The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present

John W. O’Malley. Rowman & Littlefield, $22 (148p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3475-8
Perhaps no organization within the Catholic Church has been both reviled and admired as much as the Society of Jesus, whose members are known as Jesuits. O’Malley (What Happened at Vatican II), a Jesuit priest and professor of theology at Georgetown University, is a masterful historical scholar and he knows how to tell a lively story. He divides the history into four periods, including the founding of the order; its early years; its suppression, when it was disbanded for over 70 years; and the modern and postmodern eras. The founding of Jesuit schools is an especially fascinating topic, as the establishment of educational institutions was not an original intention of Society founder Ignatius Loyola. Yet it is now what Jesuits are primarily known for worldwide. Another intriguing historical episode is the Chinese rites controversy, which pitted the Jesuits against the Dominicans in a battle over missionary tactics abroad. The Jesuits certainly made their share of enemies over the past five centuries, some of whom tried to wipe the organization out of existence. O’Malley’s book would make an excellent introductory text for anyone interested in the history of the Society of Jesus, the Catholic religious order that nurtured Pope Francis I and thousands of other great men. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
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