiers, so much so that it was said of him: “It seems that he was born not to stay put in any place” (MI, Epistolae I, 362). Favre was devoured by the intense desire to communicate the Lord. If we do not have his same desire, then we need to pause in prayer and, with silent fervor, ask the Lord, through the intercession of our brother Peter, that he fascinate us again: that fascination of the Lord that led Peter to all his apostolic “lunacies.”

We are men in tension; we are also contradictory and inconsistent men, sinners, all. But men who want to walk under the gaze of Jesus. We are little, we are sinners, but we want to militate under the standard of the Cross of the Society conferred with the name of Jesus. We who are egoistic want, however, to live an agitated life of great desires. We renew now our oblation to the Eternal Lord of the universe so that with the help of his glorious Mother we may want, desire and live the sentiments of Christ who emptied himself. As Saint Peter Favre wrote, “We never seek in this life a name that is not connected with that of Jesus” (Memoriale, 205). And we pray to Our Lady to be messengers with her Son.

A Vatican Radio report can be heard here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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