Saint Louis University - A Tradition of Jesuit Education
The Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, was founded in 1540 by a small group of alumni from the University of Paris. They were ten in number, all Roman Catholic priests with excellent education and university degrees; and their leader was a Basque named Ignatius of Loyola.
Ignatius Loyola's Life
- Born in 1491 as Inigo de Loyola into the Basque noble family of Loyola.
- Became an officer in the service of the Spanish King.
- Wounded in battle at age 30. His leg was shattered by a cannonball.
- During his year long recuperation he began his spiritual journey.
- Compiled a set of directives and meditations ("Spiritual Exercises") to help others experience a journey similar to his own.
- At age 33, he began to undertake formal studies culminating in 1535 with a Master of Arts degree from the University of Paris. There he gathered a group of companions into a group committed to a shared vision and mission for service.
- In 1540, Pope Paul III recognized this group as a religious order under the name of the Society of Jesus.
- Their original objective was to go to Jerusalem, which proved impossible because of the warfare in the region.
- Unable to journey to Jerusalem, they placed themselves at the service of the universal church through the Pope.
- From 1540, until his death in 1556, Ignatius was directing a worldwide network of more than 1,000 Jesuits working in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
- Today there are about 665 Jesuit educational institutions throughout the world. Of these 177 are higher education institutions, including universities, colleges, and faculties of advanced studies in philosophy and theology.