Cover image for The Jesuits : a history from Ignatius to the present
The Jesuits : a history from Ignatius to the present
O'Malley, John W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Physical Description:
x, 139 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Chronicles the history of the Jesuit order from the time of Ignatius of Loyola to the present Pope Francis.
General Note:
"A Sheed & Ward Book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX3706.3 .O425 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BX3706.3 .O425 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



As Pope Francis continues to make his mark on the church, there is increased interest in his Jesuit background--what is the Society of Jesus, how is it different from other religious orders, and how has it shaped the world? In The Jesuits, acclaimed historian John W. O'Malley, SJ, provides essential historical background from the founder Ignatius of Loyola through the present. The book tells the story of the Jesuits' great successes as missionaries, educators, scientists, cartographers, polemicists, theologians, poets, patrons of the arts, and confessors to kings. It tells the story of their failures and of the calamity that struck them in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV suppressed them worldwide. It tells how a subsequent pope restored them to life and how they have fared to this day in virtually every country in the world. Along the way it introduces readers to key figures in Jesuit history, such as Matteo Ricci and Pedro Arrupe, and important Jesuit writings, such as the Spiritual Exercises. Concise and compelling, The Jesuits is an accessible introduction for anyone interested in world or church history. In addition to the narrative, the book provides a timeline, a list of significant figures, photos of important figures and locations, recommendations for additional reading, and more.

Author Notes

John W. O'Malley, SJ, is a Roman Catholic priest and professor in the department of theology at Georgetown University. He is the author of a number of books, including A History of the Popes, The First Jesuits, and What Happened at Vatican II. He holds the Johannes Quasten Medal from The Catholic University of America for distinguished achievement in religious studies, and he has won numerous other awards, including best book and lifetime achievement. He is past president of the American Catholic Historical Association and the Renaissance Society of America.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

With the first-ever election of a Jesuit as pope, this most controversial of Roman Catholic orders has once again arrived center stage. Since Ignatius Loyola instituted the Society of Jesus in the sixteenth century, the Jesuits have provoked both awe and anger from both church hierarchy and secular governments. Ostensibly dedicated to the pope, the Jesuits have found themselves alternately embraced and banned by Rome. Some kings tossed Jesuits into prison and purged them from their realms, while others, notably Russia's Catherine the Great, embraced them. Himself a member of the order, O'Malley emphasizes the Jesuits' commitment to education as central to their long-term success. They started schools and universities throughout their mission fields, often inaugurating Western-style higher education in countries such as India, China, and Japan. O'Malley's brief history records events, but the book's terse, just-the-facts approach may leave critical readers hungry for deeper insights and answers.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. OMalley (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. OMalleys 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

O'Malley (theology, Georgetown Univ.; The First Jesuits), has again written a lively and accessible historical introduction to the Society of Jesus. This slight volume serves to whet the appetite, highlighting the general arc of the organization from its founding to today. The book's four chapters trace the founding, growth, suppression, and resurgence of the order. Underpinning this broad historical sweep is the author's argument that the society is primarily a missionary order, out of which arose its distinct vocation of secular engagement. Although it is clear that O'Malley is proud of his society, this work should not be seen as an apology of the Jesuits. While not delving too deeply into the most common criticisms, he acknowledges them and invites the readers to pursue them. If anything, this account is too brief, with the 19th century and the 20th century before Vatican II something of blur. More disappointing is that while the author provides extensive coverage of the Jesuits' response to Vatican II, there is nothing on their contribution to it. VERDICT Despite the shortcomings mentioned, this is a timely and generally approachable introduction, especially given the election of the first Jesuit to be elected Pope.-James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This book provides readers with an accessible and concise history of the Jesuit religious order. O'Malley (Georgetown Univ.) seeks to remove the mystery surrounding the Jesuits by making a complex and difficult history approachable and comprehensible for general readers. Often misunderstood and feared throughout history, the Jesuits have had an important religious and educational role spanning centuries and cultures. Accordingly, the author describes the impact Jesuits have had both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church. As educators, missionaries, and scholars, the Jesuits have sought to reach every aspect of society. Though concise in his recounting, O'Malley covers every aspect of Jesuit history, from the order's founding to the modern age. Quality and depth are not sacrificed for brevity, never leaving one feeling as if something were missing. For those wishing to know more about the subject, O'Malley includes a helpful bibliography for further reading. This work is a clear, easy-to-read text appropriate for both students and general readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. --Jonathan L. Best, St. Thomas University

Table of Contents

Important Dates in the History of the Society of Jesusp. vii
Prefacep. ix
1 Foundationsp. 1
2 The First Hundred Yeanp. 27
3 Consolidation, Controversy, Calamityp. 55
4 The Modern and Postmodern Erap. 83
Epilogue: Looking Back and Looking Aheadp. 113
Further Readingp. 119
Notesp. 127
Indexp. 129
About the Authorp. 139