The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".
The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General. The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.
In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the name Pope Francis.
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