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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues on the basis of textual evidence and hagiographical literature that the foundation of the Society of Jesus was a complex interweaving of narratives, and of both individual and group actions. A blurred “family portrait” of the founding fathers, an open question of spiritual (and institutional) inheritance, and the genius of Ignatius of Loyola’s refusal to sign his own auto/biography are some of the innovations built into the Society of Jesus in its forming moments, compared to medieval monastic orders. The chapter argues that a certain interior institutional instability, continuously remedied by spiritual writing and by the production of the self-defining texts (from Constitutions to global network of correspondence), and the decision to espouse geographical dispersion and linguistic diversity, accounts for the global success of the Society of Jesus in the early modern period.

Keywords: Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, Jerónimo Nadal, Juan Polanco, Montmartre oath, foundation, Pedro de Ribadeneira, Constitutions, Spiritual Exercises

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