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St. José Maria Pigattelli, SJ

15 November 2013 Comments Open

St. José Maria Pigattelli, SJThere are any number of very good books and essays chronicling the suppression of the Jesuits, in the years immediately before the American and French revolutions. Politics, economics, intrigue. Likewise, there is a great deal to read about the restoration of the Society of Jesus in 1814, immediately after Pope Pius VII was released from Napoleon’s six year confinement.

During the years in-between, Jesuits lived as exiles from their countries and their communities.

Fleeing the Province of Aragón, thirty-year-old José took responsibility for 500 Jesuits traveling first to Corsica and then to Genoa and finally on to Bologna. He would eventually establish a Jesuit novitiate to keep alive the giving of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the handing on of the Constitutions of the Society.

Shifting politics and allegences would see the Society – never fully suppressed in Russia – reestablished piecemeal throughout Italy, first in Duchy of Parma. But when the French invaded Parma the Jesuits were again forced out. José traveled to Naples and once again kept the traditions alive. When Napoleon’s brother took over the Kingdom of Naples, José was forced to move again, this time establishing a novitiate in Orvieto, some 75 miles north of Rome.

It should not be surprizing that José developed stomach ulcers during his 40 years of exile. He would not live to see the full restoration of the Jesuits, dying two years before Pius VII issued the bull that would restore the Society of Jesus, Sollicidtudo omnium ecclesiarum – the care of all churches.

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