The largest single religious order, it is characterized by a highly disciplined organization, especially devoted to the pope and ruled by its general, who lives in Rome. Jesuits have no choral office; like the secular clergy they are under obligation to individually recite the divine office each day. They have no distinctive habit. In principle they may accept no ecclesiastical office or honor, but members of the order have on occasion been named bishops or cardinals; Francis was the first Jesuit to have been elected pope.
Jesuit training is famous and may last for more than 15 years. The novice spends two years in spiritual training, after which he takes the simple vows of the regulars—chastity, poverty, and obedience. Then as a scholastic he spends 13 years and sometimes longer in study and teaching, completed by an additional year of spiritual training. Toward the end of this period he is ordained and becomes a coadjutor. He may then take a fourth vow of special obedience to the pope and become professed.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.