Jesus, Society of

Introduction

Jesus, Society of, religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. Its members are called Jesuits. St. Ignatius of Loyola, its founder, named it Compañia de Jesús [Span., = (military) company of Jesus]; in Latin it is Societas Jesu (abbr. S.J.). Today the society numbers about 19,000 members; in the United States, where there were approximately 2,900 Jesuits in 2007, there are many Jesuit schools and colleges (e.g., Georgetown, Fordham, and St. Louis universities).

Among the great organizers and theologians of the order are St. Francis Borgia, Claudio Aquaviva, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Luis Molina, and Francisco Suárez. The order has a tradition of learning and science; e.g., the Bollandists are Jesuits, and Jesuits have made a specialty of the study of earthquakes. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is perhaps the most famous Jesuit scientist. The society is also noted for its foreign missionary work.

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