01 August 2017

The Jesuits and the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Jerusalem

On July 31, the Society of Jesus of the Holy Land celebrated the feast of its founder with a mass: an opportunity to retrace its history in Jerusalem.

Actuality and events

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"Great for his admirable conversion, for his penitential acts of austerities, for his magnificent and diverse ventures to promote the greater glory of God and the exaltation of the Holy Church.” This is the beginning of the text by which, in 1622, Saint Ignatius of Loyola was proclaimed a saint.

His feast falls on July 31. The Society of Jesus, a papal priestly religious institute founded by him 500 years ago, celebrated his feast in Jerusalem and all over the world.

Father JOSÉ MARIA ABREGO, sj
Superior of Jesuit Community in the Holy Land
"He was a man who wanted to live and to die in the Holy Land. The fundamental purpose of his life was to follow Jesus, as he understood Him, the historical Jesus he imagined. However, thanks to God, he did not have permission to stay here, so he went back home. During the long journey of his life, he discovered that God was calling him for a different mission, so, instead of the historical Jesus, he followed the risen Christ in the Church.”

Father Abrego, superior of the community, celebrated a mass in the garden of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem, in the presence of the representatives of the major congregations in the city, including the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton.

The community grounded its roots in the early 1900s, when different Jesuit groups traveled to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Syria through the so-called 'biblical caravans'. Later, in the 1920s, the Vatican acquired the land where the existing building was built.

Father STEFANO BITTASI, sj
Director of Pontifical Biblical Institute of Jerusalem
"This home started as a center for Bible studies and as a base for these caravans of biblical students and archaeologists who worked at Teleilat Ghassul, of which we still have some remains in our museum."

Among the various finds, the only mummy present in Israel and Palestine is on display: this is a gift from the Egyptian community of Cairo on the occasion of the inauguration of the home. Archeology was a distinctive, but not the only feature of the Jesuit presence in Jerusalem.

Father STEFANO BITTASI, sj
Director of Pontifical Biblical Institute of Jerusalem
"At present, our vocation is tied to three fundamental purposes: the first one is to prepare a welcoming environment for biblical students from Rome and for Scriptures scholars who travel here to engage in research activities; secondly, our home is rich with spirituality which is a blessing to Jesuits who come from all over the world for lifelong learning and training programs. The third activity and vocation of this community is to be the home of the Jesuit community that lives in the Middle East, here in Jerusalem.”

Of the approximately 16,000 members of the Society of Jesus spread across 122 countries around the world, 10 religious of ten different nationalities are present in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, suggesting the international nature of the order, according to the intuition of St. Ignatius.

Father JOSÉ MARIA ABREGO, sj
Superior of Jesuit Community in the Holy Land
"His charisma was to seek the will of God, not his own, by reshaping his own images, by changing his own dreams.”