Through their history, members of the Society of Jesus have always been conscious of the fact that their apostolate may cost them their lives. So in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, missionaries from Spain and France were martyred by Native Americans—referred to as “savages.” But in the years leading up to 1773 in Europe and finally in the colonies, the Jesuits experienced another kind of death, the suppression of the Society, first by the kings of Europe and finally by the pope. At the time nearly all the Catholic priests in British North America were the twenty Jesuits in Maryland who banded together legally as the Gentlemen of Maryland to maintain their properties, mainly plantations, and under the leadership of John Carroll, the first American bishop, continue their work, including founding Georgetown University. All the while they were adapting to the democratic principles and culture that distinguished the American way of life. Nevertheless the wound did not heal quickly, and, according to historian Jean Lacouture, it took several generations for the “great adventure” of Vatican II to rescue the Society of Jesus from its “nineteenth century spinelessness.”


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pp. 51-66
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