Pastoral Notes, 26th July 2015

Our present Holy Father is unique in the history of the Church in many ways – the first Pope from South America, the first to be called ‘Francis’ (after St Francis of Assisi) – and the first to have been a priest from the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. This coming Friday is the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, born 1491 in Northern Spain. Many Jesuit missionaries went from Europe to South America, some outstanding in trying to defend the local population from predatory colonists, but without long-term success. The church of St Sabina in Rome has a plaque commemorating the vows made there by the first little group (six?) of the Society of Jesus, which included the future St Francis Xavier who preached in India and Japan and died on an island just off the coast of China. Many of the English martyrs of the Reformation were Jesuits, including St Nicholas Owen, a Jesuit laybrother. Fr Ignatius Spencer (1799-1865) a Passionist Priest and convert, of the famous Northamptonshire Spencer family, took St Ignatius’s name as a priest – his cause for sainthood was something close to Sister Liz’s heart.