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Full text of "The Power And Secret Of The Jesuits Rene Fulop - Miller"

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Translated by 
F. S. FLINT and D. F. TAIT 



Printed in U. S. A. 

"NEVER before in the course of the world's history had 
such a Society appeared. The old Roman Senate itself did 
not lay schemes for world domination with greater cer- 
tainty of success. Never had the carrying out of a greater 
idea been considered with greater understanding. For all 
time this Society will be an example to every society which 
feels an organic longing for infinite extension and eternal 
duration but it will also be a witness to the fact that 
unregarded Time alone brings to naught the cleverest un- 
dertakings, and that the natural growth of the whole race 
inevitably suppresses the artificial growth of a part/' 



WRITINGS concerning the Society of Jesus may be numbered by 
thousands ; from the foundation of the order to the present day, 
every epoch, and almost every people and every tongue, has produced an 
extensive literature relating to the Jesuits. Of all these works, few indeed 
attempt to treat the subject objectively, while the remainder are all con- 
cerned either with reviling and accusing or with praising and defending. 

Nevertheless, anyone who in our days seeks the truth about Jesuitism 
will find more valuable help in these partisan, controversial writings than 
in the guaranteed information of the historians. For, however important 
in many respects verified data and documents may be, such dry compila- 
tions never reveal to us the whole, or, indeed, the most essential part, of 
the truth. Incomparably deeper insight into the being and the meaning 
of Jesuitism is afforded by all the hate-filled pamphlets, the highly 
coloured apologies, distorted representations, doctored reports, the 
slanderings and glorifications of the order's history. They show us the 
attitude of living men to the Jesuit idea, disclose how deeply this idea 
has influenced emotions, thoughts and actions at every period, to what 
a passionate degree of rage and enthusiasm it has driven the mind of 

In these writings, we see the combatants in the midst of the conflict, 
accusing or conciliatory, arrogant or humble, entreating or triumphing, 
cunning or open-hearted ; we hear the cadence of their speech, see their 
actions and their plottings. In consequence, the judgment to which such 
controversial literature leads us is not derived from colourless, historical 
material, reduced to dry data, but grows from the evidence of living wit- 
nesses arid from direct observation. 

The author, therefore, could scarcely have wished for more valuable 
or suggestive material relating to his subject than that which is to hand. 
It introduces us to the salons of Paris society, the observatories of great 
astronomers, the primeval forests of South America, the ceremonial 
halls of China, the palace of the Sacrum Officium, the lodges of the Free- 
masons, into churches, conspirators' conventicles and hermits' cells ; we 
pass through every town and country of the inhabited earth, through 

every epoch of recent times. We find ourselves involved in theological, 



philosophical, scientific, political, sociological and literary controversies 
until we at last realize that the four hundred years we have explored are 
the most significant in the development and culture of modern humanity 
and are filled with its most decisive problems. 

The present volume, therefore, does not profess to be the contribution 
of a professional historian to the history of the Jesuit order, so much as 
a picture of those human passions and dreams, achievements and failures, 
which have decided our modern culture, and a picture no less of those 
factors of cunning, infamy, heroism, intrigue, power of persuasion, 
despotism, sagacity and deception which have played their part in shaping 
the present. 

For this reason, the method of presentation of the professional his- 
torians, with its esoteric language, its impartial dryness and objectivity, 
for the sake of which the stupid and the wise, the sublime and the ridicu- 
lous are treated with equal respect, seemed unsuitable to the author's 

In the author's opinion, subjective appraisement, enthusiastic affirma- 
tion and denial, awe-struck reverence, indulgent humour and malicious 
mockery, as the subject at the moment demands, are no less valid means 
of representation than the objectivity of impersonal relation. It seems to 
him that the striving after true understanding should never compel a 
limitation of the means of expression, that, on the contrary, every con- 
ceivable faculty should be called into play/ if the truth is to be rendered 
even approximately. 

The author here wishes to express his sincerest and most heartfelt 
thanks especially to his esteemed friend, Mr. Johannes von Guenther, 
literary editor of the German publishers, for encouraging him to do jus- 
tice to the problems of Catholicism in a modern study and for the 
sympathy and understanding that were always forthcoming for the 
author and his work. He also thanks all those persons, authorities and 
societies whose help has been of the utmost value to him in his travels and 
in the collection of the documentary and illustrative material required ; 
here it should be remarked that Jesuits and other Catholic groups, as well 
as their opponents, Protestants, Socialists and Freemasons, have placed 
their services at his disposal in the most amicable way. 

In Spain, the author has had the help of Mr. M. Velasco y Aguirre, 
Curator of the Department of Prints -and Engravings of Madrid, Mr. 
F. de P. Amat, General Secretary of the University, of the editors of 
Razdn y Fe, Father Z. G. Villada, Mr. G. Fernandez-Shaw, Mr. E. Lucas, 


Professor M. G. Morente, Professor Don Anizeto Sardo y Villar 
and of Mr. M. Ullmann in Madrid, of Fathers P. Pastells and J. Villar 
at Manresa, J. M. de Estefania and L. Frias at Loyola, Father A. 
Tobella of the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat, Mr. J. de Urquito, 
President of the Basque Society at San Sebastian, Dr. Rubio of the 
Catalonian Library at Barcelona, of the eminent authority on Loyola, 
Father J. Creixel, and of Mr. C. B. Plata, Director of Indian Archives 
at Seville. 

The author's thanks are likewise due to Messrs. A. Babelon, A. Lin- 
zeler and M. Aubry of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, Professor J. 
Baruzzi and Mr. M. Bonnerot of the Sorbonne, Mr. F. Calot of the Ste.- 
Genevieve Library, Mr. F. Boucher of the Carnavalet Museum, Mrs. 
Horn and Mr. Rondel of the Arsenal Library, the editor-in-chief of 
Etudes, Father Dudon, and to Fathers Chambeau and Rouet in Paris. 

Their support in the work has also been given by Fathers P. Tacchi- 
Venturi, C. Bricarelli, F. Busnelli and E. Rosa, Professor A. Petrucci, 
of the Department of Prints and Engravings at the Palazzo Corsini, 
Professor F. X. Zimmerman, Professor Galassi-Paluzzi, Fathers Schu- 
lien and Schmidt, the directors of the Lateran Mission Exhibition, and 
Dr. J. Jorda of the Austrian Embassy at the Quirinal. 

The author's grateful thanks are also due to Dr. Joseph Gregor, the 
famous historian of dramatic art and director of the dramatic section of 
the National Library at Vienna, for rare works and engravings, to Mr. 
Franz Hanaczek, the director of Herder and Co. of Vienna and to Dr. 
Hermann Leber of Munich for valuable references. In procuring the 
necessary photographic reproductions, help has been given by Messrs. 
Vaule in Paris, Lagos in Madrid, Sarda at Manresa, Korty in Vienna, 
and Alinari, Calderisi and San Saini in Rome. 

Finally, special thanks are due to Mr. Percy Eckstein, the author's 
friend, who has given him the most valuable assistance in this work. 

VIENNA. August, 




Mystical Ecstasy and the Natural Way 3 
The "Application of the Senses" 7 
The Militant Saviour of the Jesuits 10 
Examination of Conscience by the Schedule Sys- 
tem 13 
The "Living Art" of the Exercises 16 
The "Corpse-Like Obedience" 18 
The Pyramid to God 24 


His Personality and Work 28 

"Given Up to the Vanities of the World" 31 

His Visions on the Rack 37 
From Philanderer to a "Master of the Affects" 41 

At the Tables of the Pious Ladies 47 

The Travels and Adventures of a Fool 5 1 

Salvation and Perplexity 57 
The Work of Conversion in the Students' Room 61 

The Founding of the Society of Jesus 65 

Up Against Modern Problems 67 

The Way to World Domination 72 
Physical Asceticism and Discipline of the Will 76 

Death and the Post for Spain 79 


Grace and Salvation through Good Works 85 

Perplexities from Stagira to Trent 89 

The Pope's Comma 94 

The Uproar Among the Theologians 96 

Grace in the Salons 100 
"Novelists and Dramatists Are Poisonmongers" 106 

The Fateful Five Propositions 109 

Signs and Wonders 116 


Doubt, the Source of Knowledge 120 
Descartes and the Jesuits 123 
Leibniz, the Friend of the Jesuits 125 
Free Will in the Light of the Newer Philosophy 129 
The Dispute between the Jesuits and the Experi- 
mental Psychologists 131 
"Behaviourism," Plant-Lice and Pavlov's Dog 134 


Free Will and Responsibility 141 
The Jesuits and Absolution 143 
"The End Justifies the Means" 1 50 
Aristotle, the Progenitor of Jesuit Moral Philos- 
ophy 156 
The Atomization of Morality 163 
Problems of Confessional Practice 166 
The Judge in the Confessional 171 
The Moral Philosophy of the Talmud and of the 

Stoics 1 80 

Probabilism 185 

The "Certain" and the "Uncertain" Conscience 189 

"Austere and Morbid Pascal" 194 


Merchant Among Merchants and Soldier Among 

Soldiers 199 
With the Pearl-Fishers and Rajahs 205 
The Dream of "Chinquinquo" 209 
At the Court of the Great Voo 216 
"Deus" Against "Dainichi" 218 
Before the Gates of China 221 
Jesuits as Brahmins and Yogis 223 
At the Court of the Great Mogul 228 
From the Tea Ceremonial to Martyrdom 230 
Father Ricci Doctor Li 235 
Conversion through Clock and Calendar 241 
Teachers and Diplomats at the Peking Court 252 
The Order of Gardeners and "Lightning Artists" 257 
The Triumph of the Fountain and the Mechan- 
ical Lion 264 
Profanation or Toleration? 266 
The Fish-Hook Mission 270 


Father Marquette, the Explorer of the Mississippi 273 

Friends of the Red Men 276 

The Jesuits' Musical Kingdom 283 

A Benevolent Dictatorship 289 

The Armed Forces of the Jesuit Republic 294 

A Forest Utopia 298 


The Struggle with the English Police Agents 303 

The Theologian on the Royal Throne 308 
The "Sovereignty of the People" and Tyrannicide 313 - 

Comedy of the Disguises 318 - 

The Mediator of War and Peace 323 

A Jesuit at the Court of Ivan the Terrible 328 

The "False Demetrius" 337 
The Success and the End of the "Jesuit Kings" 342 
The Struggle Against the German Reformation 345 - 

The Jesuits in the Thirty Years' War 350 ^ 

The Conscience of Kings 359 

The Confessors of Louis XIV 366 

The Tribulations of Madame de Pompadour 371 

"Enlightened Despotism" 374 _ 

The "Mutiny of the Hats" 379 

Dominus ac Redemptor 382 


The Resurrection of the Order 385 

The Catholicization of Thought 391^ 

The Jesuits and Galileo 396 

Scholars Among Scholars 400 

The Educational Work of the Fathers 404 - 

The Jesuit Theatre 409 

Jesuit Opera and Jesuit Ballet 415 

The Stage Management of the Jesuits 417 

The Society of Jesus and the Arts 421 

The Revolt of the Scholars 427 

The Freemasons and the Jesuits 434- 

The Return in Spirit 437 

Kant and Neo-Scholasticism 442 

Jesuitism and Psychoanalysis 449 

The Conflict Over Modern Political Ideals 4S4 r 

Dostoievsky's Grand Inquisitor 463 



Gloria Dei and Gloria Mundi 470 

Jesuit Methods in the Light of Modern Times 474 

True to the Earth 481 

The Service of the Order to Civilization 484 

The Way of Knowledge and the Way of Faith 487 


INDEX 515 


Frontispiece: Ignatius Loyola 

1. Examen particulare 

2. Examination of the conscience 

3. The torments of hell 

4. The seven deadly sins 

5. The election 

6. The two standards 

7. The followers of Christ 

8. The evil spirits 

9. The circles of purification 

10. The Last Supper 

1 1 . The Resurrection 

12. The sepulture of the Virgin 
13-14. Nuns and mendicant 

monks before the appear- 
ance of the Jesuits 

15. The Jesuit Martini as a Chi- 

nese mandarin pays a cere- 
monial visit to the Emperor 

16. Ignatius as the Knight Inigo 

17. Queen Germaine 

18-21. Woodcuts from the Tale 
of Chivalry, Amadis of 

22. Ignatius dedicates his life to 

the Queen of Heaven 

23. Ignatius, weakened by his 

penances, is cared for by 
the ladies of the house of 
Amigant in Manresa 

24. Montserrat 

25. The court of the cloister at 


26. The Senator Trevisano finds 


27. Ignatius on the voyage to 


28. Jerusalem 

29. The Doctors of the University 

of Salamanca 

30. Ignatius, at the age of thirty- 

three, attends the school for 
boys in Barcelona 

31. Ignatius in prison suspected 

of heresy 

32. The almshouse St.-Jacques de 

THopital where Ignatius 
lived in Paris 

33. College de Montaigu, Paris 

34. The chapel of St. Mary on 


35. The University Quarter in 


36. La Storta 

37. The house on the Piazza 

Margana where Ignatius 
lived in Rome 

38. Rome in the sixteenth century 

39. The pope dispensing his bless- 

ing from the benediction 
balcony of St. Peter's 

40. Pope Paul III 

41. The life of Ignatius: Pope 

Paul III sanctions the Soci- 
ety of Jesus. Ignatius com- 
poses the Constitutions. He 
sends his first missionaries 
into the world 

42. Facsimile of a letter by Ig- 


43. Ignatius Loyola (Lavater) 

44. Ignatius Loyola (Titian) 

45. Ignatius Loyola (Coello) 



46. The work of Ignatius: the 

order and its establishments 
over the whole world 

47. Session of the Council of 


48. Cardinal Bellarmine: the fa- 

mous Jesuit controversialist 

49. Luis Molina : the originator of 


50. Bishop Cornelius Jansen 

51. Du Vergier de Hauranne, Ab- 

bot of Saint-Cyran 

52. Port Royal des Champs 

53. Port Royal de Paris 

54. The nuns of Port Royal in the 

convent garden 

55. Procession of the nuns of 

Port Royal 

56. Angelique Arnauld 

57. Catherine Agnes Arnauld 

58. Princesse de Conti : the protec- 

tress of Port Royal 

59. Mock procession against Jan- 

senism instituted by the stu- 
dents of the Jesuit college 
of Macon 

60. Jean Racine 

61. Blaise Pascal 

62. "While the shepherds quar- 

rel the wolves devour the 
herd:" Contemporary cari- 
cature on the clerical strife 

63. Jansenist satirical drawing 

against the Jesuits 

64. Frangois de Paris doing pen- 

ance in his cell 

65. Frangois de Paris on his death- 


66. Ladies of rank at the wonder- 

working grave of Frangois 
de Paris 

67. Francisco Saurez 

68. Antonio Escobar y Mendoza 

69. Symbolical painting from the 

Jesuit church at Billom, 
representing the work of 
salvation of the order 

70. Confession 

7 1 . The Jesuit Girard and his con- 

f essant, "la belle Cadiere" 

72. The death of Francis Xavier 

73. Street life in Goa 

74. Portuguese galley manned by 

natives of Malabar 

75. The King of Cochin and his 


76. State galley of the King of 


77. A Japanese preacher 

78. The Jesuits in Japan 

79. Daimyo Nobunaga : the friend 

of the Christians 

80. Daimyo Hideyoshi : the enemy 

of the Christians 

8 1 . The martyrs of the Jesuit mis- 

sion to Japan 

82. The martyrs of the Jesuit mis- 

sion to Japan 

83. The Jesuit missionary Robert 

de Nobili 

84. The Jesuit missionary Ricci 

and a Chinese converted by 

85. A Jesuit representation of 


86. The astronomical observatory 

erected in Peking by the 

87. The Jesuit Court astronomers 

of the Emperor of China, 
two Chinese converted by 
them, and the Chinese cross 
they used 


88. Chinese Festival 109. 

89. A Jesuit representation of the 

gods of China 

90. The first map of the Missis- no. 


91. The torture of the Jesuits 

Brebeuf and Lalemant by m. 
the Canadian Indians 112. 

92. Indians of the Jesuit Republic 113. 

of Paraguay 114. 

93. The Jesuit Republic of Para- 115. 

guay 116. 

94. The Castle of San Augustin 117. 

de Arecutagua in Paraguay ug t 

95. The plan of a Jesuit reduction 

in Paraguay II9< 

96. Ruins of the mission church 

of San Miguel I2 o. 

97. King James I of England 

98. The Jesuit theologian Mari- I2 i. 

ana : Educator of Philip III 

of Spain 122. 

99. The controversial work of 

James I against the pope 

100. The "League" : Procession of 123. 

armed crowds under the 124. 
leadership of priests 

101. The assassination of Henry I2 5- 

III by the monk Clement 

1 02. Execution of the Jesuit Guig- 

nard I26 - 

103. King James II of England 

104. The Jesuit school, Heythorpe 

College, in Oxfordshire, I27 ' 

105. Vienna I2 g 

1 06. Peter Canisius 

107. Peter Faber 

108. Expulsion of the Jesuits from 129. 

Paris under Henry IV 

Henry IV's heart being trans- 
ferred to the Jesuit college 

of La Fleche 
Louis XIV and his court 

ride in state to the Jesuit 


King Louis XIV of France 
Marquise de Montespan 
Madame de Maintenon 
Mademoiselle de La Valliere 
Louis XV of France 
Marquise de Pompadour 
Father-confessor Perusseau 
The expulsion of the Jesuits 

from Portugal 
The expulsion of the Jesuits 

from Spain 
The professed house of the 

Jesuits in Vienna 
The Jesuit college of La 

Pope Clement XIV (Gan- 

ganelli), who abolished the 

Jesuit order 
Galileo Galilei 

Scenery from the Jesuit thea- 
tre at Clermont 
Grand festival in the College 

de Clermont in celebration 

of the birth of Louis XIII 
Scene from the Jesuit festival 

play Pietas Victrix in 

Sketch of a scene for the 

Jesuit theatre in Vienna by 

Ludovico Burnacini 
Jesuit festival in Vienna to 

celebrate the averting of 

the plague 
Carnival procession of the 

Jesuits in Mexico, 1647 



130-133. Sketches for festivals 137. 

and games by the Jesuit 138. 

Menestrier 139. 

134. Sketch for a church festival 140. 

by Pozzo 

135. Jesuit church in Courtray 141. 

136. Jesuit church in Brussels 142. 

Ignatius healing the possessed 
Ignatius Loyola (Montanes) 
Francisco Borgia 
The magic lantern invented by 
the Jesuit Father Kircher 
Astrologic medicine 
The glory of St. Ignatius 





Mystical Ecstasy and the Natural Way 

THE attainment of a state of perfection, that goal which has hov- 
ered from time immemorial before man's eyes, has never been 
desired with such passionate ardour as in the Christian Middle Ages. 
But, until far into modern times, Christendom was scarcely aware of 
any other perfection possible in this life than that of "union with God" 
in mystical ecstasy. 

It was thought, however, that this could not be attained by human 
endeavour, however fervent, but that the visio Dei was accorded only to 
those enlightened by the grace of God. "To this state of blessedness," 
said Bernard of Clairvaux, the famous preacher of the twelfth century, 
"man never attains by his own efforts; it is a gift of God and not the 
desert of man." 

Man's endeavour to raise himself through spiritual exercises above 
the ordinary standard to a higher degree of achievement was, indeed, 
considered praiseworthy and meritorious; but the "acquired illumina- 
tion" which might be attained by this method was regarded mostly as a 
low, preparatory degree of purification. According to prevailing medi- 
aeval belief, the difference between this and the true perfection, which 
was accorded to the elect in the ecstasy of "infused illumination," was 
one not merely of degree, but of kind. 

Even the ascetic, mystical school of the "Brothers of Common Life," 
who were the first to preach a practical way of purification by means of 
ascetic exercises, as opposed to purely passive mysticism, taught at the 
same time that such a via purgativa could at best render a man more fit 
for the reception of illumination, but that this itself was always a donum 
extraordinarium, a free gift of God to the elect. 

Therefore, it is also impossible to apprehend the circumstances of this 
"union with God" with the natural senses. All the mystics teach that 
reason is impotent, memory dies away, images, forms and likenesses 
vanish before this perfection sine forma corporea, sine specie imaginaria 


et sine omni luce creata. Only when every sensible perception is ex- 
tinguished can the soul behold the brightness of God, "in blindness and 
nescience, without form or sound, and without the powers of reason." 

"Good people are often hindered by this," says the German mystic 
Master Eckhart, "that they rely too much on sight and see things as 
images in their minds, and thereby hinder their true perfection, in that 
they remain dependent in their mental affections upon the image of the 
humanity of Our Lord." True enlightenment, on the other hand, is far 
removed from everything that might be compared to anything in the 
common world of the senses. 

Accordingly the gulf separating the ordinary man from the super- 
natural state appeared unbridgeable : there was no likeness, no image, 
nothing that could give even an inkling of that state. Every word of the 
mystics seemed designed to throw the great mass of those who had not 
received divine grace into the depths of despair, and to make them feel 
how vain must be all their endeavours, and how impotent these were to 
lead them to perfection. 

The Jesuits, however, in direct opposition to such opinions, made 
themselves the exponents of another doctrine, according to which per fac- 
tion could not only be experienced in supernatural ecstasy, but also could 
be attained by the exercise of the natural human capacities. If the mystics 
maintained, with St. Dionysius, that perfection consisted solely in a 
divina pati, in "suffering the Divine," the Jesuits, in accordance with the 
teaching of the founder of their order, Ignatius Loyola, taught that even 
those who did not possess the supernatural illumination, infused into the 
soul, of which the mystics thought so highly, could achieve perfection 
by their own efforts and pains. 

According to this teaching, man was no longer condemned to wait in 
patience until the visio Dei was vouchsafed to him ; on the contrary, to 
the human will was attributed that same power which had hitherto been 
sought only in supernatural illumination. 

"I can find God at all times, whenever I will," Ignatius Loyola said 
once to Manares, one of the brothers of his order. Man, he taught, had 
only to strive after God in the right way, in order to attain to Him ; all 
that was necessary was zeal and the right use of natural capacities. As 
the body can be exercised "by going, walking and running," so by ex- 
ercises the will may be disposed "to find the divine will." 

These fundamental principles formulated by Ignatius became the 
guiding principle of the Jesuit order. Thus, in later days, the Jesuit theo- 
logian, Francisco Suarez, wrote that holiness consisted in nothing but 


**") ' 

"the conforming of our will to the will of God" ; this' conformity, how- 
ever, could quite well be attained "without the grace of illumination." 
The Spanish Jesuit, Godinez, went yet further when he said that in gen- 
eral the man who lived in a state of intense contemplation was not to be 
regarded as the more perfect, but he whose will strove the more eagerly 
after perfection. 

Through their tireless advocacy of this teaching, the Jesuits brought 
about a complete revolution in Catholic thought, especially after they had 
succeeded in inspiring with their principles prominent churchmen out- 
side the Society of Jesus. Thus, under Jesuit influence, Vincent de Paul, 
the founder of the order of Lazarists, became convinced that perfection 
could be attained "in an ordinary manner," by will and purpose more 
surely than by contemplative mysticism. The great bishop of Geneva, 
Francis of Sales, frequently emphasized the fact that many canonized 
saints had never had "visions," but had reached holiness merely by 
their ardent efforts. 

In his Book of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola has endeav- 
oured to show how man may develop his natural powers to the highest 
degree by systematic exercises. He starts from the fundamental assump- 
tion that perfection, in the last resort, consists solely in this : that man, 
who from his ordinary standpoint views life in a false, earthly and 
transitory perspective, and consequently often goes astray, should strug- 
gle forward to a free way of life and thought leading straight to the 
highest goal. 

In the very first introductory paragraph of the Spiritual Exercises, 
known as the "Foundation," this point of view is plainly expressed. In 
it, the purpose of man is defined as conforming to the will of God and 
thereby adapting himself to the highest moral order. All other creatures 
on the earth were created solely for the sake of man, so that he may use 
them as far as they are of use to him in the attainment of the end ap- 
pointed for him by God. 

The introductory meditation of the Exercises demands "inner free- 
dom in respect of temporal possessions, troubles and affections." It is 
necessary "that we make ourselves indifferent in regard to all created 
things, so that we shall not wish for health rather than sickness, for 
riches rather than poverty, for honour rather than reproach, for a long 
life rather than a short one." We must desire only that "which may better 
lead us to the end for which we were created." 

This "indifference" does not, however, signify with Ignatius an end in 
itself, like the ataraxia of the ancient Stoics or the "detachment" of the 


mediaeval mystics ; it is merely a necessary pre-condition, so that the will 
may free itself from all disturbing, confusing attachments and inclina- 
tions, and may learn to act solely in accordance with the divine will. 

For, according to Jesuit teaching, God is not to be found only in in- 
active transports of ecstasy, but above all in a clear recognition of the 
divine will, and in an activity directed by this recognition ; man attains to 
perfection when all his actions are directed "to the greater glory of God." 

This point of view destroyed the hitherto prevalent belief in the spe- 
cial vocation of the few, elect persons. Hosts of pious people, who had 
never received a "revelation," now saw before them a way by which 
they might reach perfection, with no less certainty than those whom God 
elevated to Himself in the fire of mystical ecstasy. 

In his Exercises, Ignatius has accurately delineated this way, describ- 
ing carefully all the regions, the valleys, heights and depths to be trav- 
ersed. He has indicated the places where the pilgrim may take his ease, 
and those other places where a steep ascent is to be expected, the side 
tracks that lead astray, the threatening precipices and dangerous abysses. 
Here and there are signposts and milestones, so that the wanderer may 
know how great a distance he has put behind him, and how near or far 
is the goal. 

Everywhere along the way there are familiar pictures, bathed in a 
light which is the very light of earth. To the end, the disciple is allowed 
the use of his earthly senses, and he is never required to divest himself of 
his humanity. For the Exercises unlike the mystical writings which 
taught that to reach to God it was necessary to extinguish seeing and 
hearing, images and likenesses endeavour to lead man to the highest 
goal with the aid of his natural capacities and senses. 

Ignatius avails himself, in especial, of the power of imagination; he 
tries to awaken in his pupils quite definite pictorial representations, 
all with the object of intensifying the power of distinguishing between 
right and wrong conduct. For man's progress to perfection must be 
based on this ability to distinguish right from wrong; but we are per- 
petually halting between two possibilities, right or wrong, good or bad, 
Christ or Satan, usually unable to be sure of always choosing what is 

He who goes through Loyola's Spiritual Exercises has to experience 
hell and heaven with all his senses, to know burning pain and blessed 
rapture, so that the distinction between good and evil is for ever indelibly 
imprinted in his soul. With this preparation, the exercitant is brought to 
the great "election," the choice between Satan and Christ; it is to this 





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election that actual life will bring him again and again, and it is on this 
that his good or bad conduct will constantly depend. 

It is through images that Ignatius strives to assist mankind towards 
perfection ; for every day and for every hour of the day the Exercises 
prescribe exactly what representations the exercitant has to evoke, and 
of what aids to this end he has to make use. Today, four hundred years 
after the birth of the Exercises, the modern psychologist will no doubt 
regard many of these late mediaeval representations as antiquated and 
consequently ineffective ; but he will not be able to withhold admiration 
from the deep psychological knowledge with which understanding, im- 
agination and will have been made to co-operate in the Exercises. From 
this point of view, the Exercises of Ignatius is acclaimed to this day as a 
psychological -masterpiece. 

The "Application of the Senses" 

The vivid representation of Evil is achieved in the Spiritual Exercises 
by terrible pictures of hell, while Good is symbolized by the earthly life 
of Christ, which the exercitant must represent to himself stage by stage, 
as if it were a realistic Passion play. The final "election" is depicted 
dramatically as two belligerent armies : the militant hordes of Satan op- 
pose the "standard of Christ." 

First of all, hell is represented in all its horror, filled with the wailing 
crowds of the damned. In this exercise, the pupil has in the first place 
"to see with the eye of the imagination the length, breadth and depth of 
hell"; but the other senses must co-operate, for it is written in these 
peculiar directions with their precise division into "points": 

"The first point consists in this, that I see with the eye of imagination 
those enornious fires, and the souls as it were in bodies of fire. 

"The second point consists in this, that I hear with the ears of the im- 
agination the lamentations, howlings, cries, the blasphemies against 
Christ Our Lord and against all His saints. 

"The third point consists in this, that I smell with the sense of smell 
of the imagination the smoke, brimstone, refuse and rotting things of 

"The fourth point consists in this, that I taste with the sense of taste 
of the imagination the bitter things, the tears, sorrows and the worm of 
conscience in hell. 

"The fifth point consists in feeling with the sense of touch of the im- 
agination how these fires fasten upon and burn souls." 


The exercitant, therefore, experiences hell with all his senses ; he sees, 
hears, smells, tastes and feels it until he is overwhelmed with horror of 
the terrors of the inferno, and shuddering fear of the judgment of God. 

Catholic doctrine has always seen in the "fear of God" a means of 
purification of peculiar potency. "Blessed is he to whom it is given to 
know the fear of God 1" exclaims Anselm of Canterbury, and Bernard of 
Clairvaux asserts that the soul first tastes of God "when He moves it to 
fear, not when He leads it to knowledge." According to Cassiodorus, 
too, fear is "the portal of conversion," through which man goes to God 
"as through an open door." 

Although the great scholastics Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas 
distinguished between a "servile fear" and a higher "filial fear of God" 
born of true love, they emphasize at the same time that servile fear, the 
sinner's fear of death and the pains of hell, is the prelude to filial fear. 

Bonaventura, the "Seraphic Doctor" of scholasticism, even gives in- 
structions how to stimulate servile fear : "Consider the way and manner 
in which man dies, and put yourself sometimes in the position of one in 
the throes of death, then will you be able to picture more vividly the cir- 
cumstances of death. . . . How reluctantly will the soul quit this life, 
when at its departure it first looks upon an unknown country and sees 
how whole hordes of evil spirits are lying in wait for it !" 

The books which exercised the strongest influence on Ignatius Loyola 
likewise contained vivid descriptions of eternal damnation. "It will be 
profitable to you, dear brother," it is written in the Book of Exercises 
of the Spanish abbot, Garcia de Cisneros, "to picture to yourself the 
torments of hell, as well as hell itself. . . . Picture to yourself there- 
fore : an exceedingly desolate confusion, a place deep under the earth like 
a fiery crater or a gigantic town, shrouded in terrible darkness, blazing 
with dreadful flames. Cries and lamentations which pierce to the very 
marrow fill the air. The unhappy inhabitants, whose pains and torments 
no human tongue can describe, are burning in raging despair." 

The inferno is similarly described in Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of 
Christ: "There shall the slothful be pricked forward with burning goads, 
and the gluttons be tormented with vast thirst and hunger. There shall 
the luxurious and lovers of pleasure be bathed in burning pitch and 
stinking brimstone. . . . There one hour of pain shall be more severe 
than a hundred years of the severest penance here." 

Just at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the Exercises were 
being composed, the general delineation of death, hell and purgatory had 
reached its zenith ; the memento mori forced its way upon man's atten- 


tion from every direction. Even on articles of ornament, skeletons or the 
flaming jaws of hell were engraved, and rosary beads were made in the 
shape of skulls. Priests preached impressively from every pulpit on eter- 
nal damnation, and the numerous tracts on the ars bene moriendi, the 
books of hours, primers and breviaries of the time dealt with the same 
subject; scientific works gave minute details of the pains of death, and 
full topographical descriptions of the situation, dimensions and organ- 
ization of the Satanic kingdom. 

The material for Ignatius's representation of hell was, therefore, 
ready to his hand, in a thousand different forms, in the spiritual and 
artistic world of the time; but, in his Exercises, these pictorial images 
were for the first time systematically employed to produce a quite def- 
inite psychological effect, and to contribute to a process of inner puri- 
fication. The pictures of death and hell are intended to alarm and terrify 
the mind of the exercitant, so that, clearly recognizing his own sinfulness 
and the eternal damnation which threatens him, he may decide to change 
his way of life and thought. 

When this has been achieved, the exercitant is shown the ideal which 
he is to imitate : Ignatius admonishes him to steep himself in the life and 
passion of Christ. As with the previous representations of hell, here 
again all the senses are employed to evoke visible images, and here 
again Ignatius insists on an exact "representation of the place." 

"I am to picture to myself, as if I saw with the eye of the imagination, 
the synagogues, villages and towns which Christ Our Lord passes 
through and in which He preaches. ... If the Blessed Virgin is the 
subject, the method of meditation is that I picture to myself a little house, 
and then in particular the house and the apartment of Our Blessed Lady 
in the city of Nazareth in the country of Galilee." 

In the contemplation of the birth of Our Lord, Ignatius gives the com- 
mand "to see with the eye of the imagination the road leading from Naz- 
areth to Bethlehem" ; its length and breadth "are to be considered as well 
as the circumstance whether the road is flat or whether it leads through 
valleys and over heights." The exercitant has also "to picture the cave of 
the Nativity, how broad or how narrow, how low or how lofty it is and 
how constructed." 

The exercitant is always directed to see the persons "with the eye of 
the imagination" and "to hear with the hearing what they say" ; with the 
sense of smell and taste he must perceive "the immeasurable fragrance 
and sweetness of the Godhead" and "with the sense of touch of the im- 
agination" must touch the places where Christ has set foot. 


The Last Supper is to be pictured as vividly as if the exercitant were 
himself sitting at the table, seeing the actions of Christ and hearing the 
speech of those present. The exercitant must taste the loaves and fishes 
with which Jesus feeds the multitude; he must smell the Magdalene's 
ointment, and with her must anoint the Saviour's feet, wipe them and 
kiss them. But he must also suffer with Christ the scourging and the 
pains of the Crucifixion ; with Him he must descend into the grave and 
ascend at last to heaven. Thus Loyola's disciple is himself drawn into 
the mystery play which presents, with holy awe, the life of the Son of 
God from His birth to His transfiguration. 

Even in the meditation on the night in the Garden of Gethsemane, a 
precise repraesentatio loci is prescribed : "Here the road from Mount 
Sion to the Valley of Jehoshaphat must be contemplated, and likewise the 
Garden, whether it is broad or long, whether of one style or of another." 

Edgar Quinet, one of the great Catholic opponents of the Ignatian 
teaching, says with indignation, of this part of the Exercises, that it is 
quite incomprehensible that here, where a divine mystery is being con- 
sidered, the prelude should consist in this : that, in the first place, a mate- 
rialistically conceived place should be described, its area measured in a 
trivial manner, the path methodically marked out. "Christ stands at the 
foot of Mount Tabor, at the inexpressible moment of transfiguration 
and the exercitant has to occupy himself with the form of the moun- 
tain, its height, its breadth and vegetation !" 

The Militant Saviour of the Jesuits 

The mjeditations on the earthly life, the crucifixion and resurrection 
of the Saviour had been embodied in Catholic religious life long before 
the days of Ignatius, both in the liturgical worship of the Church itself 
and in a great number of prayers and mystical meditations, such as had 
been in use from the early days of Christianity. 

Augustine himself had proclaimed that the way of purification leads 
per Christum hominem ad Christum Deum, and Thomas Aquinas had 
taught that man truly belongs to Christ only when, penetrated by the 
spirit of Jesus, he does his sins to death in the imitation of the Saviour. 
This idea of the imitatio Christi, howewr, finds its most beautiful ex- 
pression in Francis of Assisi, for whom Jesus was the Example of vol- 
untary self-abasement, humility and self-abnegation. It is, indeed, 
reported of Francis that he felt the sufferings of Christ so intensely that 
at last the stigmata of the Crucified appeared on his body. 



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After Bernard of Clairvaux, in particular, had made the life and suf- 
ferings of Christ the basis of his famous preaching, a great part of 
mediaeval piety stood under the spell of Bernard's mysticism of the Pas- 
sion. It is in this spirit that the Christ of the German mystic, Heinrich 
Suso, proclaims : "No one can attain to divine heights and to unaccus- 
tomed sweetness, unless he is drawn thither by the picture of my human 

Even Martin Luther wrote : "Whether I am to hear it or think of it, it 
is inevitable that I make an image of it in my heart. Whether I will or 
not, there projects itself in my heart the image of a Man hanging on the 
Cross, just as my countenance is projected in water when I gaze therein." 

Yet, it is in the very contemplations on the Passion that the funda- 
mental difference between the Ignatian exercises and former methods of 
religious meditation is most clearly shown. In all other forms of Catholic 
devotion, Jesus appears as the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in sublime 
heights, to Whom man can only pray, in all humility. In this way had the 
Son of God been always reverenced hitherto : by nocturnal prayer and 
solemn chants, and, as is written in the Benedictine formula, "with 
praise, glory, honour and service of the Divine Majesty." Even Francis's 
"imitation of Christ" consists for the most part in a self -forgetting mys- 
tical submersion, remote from the world, of which the "Poverello" had 
given the first example. 

The relation of the Jesuit to his Saviour is something entirely differ- 
ent. For, in the Exercises, Christ is not merely the object of reflective 
contemplation ; here, He approaches the exercitant, speaks to him, and 
requires of him decision and action. Here, Jesus is not by any means the 
Lord of Heaven, peacefully enthroned in His glory ; on the contrary, He 
appears as a militant King, fighting for His kingdom. He turns to man, 
and requires his service in the great battle against Lucifer. 

The "Meditation on the Reign of Christ" in the Exercises begins by 
the exercitant's representing to himself an earthly king "to whom all 
princes and all Christian people pay reverence and obedience." This king 
speaks to his followers, saying that he desires to conquer the land of the 
infidel for the true faith, and requires the support of all his vassals. 
"Whoever wishes to come with me must labour as I do by day and watch 
by night, so that he may at last be made partaker of my victory." 

Now the exercitant has to consider "what should be the answer of 
good subjects to so noble and generous a king." The answer can be noth- 
ing but an oath of fealty, and when the exercitant has clearly recognized 
this, the second part of the exercise presented by Ignatius consists "in 


applying the example of an earthly king to Christ our Lord." If the call 
of an earthly king inspires his subjects to follow him, how much the more 
should it inspire when the Son of God calls mankind to the fight against 
the Evil One! 

This call to arms is repeated even more impressively in the famous 
"Meditation on the Two Standards." Here, with the "application of all 
the senses," Jesus has to be represented "on the field before Jerusalem'' 
as the supreme Captain of His army, while over against Him "in the 
region of Babylon" Satan calls together his demons for the last decisive 

"I picture to myself how Lucifer calls together an assembly of count- 
less evil spirits, and then how he sends them out throughout the whole 
world, leaving out no land, nor place, nor race nor individual. ... In 
like manner, I must consider on the opposite side, the Supreme and True 
Captain, Our Lord Christ . . . how He chooses His apostles and dis- 
ciples, and sends them out into the whole world, so that they may spread 
the sacred doctrine among all mankind." 

Ignatius, according to his disciples, regarded the meditations on the 
"Reign of Christ" and the "Two Standards" as the kernel of the Ex- 
ercises, and in them indeed the fundamental principle of Jesuit teaching 
is expressed : the call to man to make a voluntary decision to join the side 
of Christ and to co-operate in increasing the glory of God : ad majorem 

The idea of the glory of God is not, indeed, peculiar to Jesuitism, but 
is found in the rest of the Catholic Church, and, yet more, in Calvinism. 
At the very time when Ignatius was attempting, with the help of his 
newly founded order, to bring the world "under the dominion of God," 
Calvin was making the same attempt in the narrow confines of the re- 
public of Geneva. Just as the founder of the Society of Jesus called his 
efforts "military service for God," so Calvin called his work a "holy mili- 
tary service for the Supreme Captain," and the Genevan reformer, too, 
often spoke of the "glory of God" when he summoned his followers to 
the campaign against sin. 

Yet, between the Jesuit and the Calvinist conception of the "glory of 
God" there is an abysmal difference. For Calvinism, dominated by the 
strict belief in predestination, everything in the world is pre-determined 
from all eternity; man's good deeds, therefore, cannot increase the glory 
of God, nor his ill deeds detract from it. In the splendour of God, there 
is no place for the co-operation of man, and the only link between mortal 
man and the unapproachable majesty of Christ is the word of God. 


But, according to Jesuit teaching, the realization of the kingdom of 
God depends ultimately on the will of men, and it can be set up only by 
their help. In the Exercises, Jesus approaches man directly, seeks to guide 
him to the right "election," and commands him to contribute "to the 
greater glory of God." The very use of this comparative, always em- 
ployed by Ignatius, indicates an idea of motion and increase peculiar to 
Jesuitism : the glory of God can be increased, and that by the co-operation 
of man. 

Examination of Conscience by the Schedule System 

From the "Foundation" to the final meditations, the Exercises is care- 
fully planned so that every impulse of the exercitant shall conform to a 
definite psychological system. The inner life, no less than the imagina- 
tion, is put under the most severe discipline : sorrow and joy, despair and 
rejoicing, are not left to the arbitrary moods of the moment, but all emo- 
tions are placed under the control of a purposeful will. 

The student is given precise instructions on what he has to feel from 
time to time during the exercises : so, at one place it is written : "The fifth 
point is a cry of wonder, with a flood of emotion." A stern warning is 
moreover given "that no foreign emotion, however noble, should inter- 
rupt the prescribed course, so that when lamentation over sin or the 
pains of death should be tasted, the consolation of redemption and resur- 
rection should not intrude, out of its place." 

The Exercises also teaches the student what he must do, to attain at 
all times the right mood : "If I desire to awaken in me heartfelt sorrow 
for the sufferings of Christ, then I must suffer no pleasant thoughts, 
however good and holy, to enter in, but I must rouse myself to sorrow, 
grief and pain, by calling constantly to mind the griefs, pains and sor- 
rows of Our Lord from His birth to His passion." 

The conscience likewise has to be disciplined and governed by the help 
of mechanical rules, and to this end Ignatius prescribes the use of a writ- 
ten system of control. The exercitant has from day to day to mark with 
points on a schedule the sins he has committed, and the comparison be- 
tween the rows of dots at the beginning of the exercise and the rows, 
shortened as much as possible, at a later stage shows the progress made 
in the rooting out of sinful habits and tendencies. 

Eberhard Gothein describes the manner of this peculiar examen par- 
ticulare very aptly, when he says that it is undertaken "in the form of 
accurate book-keeping." "The number of sins is entered in a schedule, 


and from this the moral position can be reckoned from day to day with 
the accuracy of a calculating machine/' 

It is highly remarkable that the Puritan sage, Benjamin Franklin, ar- 
rived of his own accord at a system of examination of conscience which 
is the exact counterpart of the Ignatian cxamen particulare. 

"I made myself a little book," writes Franklin in the memoirs of his 
life, "and ruled each page so as to have seven columns, one for each day 
of the week. In these columns I marked with a little black spot every fault 
which I had committed. ... I determined to give a week's strict atten- 
tion to each of the virtues successively. ... I was surprised to find 
myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined ; but I had the satis- 
faction of seeing them diminish. . . . It may be well my posterity should 
be informed that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their 
ancestor owed the constant felicity of his life." 

Ignatius also gives full directions concerning the outward bearing of 
the exercitant during the performance of the exercises ; he prescribes 
carefully the right way of breathing in and out during prayer, what 
bodily posture is desirable, when the cell must be darkened, when the 
exercitant should gaze upon dead men's bones, and again when the con- 
templation of fresh flowers may call to mind "the blossoming of the 
spiritual life." 

But, in addition to this, the exercitant is given an experienced guide 
on his way to perfection, someone who has already trodden the road 
many times and knows its dangers well. "As man cannot well dispense 
with the external direction of superiors and spiritual fathers," writes 
Ignatius, "it is very necessary that he should discuss all his spiritual ex- 
ercises with a wise person and always follow his advice." The exercises, 
therefore, are rarely performed by the exercitant alone, but are given 
him by a "master of the exercises." It is the task of this master to adapt 
the exercises to the particular individuality of the student, and in this 
way to make certain that the desired effect, the complete discipline of the 
will and of the inner life, shall be attained in every case. 

"At last the passions have found their master !" cried Cochlaeus, the 
humanistic opponent of Luther, when he learnt of the exercises through 
the Jesuit, Peter Faber. Nevertheless, Edgar Quinet declared that these 
spiritual exercises were a system which led "to ecstasy, by the yoke of 

Yet, in this very thing perhaps lies the secret of the effectiveness of 
Loyola's work. For Rudolf Kassner, in his fine treatise on the Elements 
of Human Greatness, has very rightly emphasized that the greatness of 


the mystic is ultimately invalidated "because he undertakes to live with- 
out measure," whereas historical greatness is "possible only by the ap- 
plication of a common standard." It is because the exercises brought the 
interior conversion of man within the bounds of a system within the 
reach of everybody, rationalized religious experience and adapted it to 
the general standard, that the sntall group of the elect gave place to the 
military-disciplined Compania de Jesus. 

He who peruses the Exercises for the first time will declare in aston- 
ishment that the book is a collection of contradictory rules, instructions, 
observations, annotations and additions. Even if you refrain from com- 
paring this peculiar work with the inspired writings of the great mystics 
or with the skilled rhetoric of the humanists, it appears unusually dry 
and dull. The Whole construction seems by no means clear ; many parts 
entirely pass the comprehension, and, owing to the lack of style, the lan- 
guage fails to impress. 

This judgment, however, holds good only so long as the Exercises is 
considered merely as a literary work. It is not until the exercises are per- 
formed that these contradictory provisions acquire their real meaning, 
and the diverse instructions with their countless additions unite to form 
a living whole. 

In the exercises, everything depends on the "living art" of the master 
of the exercises ; these rules must be "given" aright, and the practical 
delivery of the exercises must assist the written word. The first pro- 
mulgator of the exercises could say with justice: "This book is not in- 
tended for those who merely read, but for those who wish to do." 

When the Jesuits began their activities, their Protestant opponents 
saw in the Exercises a work of the Devil: they spoke of "secret, 
magic arts, by which the Jesuits on certain days bring strange things to 
pass, in special apartments from which, after the performance of the 
magic, they return pale as though haunted by a spirit." At the same 
time, a Calvinistic preacher declared in all seriousness : "The Jesuits lead 
many astray to strange practices, which they call Exercises. The victims, 
so it is credibly reported, are intoxicated by steam and other means, so 
that they think they have seen the Devil in person, bellow like bulls, 
forswear Christ and serve the Devil." 

Later, however, and especially in our time, even Protestant investi- 
gators have been unable to continue to ignore the historical significance 
of the Exercises. The Protestant scholar, Heinrich Boehmer, for in- 
stance, has said that the Spiritual Exercises of Loyola is to be regarded 
as a veritable "book of human destiny." 


The "Living Art" of the Exercises 

There is, indeed, no other work of Catholic literature which, for its 
historical effect, can be compared with Ignatius's little book. Soon the 
Exercises won recruits throughout the whole Catholic Church. Not only 
Jesuits, but numerous secular clergy, princes of the Church, scholars 
and laymen in the most various positions, performed the exercises, and 
the system had the most powerful effect on all types : doubters recovered 
through it their faith, pleasure-seeking children of the world, famous 
scholars and influential personalities were moved to repentance. In the 
most distant lands, the Exercises raised up apostles of Christianity, and 
many a European prince became, through the exercises, a devoted cham- 
pion of the Catholic cause. 

The exercises were introduced into Germany by the first Jesuit mis- 
sioner, Peter Faber, and at once spread widely among the people, espe- 
cially in South Germany; up to the middle of the eighteenth century 
Munich still needed an "exercise house" of its own. In France, again, 
Vannes in Brittany became the centre of the cult, and two thousand per- 
sons performed the exercises there each year. 

Even the suppression of the Society of Jesus in the year 1773 did not 
bring with it the decay of the practice of the exercises, and, when the 
restored order took up its work again, it could attach itself at once to a 
still living tradition. The expulsion of the Jesuits from Germany led to 
the founding of numerous "exercise houses" in Holland ; one after an- 
other the famous houses of Steyl, Blijenbeck, Exaeten and Valkenburg 
were set up, all intended primarily for German exercitants. The Jesuit 
colonies in Luxemburg and Vorarlberg were no less active. 

It is true that, in the course of the centuries, the spiritual exercises 
have undergone great changes, and the form in which they are usually 
given today differs considerably from the original version. A way which 
is to be accessible to everyone must be adapted from time to time to 
constantly changing conditions and to the individual requirements 
of the exercitants. Ignatius himself enjoined that the provisions of 
the Exercises should always be adapted to the grasp of each individ- 
ual, and that the fullest possible regard should always be had to the in- 
dividuality of the person concerned. It was often found desirable, even 
in the early days, to shorten the exercises, and thereby the original 
scheme of the exercises was sacrificed for the sake of popularizing their 

Most significant, perhaps, is a precept from the Directory issued by 


Ignatius, a collection of instructions for the "exercise master," which 
states that the spiritual director must always adapt the exercises "to the 
age, capacity and powers of those who desire to undertake them" ; and 
that he should "never lay too heavy a burden on a too little enlightened 
spirit or a too weak heart." 

Quite soon, too, the need for more detailed explanations became ap- 
parent, and Ignatius himself did not overlook the necessity for providing 
a commentary on the Exercises. The three "Directories" which he him- 
self attempted to compile for this purpose, however, remained incom- 
plete, and accordingly, at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of 
the seventeenth centuries, the general of the order, Acquaviva, arranged 
for the compilation of the voluminous Directorium in exercitia spiri- 
tualia, which is still in use today. 

Whereas in the sixteenth century attention was mainly directed to 
those who wielded temporal and spiritual power, to the princes and high 
ecclesiastics on whom at that time the people's weal and woe depended, 
at the present time the exercises are directed mainly to the organized 
masses of the Catholic proletariat, whose conquest promises considerable 
political influence. 

The Belgian Jesuit, J. Watrigant, was one of the first to emphasize 
the great importance of creating a cult of the exercises among the 
workers, and indeed it is in Belgium that the Jesuits have achieved their 
greatest success among the Catholic proletariat. In England, too, the 
Jesuits have their Catholic Workers' College at Oxford, which aims 
especially at training leaders for the Catholic workers' movement, and 
thus at attaining influence in the British trade unions. 

"Our aim is," announced the Jesuits some years ago at an "Exercise 
Conference," "to lay hold on the whole of the working classes by a 
systematic far-reaching movement. We want to create an efficient lay 
apostolate, and so to introduce practical Christianity into families and 
associations, into workplaces, offices and factories, and into the whole 
of public life." 

In order to accomplish this, many alterations had to be made in the 
substance of the Exercises, so that a modern public should not take 
offence at antiquated images and prescriptions. In this, the Jesuits have 
been true to their principle of always adapting themselves to given cir- 
cumstances, and have not hesitated to make certain amendments to 
Ignatius's text. One of the most interesting proposals in this connexion 
comes from the German Jesuit, Father Robert von Nostitz, who at the 
Innsbruck Conference, in 1924, told his colleagues to drop the compari- 


son used by Ignatius between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of 
a temporal prince. 

"Everything in any way connected with the feudal system is of interest 
to us, but it is old history. Is it not an anachronism to think that such 
antiquities can inspire today? . . ." Father Nostitz therefore proposed 
to modify the parable of the earthly king, by substituting in the place of 
the "king" a type of leader likely to meet present-day demands. 

Nowadays, the most modern technical methods are employed to assist 
the psychological effect ; the Catholic Evidence Guild in London, for in- 
stance, in connexion with their numerous lectures on the Exercises, some 
of which are held in the open air in Hyde Park, employ the cinemato- 
graph for the representation of the passion of Christ. 

It is not astonishing that the many compromises which the course of 
time has necessitated have not succeeded in giving any more definiteness 
to the form of the exercises. The inevitable shortcomings of a system 
that has to adapt itself continually to changing times are clearly appar- 
ent. The exercises have always been considered from the point of view 
of practical use, and in consequence have remained as incomplete and 
imperfect as anything must be which is influenced by the constant 
changes and chances in life. 

The "Corpse-Like Obedience" , 

The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Loyola's second great 
work, presents the logical conclusion of the principles laid down in the 
Exercises; it regulates the structure of the order in such a way that the 
activities of the whole Society of Jesus stand to the exercises of the in- 
dividual exercitants in the same relation as the operations of an army 
stand to the exercises of the individual soldiers. 

Constructed on the same principle, dominated by the same spirit, the 
Exercises and the Constitutions are the harmonious complements of each 

In the Exercises, Christ appears to man as a world-conquering Cap- 
tain calling His followers to battle. He who would obey this call must not 
remain a mere pious enthusiast, but must become a determined champion 
of the Kingdom of God. All the soldiers of Christ won over by the Ex- 
ercises must join up in a strong, military formation, and Suarez was 
speaking in this sense when he said that the Society of Jesus represented 
a company of soldiers. Where "duty" in the military sense is concerned, 
as it is in the Society of Jesus, obedience becomes the highest virtue, as 


it is in the army. The Jesuit renders this obedience primarily to his su- 
perior, for behind this superior, with all his human shortcomings, he 
sees the image of the Saviour, and he submits to him as if he were 
Christ Himself. 

The thirty-first rule of the 'Constitutions reads : "For progress, it is 
above all things profitable that everyone render complete obedience, 
regarding the superior, whoever he may be, as the representative of Our 
Lord Christ, and according him inward love and reverence." 

In a letter to the members of his order, which has become famous, 
Ignatius wrote : "Through the man, regard Him to Whom you render 
obedience, that is to say Christ, the Supreme Wisdom, Eternal Good and 
Love, the Lord, of Whom you know that He can neither err nor be 

It is because the Jesuit always perceives the Divine Person in his su- 
perior, that obedience is for him a kind of unio mystica with the will of 
God. Accordingly, when the Jesuits talk of obedience, their language 
recalls the terminology of mysticism. "He who will attain to true obedi- 
ence must put off his own will, and put on the divine will, which will be 
placed upon him by his superior." 

For, as the mystics see the highest form of perfection in union with 
God, in the complete extinction of the ego, so the Jesuits seek to attain 
to God through "blind obedience" and the sacrifice of the will. St. John 
of the Cross says that in obedience the human will conforms to the divine 
will, and the human soul to the Divine. 

The contradiction is, therefore, apparent rather than real, when the 
Jesuits preach on the one hand the saving might of free will and on the 
other unconditional obedience; for only he whose will is free is able to 
surrender it on his own account to the service of an ideal. 

Belief in the saving might of obedience is rooted deep in a psychologi- 
cal principle of human nature: in it, the ancient tie between father and 
child finds a living embodiment. It is not for nothing that in all these 
religious relationships of authority and subordination, the superior is 
known as "father"; in obeying his superior, the man becomes a son, 
with a child's belief in authority. So, for the Jesuits too, the Pater Su- 
perior stands in the place of God the Father, the final and general "father- 
image." This explains the unconditional nature of the obedience required, 
commanded and practised by the Jesuits. 

Ignatius distinguishes carefully the various grades of obedience. The 
lowest stage, the purely external "obedience in deed," consists in this, 
that the subordinate confines himself to accomplishing what is required 


of him; this obedience Ignatius describes as "very imperfect." The sec- 
ond stage is distinguished by the subordinate's making his superior's will 
his own will : "at this stage there is already joy in obedience." But he who 
desires to offer himself wholly to the service of God must "bring not 
only his will but his intelligence." He must reach the stage where "he not 
only wishes the same, but thinks the same as the superior, and submits 
his judgment to that of his superior so far as only the surrendered will 
can sway the intellect." 

Herein, Ignatius requires nothing less than the complete sacrifice of the 
man's own understanding, "unlimited obedience even to the very sacri- 
fice of conviction" ; it is significant that he adds here : "So may Abraham 
well have felt, when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac." 

Quite apart from overt opposition, the Jesuit must never indulge in 
any interior questionings whether his superior is in the right. He must 
be utterly convinced that whatever he is commanded to do will promote 
"the greater glory of God," and he must obey joyfully, with zealous en- 

The unconditional nature of Jesuit obedience immediately leads to a 
difficult problem : what is to happen when the superior demands the per- 
formance of a sinful action ? Are his instructions to be carried out in 
that case? Almost all the opponents of the Jesuits maintain that "obedi- 
ence unto sin" is actually enjoined by the Jesuits, while the apologists 
of the order categorically deny it. 

Now it is the general teaching of the Catholic Church that in no case 
may a man commit a sin, not even if he should be commanded to do so 
by his temporal or ecclesiastical superior; and Ignatius, too, when he 
enjoins obedience, adds the proviso that manifest sin is excluded from 
the obligation. Suarez, the great theorist of Jesuitism, expressly declares 
that obedience always assumes "the lawfulness of the object." 

The Constitutions, in common with the rules of all other religious 
orders, accords the subordinate the right "to make discreet remon- 
strances," when there appears to be a danger of sin. Ignatius himself 
made express provision for this, and at a later date the general of the 
order, Acquaviva, likewise laid down that the superior must always give 
his subordinate the opportunity to raise his objections, "so that every- 
thing may be done in a mild, paternal spirit." 

These provisions, however, have not appeased the opponents of the 
order, who maintain that the fundamental suppression of private judg- 
ment does away with any possibility of seriously examining a command ; 
Ignatius, indeed, utters a warning against questioning or doubting 







PL, 5 


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whether a command is expedient and will lead to good. Actually, the 
duty of "blind obedience" is limited only by such reservations as ad quos 
potest cum caritate se oboedientia extendere. The constitutions of the 
order expressly require that the subordinate should have "the will and 
judgment of the superior as the standard for his own will and judg- 
ment" ; perfect obedience is blind, and "in this blindness its wisdom and 
perfection" consist. 

"Though the other religious orders," Ignatius writes, "may surpass 
us in fastings and night-watchings and other severities of food and rai- 
ment, our brothers must take precedence in true and perfect obedience, 
in the voluntary renunciation of private judgment." 

Great renown has been achieved by a pronouncement of Loyola 
which is found in a similar form in the Exercises, and from which the 
phrase the "corpse-like obedience" of the Jesuits has presumably been 
derived : "Altogether, I must not desire to belong to myself, but to my 
Creator and to His representative. I must let myself be led and moved 
as a lump of wax lets itself be kneaded, must order myself as a dead man 
without will or judgment, as a little crucifix which lets itself be moved 
without difficulty from one place to another, as a staff in the hand of an 
old man, to be placed where he will and where he can best make use of 
me. Thus I must always be ready to hand, so that the order may use me 
and apply me in the way that seems to it good. . . ." 

The command to blind obedience, which is emphasized so much in the 
Jesuit order, of itself signified no revolutionary innovation in the Catho- 
lic Church. Obedience was already numbered among the three "evan- 
gelical counsels" said to have been delivered to mankind by Christ Him- 
self : poverty, chastity and obedience, according to the words of the New 
Testament, are virtues which although not necessary to salvation are 
certainly commendable. 

In the early days of the Christian Church, obedience always formed 
the most important foundation of all monastic communities. Basil, the 
founder of Eastern monasticism, proclaims in his rule that the member 
of the order must be in the hand of his superior "as an ax in the hand 
of a woodcutter" ; Benedict of Nursia, again, requires his disciples to 
submit themselves obediently in all things to their superior. In the rule 
of the Carthusians, it is laid down that the monk must offer up his will 
"as a sheep to the slaughter," and the Carmelites hold any opposition to 
the command of a superior to be a grievous sin. 

But it is Francis of Assisi, in particular, who enjoins unconditional 
obedience on his disciples ; it was he who said that a brother must regard 


himself "like as a corpse, which receives life and spirit through the 
Spirit of God by harbouring obediently the will of God." 

Finally, those teachers of the late Middle Ages, under whose influ- 
ence Ignatius became the founder of an order, glorified obedience in 
nearly all their writings. "Is it anything of account," writes Garcia de 
Cisneros, "that you, who are dust and a very nothing, should submit 
yourself to a man for God's sake, when I, the Almighty and the Supreme, 
Who created all things out of nothing, submitted Myself humbly to man 
for your sake? Learn therefore to obey and show yourself so submissive 
and small that everyone may walk over you and tread you down as 
mud in the street. . . ." 

The idea that a man should see God Himself in his superior had al- 
ready been expressed by Augustine and by Bernard of Clairvaux, while 
Bonaventura declared that it was "more meritorious for the sake of 
God to obey a man than God direct." 

But, while other orders insisted on obedience, obedience had always 
served with them merely as a means of ascetic discipline, of regulating 
penitential works for the mortification of man's earthly nature : prayer, 
watchings and flagellations. 

Basil, in his Sermo de institutione monachorum, said that the inten- 
tion of the monastic life was to give the monk the opportunity to concern 
himself, in quiet seclusion, with the salvation of his soul. In accordance 
with this conception, even the works of charity and brotherly love per- 
formed by the Benedictines and the Franciscans outside the walls of the 
cloister always remained merely instrumenta bonorum operum; they 
were designed to facilitate the monk's own salvation. 

The same thing holds good for the freer communities of the late Mid- 
dle Ages, such as the Flemish "Brothers of Common Life" ; their most 
famous representative, Thomas a Kempis, says that he always felt a dim- 
inution of his spiritual purity so soon as he put his foot outside the 
cloister. All these men aspired to nothing except that withdrawal from 
the world which had been practised by the very first monastic orders on 
the banks of the Nile. 

The Jesuits, however, set themselves a totally different task: they 
were not satisfied with accomplishing their own salvation; their most 
fervent efforts were directed towards inspiring sinful humanity outside 
the cloister with the spirit of Christ, and winning them for God. 

In consequence, obedience assumed with the Jesuits an entirely new 
meaning ; it was concerned with external activities, united, clear-sighted 
action, and it played the same part as it plays in military service. The 


members of this order who went out into the world, to preach and to 
conduct their campaign in the most distant lands, had to be united with 
each other and with the central, directing power of the order, by a 
discipline of iron. 

"When an army is widely scattered," it is written in the eighth para- 
graph of the Constitutions, "the separate detachments must be in touch 
with one another and with the commander-in-chief ... so that the 
same spirit, the same aim and the same endeavours may prevail through- 
out." Similarly, the paragraph continues, the Society of Jesus requires 
a corporate organization, based on obedience, if it is not to depart from 
its original spirit and lose its fighting powers. 

The supreme leader of the Jesuit order, who bears the title of General, 
exercises an authority which is unique. It is true that the mendicant 
orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, already had their generals ; but 
the government of the friaries was actually left to the individual chap- 
ters, whereas in the Society of Jesus it is the general alone who, at his 
own pleasure, appoints the other officers ; he is answerable only to the 
General Congregation, which can depose him in case of grave misde- 

There is a precisely graded hierarchy of officers between the simple 
novice and the commander-in-chief. There are the "professed of the four 
vows," who form the real kernel of the order ; the newly admitted novices 
are under them, as are the lay brothers and the spiritual and temporal 
"coadjutors." The "professed houses" are governed by Superiors, who 
in their turn are under the head of the order in the province, the Provin- 
cial. The direction and supervision of the provincials falls to the general, 
who exercises control over the provinces from time to time by specially 
appointed Visitors. 

A most active system of written reports unites the various colonies 
of Jesuits with headquarters. This lively correspondence is designed not 
least to keep headquarters constantly informed of the merits and de- 
merits of every individual member ; the superiors submit reports on the 
conduct of their subordinates, but the subordinates are empowered, and 
even obliged, to report any misdemeanour of their superiors to the high- 
est quarter. 

Without so stern a discipline and so rigid an organization, it would 
have been impossible to maintain the connexion between all members of 
the order, working in the most diverse fields ; it was the obedience of the 
Jesuits that made it possible to oppose to the enemies of the Church a 
really trained and formidable army. 


The Pyramid to God 

It is often asserted that Ignatius Loyola, who before his conversion 
was himself an officer in the Spanish army, transferred to his order the 
spirit of military subordination. Is not the unconditional obedience of 
the Jesuit identical with that military discipline which forbids the sub- 
ordinate to question why this or that is commanded him ? 

Although it is true that in the organization of the order there are many 
features reminiscent of military organization, it would be wrong to sup- 
pose that Ignatius was a mere slavish imitator of the regulations with 
which he was familiar in his military service. The parallel between the 
Jesuit and the military subordination goes much deeper, and rests on 
certain fundamental similarities between Church and army. 

Sigmund Freud, in his Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse, has ex- 
plained this connexion. He writes : "In the Church, as in the army, 
however different the two may be, the same pretence (illusion) holds 
good, that a Chief is present in the Catholic Church, Christ, in the 
army, the General who loves all the individuals of the mass with the 
same love. Everything lies in this illusion; if it were allowed to drop, 
Church and army, as far as outside forces permitted it, would fall to 
pieces at once. . . . The General is the father, loving equally each of his 
soldiers, who are therefore comrades together. . . . Every captain is 
at once the general and the father of his company ; every corporal that of 
his squad. A similar hierarchy is built up in the Church. . . ." 

Here, as there, exists the same idea of "identification," the same senti- 
mental bond with the leader, and it would therefore be untrue to regard 
the blind obedience of the Jesuits simply as an imitation of military sub- 
ordination. Its real spiritual source must be sought rather in a hierarchical 
view of the universe, in the idea of a cosmic order in which every- 
thing has its appointed place, and in which accordingly the inferior 
submits willingly to the superior. 

The idea of a hierarchical world-order has its roots deep in the founda- 
tions of human thought. Aristotle recognized that the forms of strict 
logic represented at the same time a kind of picture of the universe. All 
logical conclusions rest on the subordination of a particular minor propo- 
sition to a generally accepted major premise ; so every part of the cosmos 
is subordinate to the more general and is superior to the more particular, 
and maintains thereby its one appointed place in the universe, its locus 

The introduction of Aristotelean philosophy and logic into mediaeval 





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scholasticism, and their amalgamation with the world of Christian art, 
led to the acceptance of a peculiar hierarchical world system. The major 
premise of Aristotelean logic, becoming more and more general, led to 
a most general, an ens generalissimum, which could be nothing but God 
Himself. From God downwards, the universe descended from the par- 
ticular to the more particular, and in this gradation, according to scho- 
lasticism, a man could, as Leopold Ziegler says in his Gestaltwandel der 
Cotter, * 'always reckon and establish his position, its length, breadth and 
height, as exactly as a navigator." 

"Hierarchy above hierarchy, in most wonderful gradation, the im- 
mortal inhabitants of the spheres rise to the empyrean where the eternal 
light of grace and truth shines like fire encircling the eternal round of 
worlds. . . . While the murky airs of the sub-lunar spheres are fear- 
fully, diabolically populated with the damned, the outcast and the fallen, 
there circle on the other side of the eight revolving heavens, the choirs 
who, again divided into three hierarchies as angels, archangels and prin- 
cipalities, as powers, virtues and dominations, and as thrones, cherubim 
and seraphim, soar nearer and nearer to the Lumen gloriae" 

A man who was accustomed, in the manner of Dionysius the Are- 
opagite, to regard the world as a hierarchical pyramid rising up to God, 
of necessity saw his ethical task to be the humble accommodation of him- 
self to his own appropriate locus naturalis; indeed, everything in the 
universe from lifeless stone to archangels seemed filled with inner striv- 
ing to attain its locus naturalis, and, having once attained it, never 
again to leave it. 

But to accommodate and subordinate oneself is to obey; and thus the 
mediaeval view of the universe led quite naturally to voluntary recog- 
nition of authority, and called forth the readiness to obey. Men were 
still far from recognizing the "liberty of a Christian man," who should 
be "a free lord over all things, and subject to no one." 

In Jesuitism, the traditional conceptions of scholasticism were to sur- 
vive far beyond the Middle Ages, for Ignatius intended, through a sys- 
tem of obedience in which "the lower submits to the higher by means of 
a certain agreement and order," to imitate in his order this very har- 
monious hierarchial system of Creation. 

It is, therefore, written in his Letter on Obedience, addressed to the 
Jesuits in Portugal, that only thus can "the present subordination and 
the consequent unity and love" rest secure, "without which, in our So- 
ciety as in other spiritual communities, an ordered administration is im- 
possible. It is in this way that Creation is sweetly and lovingly governed 


by the providence of God. God has appointed the lower beings under the 
higher, the higher under the highest, everything corresponding to its 
purpose. Thus even between the individual choirs of angels there is an 
ordered relation, thus with the stars and all moving bodies, the lower 
are appointed beneath the higher, and these again beneath a highest and 
final director, by immutable laws inherent in them. The same phenome- 
non may be seen in all well-ordered states, and not least in the ecclesiasti- 
cal hierarchy, culminating in the pope as the Vicar of Christ. . . ." 

The rationalistic Catholic thinker of the nineteenth century, utterly 
devoid of this enthusiasm for the hierarchical idea, necessarily regarded 
Loyola's work with entirely different eyes. So Edgar Quinet writes that 
he sees in Loyola's Constitutions "nothing but provincials, rectors, ex- 
aminers, consulters, admonitors, procurators, prefects of spiritual things, 
prefects of health, prefects of the library, of the refectory, attendants 
and stewards. Each of these officers has his especial, his clearly defined 
and appointed task. . . . But show me among all these the Christian 
soul ! In the midst of so many offices, titles and external occupations, the 
man escapes me, the Christian is submerged." 

While this peculiar organization of the "militant disciples of Christ" 
required, on the one hand, the most rigid discipline and a carefully con- 
structed administrative organization, yet, on the other, it could not 
attain success without considerable independence of each individual mem- 
ber. For often enough the Jesuit, in a dangerous post cut off from the 
headquarters of the order, had to make rapid decisions and to act on his 
own initiative. 

From the beginning, the Society of Jesus has known how to make use 
of the personal qualities of its members, and it is in this very combination 
of discipline and individualism that the novelty of the community 
founded by Ignatius lies. 

A Jesuit might very well be "a staff in the hand of an old man" when 
his superior assigned to him a definite mission and imparted to him the 
necessary instructions ; but within the limit of his instructions he could 
display his personal initiative. For, within a short time after the founda- 
tion of the order, the Jesuits were acting as spiritual directors at the 
courts of Europe, as preachers in the most remote primeval forests, as 
political conspirators, disguised and in constant danger of death; thus 
they had a thousand opportunities to employ their talents, their clever- 
ness, their knowledge of the world, and even their cunning, "to the 
greater glory of God." 

In his regard for personal performance, Ignatius expressed an im- 


portant tendency of his time, for, with the Renaissance in Europe, in- 
dividuality had acquired a completely new value. Whatever a man may 
think of the activities of the Society, it cannot be denied that the Society 
presents an unparalleled example of the organization of the will of 
every individual to obey, an organization scattered over the whole world 
whose members act independently in their own spheres of activity; and 
at the same time, when circumstances demand it, are prepared humbly 
to obey commands. Only such an organization, combining the most rigid 
discipline with individual freedom of movement, could have made pos- 
sible the inner unity of the order and its astonishing continuity through- 
out the centuries in the face of the widest geographical dispersal ; and 
herein lies the secret of the power once exercised by the Jesuits, and 
which, to a considerable extent, they exercise today. 



His Personality and Work 

^vIEGO LAYNEZ, Loyola's pupil and successor, said that few great 

)) men had so few ideas as the founder of Jesuitism, but that still 
fewer had been more thoroughly earnest in the realization of these ideas. 

The ideas preached by Ignatius, this one-time Spanish courtier, 
brought about almost a revolution in the whole Catholic world, and, 
further, they determined to a considerable extent the whole course of 
the development of European culture, religion as well as philosophy, 
education and art, either by direct influence, or indirectly by provoking 
violent opposition. 

Prominent thinkers of modern times, such as Voltaire, Descartes and 
Diderot, in their youth were educated in the spirit of the Spanish cava- 
lier; distinguished poets, such as Moliere and Corneille, received their 
first theatrical impulses from Jesuit school dramas ; great artists were 
urged on in their work by Jesuitism ; and eminent scholars, in their zeal 
for the success of Loyola's teachings, have enriched science in all its 
branches by their researches and discoveries. 

More often than a superficial examination will reveal, we meet ob- 
vious traces of Jesuit influence in our present-day culture. Not only do 
the many monuments in the baroque style remind us of Jesuitism and its 
artistic endeavours, but many traces of Jesuitic influence also remain in 
the theatre and, above all, in the schools. It should not be overlooked that 
the advantages as well as the disadvantages of our humanist classical 
education are for the most part attributable to that pedagogic activity 
which, at one time, was spread by the Society of Jesus over all the 
countries of the world. 

However we, in our day, may judge the teachings of Loyola, illumi- 
nating them by means of subtle psychological methods, in however great 
a degree our attitude towards religious questions may have changed 
since the sixteenth century, it cannot but be acknowledged, in any criti- 
cism of Jesuitism, that Loyola's work has played an important part in 



the history of modern times. Few people, since the beginning of history, 
have conceived and thought out an idea with such utter logic as Ignatius 
Loyola did, or carried it through with such extraordinary tenacity of 
will, or so deeply affected all human thought, feeling and actions. 

In a certain sense, perhaps, our times have produced a kindred his- 
torical personality. Lenin, too, had few ideas, but these he sought to put 
into practice with an earnestness and a power equal to Loyola's. The 
doctrines of Lenin, in a manner similar to those of Loyola, seriously dis- 
turbed the peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, affecting in- 
tellectual circles in no less a degree than the lower strata of society, and 
producing great armies of submissive and obedient followers as well as 
inexorable enemies. 

These two men, the greatest zealot of the sixteenth and the greatest 
atheist of the twentieth century, approached the profound problems of 
human nature with an iron resolve, and were not contented with a few 
superficial changes, but compelled the complete subjugation and trans- 
formation, in accordance with their ideas, of the intellect, the beliefs, 
the perceptions and the desires of their followers. Both also knew the 
secret of historical efficacy, which consists in putting every theory to the 
test of practice, in creating an interplay of fancy, scientific knowledge, 
clear practical considerations and determined will, through which alone 
human nature can be mastered. No one else has ever understood to the 
same extent as Ignatius and Lenin the importance of that power which 
alone can unite thousands of people in all parts of the world into a uni- 
form and exactly functioning organization : the importance of absolute 
obedience. Both men, moreover, possessed the inflexible courage to carry 
into effect, even to its utmost consequences, a principle which they had 
once acknowledged as right, against all the remonstrances of the rest 
of men, and without regard to the protests of powerful opponents. 

Of course, an abyss separates Ignatius from Lenin. Neither the moral 
personalities nor the ideas and the aims of the two men have anything 
in common. What lies between the Catholic saint and the Socialist revo- 
lutionary is an intellectual gap of no less than four centuries ; what links 
them, however, is their insight into the deep foundations of human 
nature, which time does not change, and the immense driving-power 
of their thought. 

The materialistic conception of history notwithstanding, it cannot be 
denied that Jesuitism is for the greater part the expression of Loyola's 
personality. Not only Jesuit writers, but also such Protestant investi- 
gators as Heinrich Boehmer and Eberhard Gothein, quite rightly point 


out that Ignatius built up his order on the basis of his personal experi- 
ences, and, indeed, that he first reformed himself by means of newly 
discovered psychological methods, before he began to convert the outer 
world to his beliefs and make it subject to his will. 

Whatever Ignatius achieved, he attained as a result of much toil ; it was 
the victory of a wonderful tenacity of will. His ideas, which later were 
to have so great an effect on the whole world, did not come to him freely 
and spontaneously or without the exercise of great mental power ; they 
were not the result of the creative inspiration of genius, and, therefore, 
they lacked that stirring and illuminative power which so often charac- 
terizes other great doctrines of humanity. Loyola's inmost soul glowed 
steadily, but never burst into flame. 

From a lowly beginning, Ignatius gradually, with great care and con- 
tinual deliberation, elaboration and emendation, made his work what it 
finally became. The Exercises and Constitutions were in the same way 
the fruits of a laborious process, and testify to many decades of diligent 
and untiring industry. When Ignatius was about to introduce into the 
Constitutions of the order a new provision, he would generally withdraw 
to his cell and ponder over all the considerations for and against the 
proposed precept, and observe most strictly the effect on the state of his 
soul. Like a careful experimenter, he kept a detailed record of all his 
thoughts and perceptions. It was often a month before he was able to 
arrive at a decision in this way. Afterwards, he referred to numerous 
books, and he further tested the new rule thoroughly in practice for a 
time ; then finally he inserted it in the Constitutions. 

He used to rewrite his letters as many as twenty times before he com- 
mitted them to the post ; he did this not only with important official let- 
ters, but also with harmless private epistles to his friends and relations. 

Similarly, Ignatius deliberated over and considered the most trivial 
matter, even though it concerned only the engagement of a nurse, a 
porter or a cook. In regard to himself, he continued to the last to work 
at and extend his mastery of his feelings, his gestures, his outward ap- 
pearances, his mode of speech and his learning. He was already a fully 
grown man when he realized that his education as a youth had been of 
such a nature as to hinder him in making serious progress ; thereupon, 
despite his three-and-thirty years, he sat with children on the school 
benches, and sought to acquire the rudiments of Latin grammar. Once 
even, he threw himself down before his teacher, and requested earnestly 
that he might be punished with the rod before the rest of the scholars if 
he should show any lack of necessary zeal for learning^ Still later, when, 


on account of his sermons from the Roman pulpit, he had already ex-^) 
cited much admiration, he did not disdain to request his youngest pupil, / 
Ribadeneira, to call his attention to any errors in his use of the Italian | 
language. "Watch me closely when I speak," he said humbly, "and take 4 ^ 
note of everything that is not correct, so that you may improve my J 

Few great men in history have accomplished such great work as he, 

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studies, he was attacked by all sorts and kinds of "new spiritual knowl- 
edge and sensations," which rendered him incapable of busying himself 
seriously with his words and phrases. By degrees, however, he became 
accustomed to interpret each inopportune apparition or illumination as a 
"temptation," for ne was firmly convinced that God would never hinder 
one of his servants in the performance of a pious work or in the execu- 
tion of a really useful project. 

For a time in Manresa, he had to struggle against an agony of tor- 
ments of conscience, against a sudden attack of scrupulousness, which 
almost reduced him to despair. In vain did he confess at frequent inter- 
vals, and included in the list of his transgressions sins he had already 
expiated ; in vain did he delve and endeavour to remember trivial offences 
against the divine precepts. In spite of all this, he fell deeper into the most 
utter uncertainty. 

One day, depressed and wearied by this continual conflict of mind, he 
cried out in despair : "Help me, O Lord, for there is no help in man, nor 
do I find succour in any creature ! Show me where I might seek help and 
find it ; even if I must run after a dog in order to be saved by him, I 
would certainly do it !" 

He came to the verge of suicide, and once nearly threw himself over 
a precipice ; resisting this mood at the last moment, however, he became 
conscious of the fact that God had forbidden suicide. 

It was a long time before he was able to master this agony of con- 
science, but, when he did succeed, he was able, as no other has done, to 
command all the movements of his inner life and at all times to control 
his soul and regulate its working. His experience of perilous abysses dur- 
ing his stay in Manresa, together with his all-conquering will, finally led 
him to that knowledge of the human soul which made him appear so 
wonderful in his later years. 

He was at last able to keep in check the creations of his imagination, 
once so unbridled, as well as his feelings of sorrow and jubilation; he 
succeeded in transforming himself so completely that, in the course of 
years, he became a quite different person with other thoughts and feelings. 

Each action and each emotion had at last its prescribed period : mass 
should not occupy more than half an hour, and a sand-glass was at hand 
in order that this time should not be exceeded. He permitted himself 
"illuminations" only during mass, and even the tears of emotion and 
commotion were not to him simply an unchecked gratia lacrimarum as in 
the earlier days of his transformation; he wept now only when it ap- 
peared to him appropriate for reasons of inner discipline. In one of his 


diaries, he used to note down these torrents of tears, and, as it were, 
measure their intensity and duration, whether the tears were few or a 
"storm of tears with sobbing." 

Each practical rule of the Exercises, each direction for the production 
of definite representations and for the removal of others, had its origin 
in Loyola's personal experience. The entirely subjective origin of the 
Exercises on the basis of his own knowledge shows itself all the more 
distinctly when a careful comparison is made between his life and his 
work ; moreover, Ignatius himself expressly admitted this in a statement 
he made to his disciple Gonzales. 

"He said to me," Gonzales writes, "that he had not written the Ex- 
ercises all at the one time ; he had kept a written record of some things 
which he had observed in his inner life, the usefulness of which he had 
recognized, and which appeared to him to be of value to others." Ribade- 
neira, too, Loyola's first biographer, reported that Loyola had compiled 
his Spiritual Exercises "on the basis* of a precise observation of what 
had happened in himself." 

The writers of the order, especially the Spanish Jesuits, have often 
tried to represent the composition of the Exercises as a miracle which 
cannot be explained in a natural way, and to attribute the origin of the 
work to the direct inspiration of the Virgin Mary. They support this 
contention by the circumstance that in Manresa Ignatius had no kind of 
knowledge of theology, and, therefore, it cannot be understood how he 
could have been in a position to compose this masterpiece without heav- 
enly aid. ^ 

On the other hand, many historians, especially in Beneaictine and 
Protestant circles, have endeavoured to prove that the Exercises were 
in the main little more than a copy of the writings of earlier ascetics and 
mystics. In particular, the book of spiritual exercises by the Benedictine 
abbot, Garcia de Cisneros, Ludolphus of Saxony's Vita Christi and the 
Imitation of Christ of Thomas a Kempis, have been cited, and obvious 
similarities in these works and in Loyola's Spiritual Exercises have been 

But both the legends of the supernatural origin of the Exercises and 
the critical examination of the text to prove its lack of originality are 
contradicted by the close relationship between Loyola's little book and 
his own personal experiences. Of course, books contributed much towards 
Loyola's particular development, but it would be erroneous to regard 
the Exercises merely as the fruits of his reading. The result of a life so 
rich in profound agitation can never be understood, if it is sought 


to attribute his work to the influence of a few books or documents. 

On the other hand, however, a closer consideration of the history of 
the Exercises destroys all notion of its miraculousness : it is true that 
Ignatius at that time knew but few books, but it cannot therefore be 
maintained that he was totally in ignorance of mystic and spiritual mat- 
ters, and that consequently he had to depend on supernatural inspiration. 

The books which Ifiigo read in his castle, on Montserrat and in Man- 
resa, including both the Vita Christi of the Carthusian monk, Ludol- 
phus of Saxony, and the Imitatio Christi of the Netherlander, Thomas a 
Kempis, were all nothing but compilations from the great works of the 
mystics. This was especially the case with the Book of Exercises of the 
Benedictine monk, Garcia de Cisneros, whose purpose had been to leave 
behind him for his brethren in the cloister at Montserrat an anthology of 
all the valuable thoughts of former masters on monastic asceticism. 

Since Ignatius had thus studied these three books thoroughly, he 
acquired at the same time a knowledge of the whole mystical tradition, 
and, under these circumstances, there can be no question in his case of a 
"complete lack of education." The puzzle would appear to be solved if we 
consider, in addition to this, that the Exercises did not assume their final 
form in Manresa, but only much later, at a time when Ignatius was 
studying at the University of Paris. For in Paris he had every oppor- 
tunity of consulting the great works of scholastic divinity, and, more- 
over, in the College of Montaigu he came into close contact with the 
mystic school of the Brothers of Common Life. 

Befor* the final version of the Exercises was completed, he had, there- 
fore, already acquired the necessary familiarity with the spirit of ascetic 
mysticism, but he had hardly any need merely to copy his models, for in 
the Exercises at every turn can be discerned his own personal experiences 
and self-won knowledge. Each page of this work testifies to his own 
struggles and strivings, to his advance from an unbridled courtier and 
knight to the cold "master of affects" and to the calculating modern or- 

At the Tables of the Pious Ladies 

The beginnings of the Society of Jesus lay in a senseless and romantic 
fancy which must have seemed even to Loyola's contemporaries an im- 
practicable and "pious folly." In the same way, the means used by Loy- 
ola to carry out his plan were foolish and unworldly, yet from these 
pitiable beginnings developed the first foundations of the future uni- 
versal order. 


As liiigo, newly converted and feverishly inspired, meditated on how 
he could best join the forces of the knights of God, an alluring way was 
suddenly shown to his ignorant and clumsy soul, in which he could dis- 
tinguish himself by specially heroic deeds in the service of heaven; this 
was the adventurous idea of undertaking a journey to the Holy Land 
and reconquering it for Christendom. 

On his sick-bed in Loyola, he had read in the Vita Christi of the Car- 
thusian monk, Ludolphus of Saxony, a glorification of the holy town of 
Jerusalem, and this passage had made a deep impression on him. "Let 
us deplore," writes Ludolphus, "the neglect of Christendom in our days, 
which is provided with so many sublime models, and yet hesitates to tear 
from the hands of the enemy the earth which Christ sanctified with His 
blood. . . ." 

The great dream of the Middle Ages to win back Jerusalem, a dream 
which, since the days of Gregory the Seventh, had through centuries 
ruled Christian thought, no longer played a serious part in the higher 
politics of Loyola's time. Since Acre, the last stronghold of the crusad- 
ers, fell into the hands of the Arabs in 1291, the pope had never again 
been able to organize a new crusade. The secular princes, without whose 
support such an undertaking was impossible, now found themselves en- 
tangled in interests of quite a different nature ; indeed, there were Chris- 
tian rulers who, far from abhorring the heathen sultan as the "hereditary 
enemy of the Church," were much more concerned about winning him 
over as an ally in their wars. 

Even in the notions of the people, the idea of the capture of the Holy 
Land had at that time lost all romantic attraction. Everywhere in Eu- 
rope, there may, indeed, still have existed the lively craving for distant 
lands which had been awakened by the crusades, but the age of discov- 
eries had turned this desire for adventure into quite different channels. 
The bands of people who had once been driven to Jerusalem by fatal 
plagues and by the economic needs of Europe now found a more alluring 
goal beyond the seas. Therefore the part which Jerusalem had played 
in the struggle for the Faith was finally at an end. The Christians who 
still went to Palestine were no longer warriors in search of conquest, 
but peaceful pilgrims, whose only concern was to obtain a share in the 
many ecclesiastical favours and indulgences associated with such pil- 

But Ignatius Loyola dreamt of greater things. He wished to free the 
sanctuaries of the dominance of the false prophet, and, in this way, alto- 
gether alone, armed only with weapons of humility, to accomplish the 


work which the swords of the proud crusaders had not succeeded in 
doing. Poor and barefooted, defying all danger, he thought of journey- 
ing to Jerusalem as a "warrior knight of the faith" and there winning 
over the heathen with the weapon of the word and by an heroic example 
of martyrdom for the true Church. 

Just as romantic and unreal as this proposal were also the means with 
which he sought to realize it. The journey of this belated crusader was 
nothing more than the adventurous voyage of a fool, and his experiences 
were like those of the young prince in the fairy tale, who, thanks to his 
awkwardness, was always falling into great danger, but who was al- 
ways successful in getting out again unscathed. So it was that Ignatius, 
protected by his own foolishness, passed through encounters with pi- 
rates at sea, warlike Turks, cunning cheats, swindlers and footpads; 
scarcely would he leave a ship when it would run into difficulties at sea ; 
invariably he would lag behind the other pilgrims only to avoid thereby 
the misfortune which befell those who arrived before him; and always 
he was certain to reach his destination safe and sound. Each stage of this 
strange pilgrimage shows Ignatius as a simpleton, who unsuspectingly 
groped his way through endless dangers and adventures to his final goal, 
only at the end to stand by like a clumsy dunce while the reward of vic- 
tory slipped through his fingers. A strangely touching serenity and char- 
ity hover over this curious pilgrim, and transfigure everything that 
happened to him on his journey to and from Jerusalem. 

He had scarcely arrived at Barcelona to embark thence for Italy when 
the port was closed on account of the plague ; he was therefore forced to 
remain in a town alien to him and await the uncertain date when the 
sailings would be resumed. 

As befitted a pious pilgrim, he spent this period of inaction in zealous 
mortifications, prayer and pious visits to the prisons, hospitals, and poor- 
houses. He also appeared regularly in the cloisters, in order to engage in 
edifying conversation with the monks and nuns there ; the Cloister de las 
Jeronimas attracted him particularly, and there he busied himself in de- 
livering God-fearing and instructive discourses to the newly entered nun, 
Sor Antonia Estrada, who was well known on account of her piety. Like 
the other pious pilgrims, he obtained his subsistence by begging in the 
streets, but he presented the greater portion of the alms he received in 
this way to the poor. 

He had at that time already gathered round him a circle of women 
disciples, a host of leisured ladies from the higher ranks of society, who 
felt themselves drawn to him by pious curiosity. The first of these pa- 


tronesses, Inez Pascual, he had met when he took the road to Manresa, 
after his nightly vigil before the image of the Holy Mother on the 
mount of Montserrat. 

The peculiar appearance of the wanderer had immediately attracted 
the lively interest of this rich lady. She saw a young man of elegant build, 
clad in an excessively long sackcloth girdled with a coarse rope, with a 
calabash round his neck and a long staff in his hand. His youthful face, 
fresh and rosy, was in strange contrast to his pilgrim's clothing; this 
circumstance immediately struck the pious lady as being unusual. Inigo 
approached her with halting steps, cast his eyes modestly to the ground, 
and, in well-chosen words, which betrayed the manners of a court, in- 
quired whether there was in the neighbourhood a hospice where he could 
spend the night. From the time of this meeting, Inez Pascual was com- 
pletely won over to the God-fearing pilgrim. 

Dona Isabella Roser, his second patroness, made his acquaintance in a 
similar manner; she had likewise felt herself attracted by the peculiar 
appearance of the strange pilgrim. 

One day, absorbed in prayer in the cathedral at Barcelona, she had, on 
glancing up, suddenly noticed a beggar in the grey frock of a penitent, 
kneeling on the steps of the altar, his right foot in the hempen shoe of 
the country, his left foot bare. Some compulsion made her stare for so 
long at the strange man that she almost believed she saw a curious light 
above his head and heard a voice which murmured : "Speak to him 
speak to him !" 

Soon numerous other ladies of rank in the town associated themselves 
with Inez Pascual and Isabella Roser. On account of their attachment to 
Ignatius, this band were soon called in jest the "Ifiigas." Inez Pascual 
gave Ignatius lodging; he slept at night in her house on the hard floor, 
after he had scourged himself bloodily the whole evening; during the 
day, he spent many hours in devout prayer ; after that he went begging, 
and returned towards evening with some money, and, if the wooden 
grill before Senora Pascual's cotton-goods shop was closed, he used to 
present his possessions through the grating to the poor people gathered 

Ignatius required very little for his own personal needs. His raiment 
consisted of his penitential garments, a gourd round his neck, and shoes 
of bast on his feet ; he scarcely ate or drank, and allowed the rich and pi- 
ous ladies to supply him with those things which were necessary. As was 
customary in those days, these good souls competed for the presence of 
the pilgrim at their tables, in order to have devout discussions with him. 


There he sat in the midst of the pious ladies, for the most part in si- 
lence, listening only to the conversation. Then he would speak of God, 
of salvation and of the thoughts that had come to him during his prayers 
or while he was reading devotional books. Thus he passed the whole of 
his stay in Barcelona, until the plague was at an end, and the sailings 
were resumed. 

Then one day he casually told the host of ladies who crowded round 
him that he had to leave them for a time, as God had now shown him 
his way and he had already secured a place on a small brigantine for the 
voyage to Italy. 

The devout women received this news in dismay, and implored him 
anxiously to give up his intention. They said that one so holy and so 
helpless in worldly matters ought not to expose himself to the dangers 
of such a journey. And when he replied to their objections that it was 
the immutable will of God that he should undertake the journey, they 
besought him to take with him a companion conversant with the Italian 

He refused this request, however, declaring that he took as his com- 
panions only faith, hope and charity. The women wished at least to 
present the pilgrim with food, cushions and rugs, so that he should lack 
nothing on the way. Ignatius must, however, have noticed with pain, in 
the midst of these protestations of love which were being showered upon 
him on all sides, how little these good ladies understood him, and how 
difficult it was for rich women really to comprehend the omnipotence of 
God. Others, in their imperfect trust in God, might provide themselves 
with money for travelling and with pillows and rugs, but to him nothing 
more than a firm faith was necessary on his journey. With modest pride 
he refused all assistance, for he desired to set out to reconquer the Holy 
Land in the manner of the saints of whom he had read poor and bare- 
footed, clad in penitential garments, with a pilgrim's staff and gourd. 

"For the mercy of God" the captain of the ship had given Ifiigo his 
passage free, and the food for the voyage he begged in the streets of 

The Travels and Adventures of a Fool 

Without a groat in his pocket, sick and half-starved, Ifiigo eventually 
arrived in Rome, after a stormy voyage and adventurous wanderings 
on foot. At Rome, he had to obtain the necessary papal passes for his 
journey to Jerusalem. His pale face and his ragged clothes made so piti- 


able an impression that the members of the Spanish colony in Rome were 
ashamed of their countryman, and, in order to avoid any scandal, they 
energetically pressed their assistance on him. 

When he departed for Venice a few days later, with the pope's bless- 
ing and the necessary documents, the Spaniards compelled him to accept 
some gold pieces to make his difficult journey easier. He was hardly out 
of sight of these hidalgos before he presented nearly the whole of this 
amount to the first beggar he met. 

Now he had to wander about without food for days at a time. His way 
led through pest-ridden areas, through towns and villages which ap- 
peared totally deserted. Those who were unable to flee locked themselves 
in their houses, and if they went into the street, they hurried along with 
cloths soaked in vinegar before their noses. Ifiigo's wan and emaciated 
features awakened suspicion everywhere. The people fled before him, 
and closed their houses to him, so that he often wandered for days with- 
out obtaining either alms or lodgings. 

Notwithstanding this, he finally reached Chioggia, from which town 
he hoped to cross over to Venice. But, on his arrival, he was informed 
that nobody could enter the city of lagoons without a medical certificate. 
Such certificates, however, were only issued by the health authorities in 
Padua. The other travellers who were in Chioggia immediately hastened 
to Padua, while Inigo gave up the idea of doing this owing to his weari- 
ness. Left behind by the others, he laid himself down in the open and fell 

The next day, while the other travellers were waiting for their certifi- 
cates in Padua, he set out on his way to Venice, and the plague guards al- 
lowed him to enter the town without any difficulty whatever. This seemed 
a miracle to him ; actually, however, the Great Council had, in spite of the 
danger of infection, only that day suspended the quarantine for the period 
of the great spring fair, in order not to prejudice trade and foreign com- 

The Venetian nobles were above all good business men, and they knew 
that the existence of their town depended on unrestricted commerce. The 
pious pilgrims who came every year to Venice at the time of the fair, and 
thence travelled to the Holy Land, brought considerable business to the 
Venetian merchants. At such times, the hostels for foreigners increased 
the prices for their rooms, the provision dealers were able to dispose of 
their stocks of sausages, wine, cheese, sugar, aniseed and licorice, the 
drapers sold large quantities of sheets, rugs and pillows, and business in 
other trades was also brisk ; travellers before leaving Venice had to pro- 















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vide themselves with all the things they required, from kettles, pots, pans 
and dishes to candles, tinder-boxes and pails. 

Particularly, however, the rich ship-owners did good business at this 
time. The pilgrims, ignorant of the ways of the world, with their in- 
domitable and pious desire to reach the holy places with all possible speed, 
were by far the most acceptable passengers. They could be herded into the 
dark and fetid holds of great merchantmen overladen with bales of 
wares, and for such accommodation the ship-owners demanded the high- 
est prices. 

The pilgrims bargained eagerly with the ship-owners in the Piazza di 
San Marco and in the hostelries over the price of the voyage. One mas- 
ter required ninety ducats, another asked a lower figure, while, on vessels 
which were quite cheap, a place could be obtained for as little as sixty 

For a while Ifiigo listened in astonishment to the embittered argu- 
ments of his fellow-travellers, and then passed quietly on his way like 
one who was not concerned with all this. He had neither eighty nor sixty 
ducats ; he had hardly any money at all, and he would need the aid of 
Providence to enable him to get to Jerusalem. Immediately on his arrival 
in Venice, God had provided a lodging for him ; while the other pilgrims 
obtained shelter at high prices and were accommodated six at a time in 
the small and dirty rooms of the inns, he had quietly laid his bed under 
the arcades of the Piazza di San Marco and was found there by a rich 
senator, to whose palace he was taken and by whom he was given princely 
apartments and entertainment. 

Now that he had left those pilgrims who were haggling over the cost of 
the voyage, he was not troubled as to how he was going to reach the Holy 
Land, and in fact he presently met among that throng of people an old 
acquaintance, a rich Spanish merchant, who immediately declared that 
he would use his influence with the doge in order to obtain for Ignatius a 
free passage for the journey. The doge received the merchant and his 
protege with the greatest kindness, and, as the new Venetian governor 
was just about to depart in a large ship for Cyprus, the doge, without a 
moment's hesitation, permitted Ifiigo to take a place in the following of 
this functionary, and so he set off at the cost of the state and on a stout 
and spacious vessel into the bargain. 

The wise Caliph Haroun al-Raschid, despite his reverence for Mo- 
hammed the Prophet, had appreciated the advantages of foreign inter- 
course, and, consequently, he had concluded a treaty with Charlemagne, 
under which Christians were freely allowed to visit the holy shrines in 


Palestine on payment of suitable dues. And during the era of Christian 
domination, the order of the Templars had organized the pilgrim traffic, 
and had made fantastic profits out of money-changing. When the cru- 
sades had come to an end, the Turkish rulers again fell back on the old 
treaty, for the money of the pilgrims seemed of sufficient importance for 
them to allow the detested Christians to enter the country. The pilgrims, 
therefore, were again able to visit the holy places which were under Turk- 
ish rule, and there make their devotions ; indeed, an intricate organization 
had been elaborated to deal with this influx of pilgrims, and every step, 
every genuflexion and every devout motion was made to yield a profit for 
the local authorities. 

When a ship had cast anchor at Jaffa, and the pilgrims, deeply affected 
by their first glimpse of the Holy Land, had sung their "Te Deum," a 
Turkish official, accompanied by several soldiers armed with guns and 
bows, immediately appeared on board to examine the papers of the travel- 
lers and to collect the taxes demanded. Scarcely had the pilgrims set foot 
on land, and, enraptured and overcome by the greatness of this moment, 
had fervently kissed the holy ground, when they were surrounded by 
mounted soldiers, and, like a herd, were driven into a filthy cellar; there 
they were forced to wait, closely penned, until such time as the dragoman 
had paid to the Emir of Ramleh the passenger dues required. 

When this was done, they appeared before six aged Turks with flow- 
ing beards reaching to the floor, and there they each stated their rank, 
name, father's name and origin, and, after this, on payment of the appro- 
priate fee, they were each supplied with an Arabian passport. 

Mounted on mules which had been hired at excessive prices, and 
escorted by soldiers, who, on the way, acquired the stores of wine and 
food of the travellers, at first by entreaty and then by threatening them 
with the butts of their guns, the pilgrims set out for Jerusalem. In 
Ramleh, they were driven into a dirty stable, where they were handed 
over to a host of importunate dealers until the tax which would enable 
them to continue on their way had been paid. 

Finally, at the gate of Jerusalem, there was a further examination of 
their belongings with a corresponding payment, and, from then on, the 
fate of the pilgrims was in the hands of the monks of the Franciscan 
monastery on Mount Zion ; these monks had their arrangements with the 
Turkish governor, and made themselves responsible for the board, lodg- 
ing and behaviour of the pilgrims. 

In the monastery, they were at once given a hearty breakfast, carpets, 


cushions and bread and wine. After the violent, heathen methods of col- 
lection of the well-armed Turks, the humble manner in which the monks 
asked for the customary five ducats a day must have seemed to the pil- 
grims like an expression of Christian charity. 

At last, the great moment came, when, having arrived at the end of 
their difficult journey, they were to look upon the holy places ; before this, 
however, a Franciscan came amongst them, and repeated in Latin, Italian 
and German a number of instructions which had already been impressed 
upon them on the ship. They must guard against going out alone, against 
entering Mohammedan tombs, against crowding forward unbecomingly 
when visiting sacred places, against disputes and laughter. They must 
abstain from scribbling on the walls of the Holy Sepulchre with red chalk 
or with charcoal, as the unbelievers looked upon this with dreadful scorn. 

Together with some twenty pilgrims, Germans, Swiss, Dutchmen and 
Spaniards, Ifiigo had succeeded in reaching Jerusalem. He had always, 
at the critical moment, found somebody to pay the dragoman, the emir, 
the soldiers, and passport examiners, the dealers, and the monks for him. 

He was now in line with the others, and, holding his burning candle 
firmly in the hand, he accompanied them from one holy place to another. 
Everywhere he listened devoutly to the explanations of the monks, who 
at each place intoned an edifying song, and then rapidly explained the 
significance of the holy shrine, and how many indulgences it would bring 
to the pilgrims because they had visited it. 

In accordance with a long-tried system, the Franciscans took those un- 
der their protection round the town and its environs, and showed them 
the post at which Christ was scourged, the house in which Mary died, the 
place where Abraham sacrificed Isaac, the houses of Simon the leper, of 
the beggar Lazarus, of Herod, and of Saint Anne, without mentioning 
numerous other remarkable sights of lesser interest. 

The devout wonder of the pious pilgrims, however, reached its climax 
when they stood before the marble church which contained the Holy 
Sepulchre. One after the other, their candles burning in their hands, they 
entered the dome-shaped room through a low and narrow gateway ; from 
this room the heavens could be seen through an opening in the roof in 
the form of a cross. 

At last, Inigo stood on that consecrated spot to which he had been so 
strongly attracted as he lay on his sick-bed in his native castle. In the 
glimmer of nine hanging lamps he saw the grey tomb of the Saviour ris- 
ing from the rough rock ; for this place the flower of Christian knight- 


hood had shed its blood ; to this place all true and pious people had of old 
made their pilgrimage. 

To the other pilgrims who crowded round the Sepulchre with him and 
heard mass and received the holy communion on that night, this must 
have been the most significant and solemn event of the whole journey, 
which, when they had returned to their native lands, they would be able 
to recount to their devout and attentive relatives. Inigo, however, in- 
tended never to leave this sacred place. He would remain there for the 
rest of his days in order to win the tomb for Christianity with the weap- 
ons of the apostles. 

The pilgrims tarried in the holy shrine until the stars which were vis- 
ible through the opening above the dome-shaped room had faded and the 
dawn broke. Then they opened the small gate again and proceeded from 
one object of interest to another ; they were shown where the Jews erected 
the Cross, where the soldiers threw dice for the clothing of Christ ; they 
saw the stone on which Christ sat while the crown of thorns was being 
placed on His head, and the fissure in the rock where the foot of the Cross 
had been fixed. 

On the Mount of Olives, the Franciscans pointed out the place where 
an angel appeared to the Virgin Mary and the place where Christ had 
preached to the apostles on the subject of the day of judgment. On en- 
tering the church on the Mount of Olives, there was to be seen a stone on 
which the imprint of the foot of Christ was still visible ; the monks ex- 
plained that it was from this stone that the Lord had ascended into 

While seeing all these sights and objects of interest, Ifiigo had not for 
a moment forgotten the true purpose of his journey, and he had already 
taken the necessary steps. Every Christian who wished to stay in Jeru- 
salem longer than the customary period had to obtain the consent of the 
Franciscans, and Inigo, soon after his arrival, had sought permission to 
remain in the Holy Land and devote himself to the conversion of the 

Up to that time, his request had not been granted, but he had no doubt 
that he would eventually receive the permission he sought. Consequently, 
he made no preparations for his departure, although the other pilgrims 
had already packed their belongings. The Franciscan provincial, Fra 
Angelo, however, sent for him, and informed him that he must immedi- 
ately leave Jerusalem with the other pilgrims. 

In a kindly manner, but with the grave explicitness of an experienced 
official, the provincial explained to him that his project was wholly im- 







practicable. It was true that the Turks allowed the pilgrims to enter the 
Holy Land, but they would not countenance any attempt at conversion. 
Others before Inigo had had similar intentions, and these had been either 
slain or taken prisoners by the fanatical Mohammedans. The provincial, 
who was responsible for peace between the Christians and the Turks, 
could neither approve nor allow this undertaking. 

Inigo was at first determined in his resolve, and cried with chivalrous 
impetuosity that he feared neither death nor slavery ; he yielded immedi- 
ately, however, when the provincial referred to a papal bull which gave 
him full authority over all Christians in Jerusalem. As an obedient war- 
rior in the army of Christ, he could not do otherwise than comply with an 
order emanating from the pope, God's terrestrial commander. 

Sadly he limped out through the Jaffa gate, his hempen shoes on his 
feet, his pilgrim's staff in his hand, and the calabash round his neck, each 
step taking him farther from the Holy City and nearer to his native 
land. Defiantly he had once set out to capture Jerusalem's holy ground ; 
now he was returning disconsolate, with a small wooden box under his 
arm, full of tiny chips of stone, small pieces of earth and flowers; these 
small souvenirs he had collected from the different holy places. This small 
box he was taking with him for the pious nun, Antonia Estrada, of the 
Convent of las Jeronimas, as a memento of his pilgrimage. 

Salvation and Perplexity 

Thus this campaign for the conquest of the Holy Land had proved 
itself to be an utter failure; but even the "band of devout souls" which 
he intended to form on his return from Jerusalem remained for a long 
time a company of immature visionaries, and still many years were to 
pass before a "Society of Jesus" was actually to arise from such romantic 

From the very start, Ignatius had not aimed merely at his own sal- 
vation; on the contrary, it was his constant preoccupation to bring about 
the "rescue" of other souls and in that way develop an apostolic activity. 

This endeavour had already been prominent in Manresa shortly after 
his conversion, and, in fact, it was the stimulus that resulted in the Ex- 
ercises. In order to be able to communicate his experiences to others, he 
had put them down in writing, and from then on, using these notes, he 
confided his exercises with a fanatical zeal for conversion to all those who 
appeared to him in any degree suitable. 

Polanco, who was later his secretary, remarks that even in Manresa he 


had instructed others in the ways and means of "purging the soul by re- 
pentance and atonement, of meditating on the life of Christ,, of making a 
good choice ... of kindling in themselves a love of God and, finally, 
of practising the various forms of prayer." But how pitiable the first ef- 
fects of this "soul-saving" by means of the exercises appeared ! The his- 
tory of the practice of the exercises, which was finally to become the 
noble and universally admired Jesuit school of the will, begins with a 
frivolous though distinguished circle of simple and hypocritical ladies. 

He himself felt no satisfaction in this society of "converted souls," 
who, indeed, were bound to him only by an entirely superficial enthusi- 
asm. He declared later that neither in Manresa nor in Barcelona did he 
find anybody whom he had been able to advance in spiritual life. 

Things became still worse when, shortly after his return from Jeru- 
salem, he left Barcelona, and went to study at the celebrated University of 
Alcala. Instead of strenuously applying his whole energy to that learning 
with which he was so unfamiliar, he spent the greater part of his time in 
gathering round him a group of disciples, for he was longing passion- 
ately to communicate to others the spiritual knowledge he had acquired 
in Manresa, and thereby to convert as many souls as possible. 

In Alcala, as elsewhere, it was chiefly the curiosity aroused by his 
strange and mysterious appearance which brought women disciples to 
him. He walked round the town barefooted and wrapped in a grey smock 
which reached to his feet, and behaved exactly like an apostle of a new 
holy sect. 

He practised the exercises with his newly acquired community in the 
chamber of the poor-house in which he had found lodgings or in a barn 
or the back room of a baker's shop. Poor women of the people it was 
who, burdened with sorrow, had gathered round him and followed his 
exercises, working women and girls, disillusioned wives, servingmaids 
and prostitutes. Subsequently, when Ignatius's following was suspected 
of heresy, the authorities examined numerous witnesses, and their state- 
ments as recorded afford us some insight into the activity of this fanati- 
cal association. 

"I have seen many married women and girls visit Ifiigo," declared the 
caretaker of the hospice. "Among these were the seventeen-year-old 
daughter of the tax-collector Isidro, the daughter of Juan de la Perra, 
who is the same age, Isabel Sanchez, who prays, Beatriz Davila, and the 
wife of the saddler Juan. So many came each day that I am no longer 
able to recall them exactly. . . . Sometimes they appeared quite early 
in the morning, but occasionally at any hour up to nightfall. . . ." 


These women regarded Ignatius as a saint, and worshipped him with a 
profound devotion. "I arrived at the house behind the Church of St. 
Francis in which Beata Isabel Sanchez lives," the Franciscan monk Rubio 
told the inquisitor, "and when I looked in at the door I noticed several peo- 
ple in the courtyard on a straw mat. A young and barefooted man was 
sitting on a chair, and before him two or three people were kneeling as 
though praying. They looked up to the young man and spoke to him, but 
I could not hear what they said. . . . Later the same evening, however, 
Beata Sanchez came to me and said : 'Father, do not take exception to 
what you have seen today ; the young man is a saint !' " 

Ignatius no longer restricted himself to edifying discourses on the 
fundamental ideas of his exercises ; on the contrary, he began systemati- 
cally to deal with individual women, and he induced them "to speak with 
him for a month," and in these conversations recall all the sins they had 
committed ; they were to delve deeply into their souls and experience anew 
everything evil which they had thought or done, and in this way over- 
come evil for all time. 

He had thus already discovered that method which made it possible to 
stir the human soul to its depths by means of systematic exercises ; but 
he still lacked the power to curb the vague strivings so aroused and to sub- 
due and master them by a judicious control. 

"He told me himself," said Maria de la Flor, who was once a prosti- 
tute, "that I should feel depressed after the second week without know- 
ing why. When after that a profound melancholy repeatedly came over 
me, and I learned from the other women that they suffered still greater 
dejection, I asked Ifiigo : 'What is it ? Where do these moods come from ?' 
Thereupon he answered : The Devil does these things to us when we en- 
ter the service of God !' One of our number even maintains that she has 
seen the Devil incarnate in the shape of an enormous black body. When 
this happened to her, I saw her sink unconscious to the ground. . . ." 

There was much fainting among the women disciples, with the excep- 
tion of those who were married ; some became unconscious as many as 
twenty times, and one lost the power of speech "on catching a glimpse of 
the Devil." Young, happy girls who used to play at ball, dress themselves 
up and enjoy themselves without restraint, flung themselves convulsed 
in frightful torment on the floor almost as soon as they began to descend 
into the depths of their souls. 

"At times, I fainted and lost consciousness," said the apprentice girl, 
Ana de Benavente, when she was examined. "Sometimes I felt such grief 
that I rolled all over the floor, and it was necessary for the others to hold 


me, and I would not be pacified. . . . Leonora, my mother's maid, had 
such fainting fits much more frequently than I, and I also saw Maria de 
la Flor, Ana Diaz and two other girls lose consciousness. . . ." 

These little apprentice girls and unfortunate women were not attracted 
to Ignatius by mere superficial devotion like the rich ladies of Manresa; 
they readily allowed him to teach them, and humbly accepted all the tor- 
ment of their descent into the "inferno of their sins." But scarcely one of 
them found a way out from that inferno, for although Ignatius knew al- 
ready how the soul should be cultivated in order that it might, with all the 
senses, see, hear, smell, taste and touch hell, it was only at a much later 
stage in his mental advancement that he was to acquire the ability to re- 
store lasting peace to feelings which had been so violently agitated. His 
activity in Alcala thus had no other result than to produce in his women 
followers accesses of esctasy and the symptoms of a very doubtful en- 

The effects on the feelings of the first male members of his following 
were no less confused. Shortly after his arrival in Alcala, four eccentric 
young men, besides the many women, had gathered round the strange 
student ; these were Calixto de Sa of Segovia, Juan de Arteaga of Estepa, 
Lope de Caceres of Catalonia, and Juan de Reinalde of Navarre. 

These young men, under Ignatius's direction, practised the spiritual 
exercises, and thereafter, so long as they kept in touch with him, they 
were his absolutely submissive tools ; in Alcala and later in Salamanca, 
they helped him assiduously in his "rescuing of souls." But this relation- 
ship did not lead so much to the formation of a true band of spiritual 
disciples as to a theatrical imitation of Loyola's external behaviour. 

Although they were all in a position to maintain themselves, under his 
influence they took pride in asking alms in the streets as beggars, and 
thus providing for their existence. Contrary to all the customs of the 
university, they wore the same striking garments as Ifiigo, close-fitting 
grey smocks reaching to the feet and caps strangely shaped and coloured. 
This small group of eccentric students were soon known to the whole 
town, and the children in the streets nicknamed them ensaydados, "the 
men in wool." 

Just as the relationship of these youths to their master rested on noth- 
ing more than an immature enthusiasm, so too was it of scant duration. 
When Ignatius left Spain in order to continue his studies in Paris, his 
disciples did not accompany him, and he waited in vain for them to fol- 
low him. Hardly had his personal influence been withdrawn when the 
whole association was dissolved. 


Arteaga was successful in obtaining a lucrative benefice in the knightly 
order of San lago ; Reinalde became a monk ; Caceres returned to his 
native town and there led the contented life of a well-to-do man. Calixto, 
however, who had at one time been the most enthusiastic of them all, 
later went to the West Indies as the courier of a foreign lady, established 
a profitable business there and ended his days in Salamanca as a rich mer- 

This strange circle of ecstatic youths and women must necessarily have 
excited the suspicion of the ecclesiastical authorities. The neighbourhood 
of Alcala was the seat of the "Alumbrados," a strange sect of Spanish 
mystics against whom the Inquisition was at that time energetically en- 
tering the field. Soon it was suspected that Ignatius was a member of the 
sect. Exhaustive investigations were made; Ignatius and his disciples 
were arrested more than once ; finally, as he was totally lacking in theo- 
logical knowledge, he was merely forbidden to acquire disciples, and al- 
lowed to continue on his way. 

A similar fate befell him in Salamanca, to which place he had gone 
after his release in order to continue his studies. The authorities there also 
instituted an inquiry, and again, after an exhaustive examination, he was 
acquitted on condition that henceforth he refrain from preaching. 

Nevertheless, as his ardent desire to "rescue souls" would not give him 
peace, he at last resolved to leave Spain altogether, and so, towards the 
end of the year 1527, he set out on foot for Paris, driving before him an 
ass laden with books. 

The Work of Conversion in the Students 9 Room 

He soon became a well-known figure among the Paris students, for he 
was to be seen daily in the dirty, narrow "Dogs' Alley" between the col- 
leges of Montaigu and St. Barbara. At that time, he gave the impression 
of being a haggard, oldish man with distinguished features, who, on ac- 
count of his unhealthy and emaciated appearance, his tangled dark beard 
and his dirty, long black robe, had an unpleasant effect on those who came 
into contact with him. 

While Ignatius was still studying the rudiments of grammar at the 
College de Montaigu, a Spaniard, Amador, who, up to that time, had 
been regarded as a model student, disappeared one day from the neigh- 
bouring college in the company of two other Spanish students, Peralta 
and Doctor de Castro. 

A change had already been observed in the manners of these three 


young men. For some time, they had been neglecting their studies, and 
had prayed and meditated unceasingly ; in turn they sold their books, their 
clothes and their furniture, giving away the proceeds of the sale and liv- 
ing only on the money they obtained by begging. Immediately after their 
flight, it became known that they had in all this been persuaded by the 
Spanish student, Ifiigo de Loyola, and that they were residing in the 
Hopital St.-Jacques where the latter lived. Thereupon some hundreds of 
their fellow-students gathered in front of the hospice, stormed it, and 
seized the fugitives and forced them to return to the college. 

Only after this new failure was Ignatius to find in Paris and draw to 
him those men who were in the future to form the nucleus of his order. 
When the excitement over the flight of the Spaniards had died down, 
Ignatius himself entered the College de Sainte-Barbe. He there shared a 
room with two other students who were preparing diligently for their 
examinations; he subordinated himself quite calmly to these fellow- 
workers, but, from the first moment he set eyes on that room, he was 
seized by an overwhelming desire to possess those two souls for his own. 
Such an excellent opportunity of first minutely examining the objects of 
his passion for converting people in the narrow confines of a room shared 
in common with them and of testing the effect of each word on them had 
never before presented itself to him. 

Peter Faber, one of his new roommates, was a man of profound learn- 
ing; he had mastered the subtleties of Aristotle so well that even the 
teachers called upon him for his opinion in settling difficult points con- 
nected with the interpretation of that philosopher. Nevertheless, Ignatius 
soon noticed that behind the disciplined mind of this son of a Savoyard 
peasant there was hidden a soul embarrassed by distress and perplexity; 
the superstition of the erstwhile herdsman, the deep fear of evil and dan- 
gerous forces which had at one time claimed the boy on the Alpine pas- 
ture, had not even now been entirely dispelled by the logic of Aristotle. 

A long time was to pass before Ignatius was certain that Faber was to 
be one of his followers. A small sum of money which he had begged from 
a rich Dutch merchant gave him his first opportunity of approaching him, 
for Peter Faber was poor and suffered much on account of his enormous 
appetite. Unobtrusively, Ignatius made it possible for him to eat his fill. 

At last the moment came when Faber began to open his mind to his 
new roommate. Step by step during their studies, Ignatius had persuaded 
this taciturn peasant to begin to tell him of his past life, and finally every- 
thing hidden burst forth naive and incoherent from his soul. Ignatius 

3 1 \ S 
Fiom the Acta Sanctorum 


w 3 









saw the twelve-year-old shepherd boy sitting in the midst of his flock, 
and, panic-stricken by a troubled conscience, taking a vow of chastity. 
Now the awakened man struggled in anguish to keep himself pure amid a 
thousand desires and temptations. "My temptations," said Faber himself 
later, "consisted of sinful representations which the angel of darkness 
aroused in me, and which were such as I could not understand, as I was 
deficient in the ability to distinguish between the spirits." 

Fabtt soon surrendered wholly to the influence of his new preceptor. 
Led by Ignatius, he gradually emerged from a mental state of chaotic 
disorder to contented lucidity and order. For he had learned by the Ex- 
ercises with its examen particulare to analyse into its constituent parts 
the generalized feeling of sin which had previously harassed and threat- 
ened to overwhelm him, and then to analyse each sin singly. 

Francis Xavier, Loyola's second roommate, was one of those hilarious 
and cheerful young students who seem to overcome all difficulties with an 
easy grace. Learning gave him no trouble, and, consequently, he was able 
to spend much of his spare time on the islands in the Seine, where, with 
other young people, he ran and fought for wagers. At night, he was sel- 
dom to be found in the small room at the college ; it was mostly towards 
morning before he returned from these joyful expeditions by way of the 
doubtful taverns of the Latin Quarter. It was his life's ambition to ac- 
quire a rich living in his native Navarre, and his most zealous endeavours 
were directed to establishing in proper form his somewhat doubtful claim 
to noble rank. With this aim in view, he kept up a lively correspondence, 
and addressed numerous memorials to every possible office and authority. 

Ignatius, who kept him under constant quiet observation, was able to 
perceive those otherwise unnoticed moments when Xavier, the apparently 
careless man of the world, became undecided, and stared vacantly before 
him, wearied by the empty monotony of his repeated excesses, terrified 
by the sight of faces bearing the threatening marks of the new venereal 

Xavier for a long time felt a strong aversion to Ignatius, and the 
bigotry of this oldep student repelled him. At every opportunity, Ignatius 
urged his colleagues^to be converted to a "Christian life," and on Sundays 
allowed no occasion to pass without unctuously uttering a pious text ; it 
was said of him in jest that, challenged to a billiard match by a fellow- 
student, he made the condition that, if he won, he should give spiritual 
exercises to his opponent. This all went towards arousing in Xavier a 
lively feeling of disapproval and antipathy. 


As with Peter Faber, Ignatius called money to his aid in the conquest 
of Xavier's soul. The flighty student was never able to make both ends 
meet, was often in financial difficulties, and gladly accepted the assistance 
offered by Ignatius, whom he esteemed so little. 

Once, however, when Xavier had boastingly unfolded his ambitious 
plans for the future, Ignatius, after a while, quite casually mentioned the 
words of the. Gospel according to St. Matthew: "For what is a man 
profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?" 
His high-flown discussion interrupted by a scriptural text which 
sounded almost malicious, Xavier felt that the remark was out of place ; 
later, however, the sentence of the "ridiculous hypocrite" constantly in- 
truded upon him ; as time went on, the words interrupted for a while his 
amusements and his dissipations, until at last he yielded. In vain did he 
struggle against the growing power of his conscience, and cling in spite 
of everything to his worldly life; the words of the Bible waxed within 
him and flourished on all his wicked diversions, his disappointments, his 
dull weariness, and on every trivial cause for mental reflection. 

Xavier listened more and more attentively to Loyola's discourses on 
spiritual matters, and, in a short time, begged him outright for instruc- 
tion and guidance ; soon he had not only forgotten his boon companions, 
but had broken away from the men who were devoted to the new hu- 
manistic ideas, and whom hitherto he had regarded as his teachers and 
his models. 

The religious feeling in Francis Xavier had become so overpowering 
that he was ready to lay down the instructorship he had lately acquired, 
and devote himself solely to spiritual meditation ; Ignatius had to prevail 
upon him almost with force to continue for yet a while in his profession. 

Xavier later became one of the most brilliant of the apostles of the 
Ignatian doctrine, and in him the spirit of Loyola reached its finest 
bloom. The former frivolous man of the world went out as the first Jesuit 
missionary to India and Japan, and there wrote poems which for their 
fervent strength of spiritual longing must be counted among the finest 
testimonies of Catholic sentiment : 

At such love, my love I kindle. 
Were there no heaven, still must I love ! 
Were there no hell, sin would I shun ! 
Were heaven and hell to pass away, 
With their rewards and punishments, 
In me would love for love endure ! 


The Founding of the Society of Jesus 

Shortly after Ignatius had won over Faber and Xavier, other follow- 
ers from among the Parisian students gathered round him. The Span- 
iards, Laynez and Salmeron, had come to the French capital from Alcala, 
and Ignatius had met them as they were dismounting from their horses 
in front of the inn; they immediately joined their countryman, of whom 
they had already heard in Alcala. The Portuguese, Rodriguez, was also 
quickly gained, for he had a natural gift for religious dreaming, and for 
that reason was predestined to devoted discipleship. Finally he was joined 
by Bobadilla, an impoverished nobleman, who was able to pursue his 
studies only under conditions of the greatest privation ; as in the case of 
Faber and Xavier, he was first of all made tractable by means of pecu- 
niary assistance, until at last he was bound fast in spirit to Ignatius. 

Each for himself, under Loyola's guidance they all practised the spirit- 
ual exercises. The practice of the exercises still had something fanatical 
about it. In spite of the exceptionally cold winter, Faber disdained to 
warm his room, and did some part of the exercises in the open in the 
courtyard of his house, which was deeply covered with snow ; at night he 
slept in his shirt on a wood-pile, and for fully six days he did not take a 
bite of food. 

When that small but completely reliable band of fighters for God had 
gathered about him in Paris, Ignatius believed that he had almost com- 
pleted his work. Actually, however, his real and most serious difficulties 
lay ahead of him. 

It was now necessary for Ignatius to assign their tasks to this small 
band, but it became at once apparent that he still had no practical or defi- 
nite end in view, for, on the formation of the Society on the day of the 
Feast of Assumption in the year 1534, what he discussed with his fol- 
lowers in glowing words was nothing else than the old fantastic dream of 
the conquest of Jerusalem. 

Although, on his pilgrimage, he had had an opportunity of becoming 
personally acquainted with the actual conditions in the Holy Land, the 
difficult position of the Christians living there, and the power and fanat- 
ical zeal of the Turks, he nevertheless told his disciples that they should 
go to Jerusalem, and by the peaceful conversion of the unbelievers accom- 
plish the great work in which the crusaders had failed. On their knees in 
the Chapel of St. Mary on Montmartre, they all took a vow of purity and 
poverty, and swore solemnly to set out at any appointed tinis f or th Holy 


With all his enthusiasm, Ignatius was, nevertheless, not quite happy 
about the resolution they had made ; even though he did not admit it, his 
bright hopes of establishing the kingdom of Christ in the Holy Land were 
already overshadowed by a great uncertainty. With the presentiment that 
his plan might prove impracticable, he added a second plank to his pro- 
gramme : if by a certain date the journey to Jerusalem had not proved 
possible, they would all go to Rome and offer their services to the pope. 

Thus the solemn vow taken on Montmartre, which in fact was the real 
beginning of the Society of Jesus, contained from the first a strange in- 
consistency. Two eventualities were provided for, and instead of giving 
a fixed and inviolable form to a clearly stated intention, the vow provided, 
in its ambiguity, a peculiar combination of blind enthusiasm and pessimis- 
tic foreshadowing of difficulties. Loyola's uncertainty soon proved itself 
to be justified, for the crusade came to an end in Venice. 

From Paris, they had all set out for the Venetian Republic, which they 
reached after great privation, animated only by the passionate desire to 
reach the Holy Land. From Venice, Ignatius dispatched three of his dis- 
ciples to Rome, in order to ask the pope for the passports to Jerusalem. 

The aged pope, Paul III, a follower and pupil of the humanist Pom- 
ponius Laetus, loved to hear, after the old custom, philosophical and theo- 
logical discussions at his table ; on these occasions, the doctors present 
put difficult and involved theological questions to the speakers and the 
pope found his pleasure in the subtleties of the answers. 

Through the good offices of the imperial ambassador, Pedro Ortiz, the 
three disciples of Ignatius, soon after their arrival in Rome, were invited 
to one of these theological repasts. On this occasion, the young masters 
of the Paris faculty showed the profundity of their knowledge, and the 
pope graciously promised them every assistance in their pilgrimage. Paul, 
who was well informed of the preparations the Venetians were making 
for a war against the Turks, remarked : "I give you my blessing freely, 
but I do not believe it will be possible for you to make an early depar- 

The pope was right. When Ignatius and his band were ready to start, 
the Turkish war broke out, rendering impossible for a long while all 
journeys to Mohammedan countries. 

Ignatius never again in his life saw the Holy Land, but his adventur- 
ous scheme of conquest was not forgotten. Decades later, when the 
Jesuit order had become the sober, definite and conscious organization 
which we know, when Ignatius himself had become the prudent and clear- 
thinking general of the order, the romantic idea of a new crusade seized 

Paintmg by Titian. 


him once again. While engaged in matters concerned with sober adminis- 
trative measures, he elaborated a plan which he intended to put before the 
emperor, and which aimed at the capture of Jerusalem. 

Naturally, the means he now wished to employ were quite different ; in 
the meantime, he had learned that little was to be achieved in a struggle 
against the Turks, if pious humility alone were used, and so he explained 
quite coolly to the emperor how necessary it was to raise a fleet of some 
hundreds of vessels and obtain the money for this purpose by levying a 
heavy special tax. 

This plan was no more carried out than was the earlier idea of a peace- 
ful conquest of the Mohammedans by preaching and martyrdom. Never- 
theless, this endeavour of Loyola's to lead unbelievers into the bosom of 
the Church became of the utmost importance in relation to the further 
development of the order, for in it lay the germ of that apostolic mis- 
sionary work which was to lead the Jesuits to great success. 

When, in 1537, on account of the war, it at last became certain that it 
would be impossible to undertake the journey to Jerusalem for some time 
to come, the little band found it necessary to carry into effect the second 
part of the program conceived on Montmartre ; a plan no less romantic 
than the first. They were to offer their services to the pope, but in what 
these services were actually to consist, they did not clearly understand. 

The pope himself was quite embarrassed by the offer, which later was 
to prove to be the beginning of a new and magnificent era in the power 
of the Holy See. At the beginning of 1538, Ignatius, accompanied by 
Laynez and Faber, appeared at the Curia, and there, as he later declared, 
he found "the window shut." For Paul III, who was especially inter- 
ested in international politics, was at that moment endeavouring to un- 
ravel the warlike entanglements of the emperor and the king of France ; 
what could these scholars from Paris mean to him ? They had nothing 
more to offer him than a devotion as enthusiastic as it was obscure ! 

As it happened, Paul needed additional teachers for the university in 
Rome, and so he allotted to Laynez and Faber the task of delivering theo- 
logical lectures at the "Sapienza" ; he then departed for Nice to attend the 
peace conference between King Francis and Charles the Fifth, and, for 
the time being, troubled himself no further about his new auxiliary force. 

Up Against Modern Problems 

The long period of waiting in Venice had furnished the small Society 
for the first time with the opportunity for practical work. The whole 


structure of the band created by Ignatius contained a tendency towards 
external activity, for the forces of this association, organized on a mili- 
tary basis, of themselves urged it to some active employment. The mem- 
bers of the Society eagerly desired to do something or other to distinguish 
themselves, and to be active in every conceivable way in the fight for the 
Kingdom of Christ. 

Of all other spiritual fellowships, the order of the Theatines, which 
had been established a short time before, was especially prominent. In it 
the new spirit of the Catholic Reformation made its appearance for the 
first time ; strong in their principles, the Theatines strove to set the world 
an example of energy and sacrifice, and performed, to the general ad- 
miration of all, much good work in connexion with the care of the sick 
in the hospitals. Those who still had hopes of a resuscitation of the almost 
degenerate Catholic piety turned their eyes expectantly to the Theatines. 

It was inevitable that Ignatius and his comrades should seek to com- 
pete with the Theatines. They threw themselves into the business of tend- 
ing the sick, assisting the poor, the imprisoned, and the dying, and in all 
this they exhibited a devotion which was almost superhuman. Their am- 
bition to outshine the crusaders was gradually replaced by the striving to 
emulate the order of the Theatines ; this desire often misled them into do- 
ing things less with the idea of helping the sick than of making them sub- 
jects for the exercise of their own heroic self-control. 

Immediately after his conversion, Ignatius had shown a similar pa- 
thetic heroism in the hospice at Manresa. He had come into contact with 
sick persons whose infirmities evoked the greatest disgust, and, when he 
felt his senses revolting against the stench, filth and everything around 
him, 'he had immediately forced himself to embrace tenderly the most 
repellent inmates of the hospital. 

Wholly in this wise, his followers now conducted themselves in the 
Venetian hospitals. Not only did they perform the most menial services, 
sweeping and scrubbing the filthy floors, cleaning the chamber utensils, 
putting the dead upon biers and digging graves, but they chose just those 
labours which were most calculated to produce loathing and horror. 

When Xavier was once requested by one of the patients to scrape out 
an abscess and he felt rather squeamish about it, he put his hand, which 
was covered with purulent matter, to his mouth, in order to put his self- 
control to the extreme test. Simon Rodriguez invited a leper who had 
been refused admission to the hospital into his room and shared his bed 
with him. 

On another occasion, on the journey from Venice to Rome, Rodriguez 


spent the night in a hospital in Ravenna, and the bed-sheets which were 
offered to him were still wet with the pus of a sick man. Shaken with hor- 
ror, Rodriguez would not at first make use of this resting-place, but after- 
wards, in order to punish himself for his weakness, he laid himself down 
naked in a bed in which, immediately before, a man had died of pedicu- 
losis, and which still swarmed with vermin. 

The whole mode of living of the small band was governed by such 
fanatical ideas of subduing the soul. They went about in rags, and lived 
in dilapidated houses without doors or windows, in which they were ex- 
posed to malaria mosquitoes. They starved, begged, and distributed the 
money they obtained in this way. Since, however, their privations and 
miseries were not the result of a pressing need, their attitude lacked true 
gravity and inner justification ; there was always something artificial and 
theatrical about it. However, the fact that these zealots had begun to take 
an interest in the evils of their time and to think of suitable methods for 
combating them meant a decided turning-point in their ideas. Slowly the 
Jesuit organization developed from a group of immature visionaries to 
one that was to strive painstakingly after sober tasks. 

Once the efforts of these first Jesuits had been turned from fantastic 
and remote ideals to practical needs, problems sprang up on all sides, for 
the solution of which the militarily disciplined "Compafiia de Jesus" 
seemed to have been specially formed. 

For in this sixteenth century, in the much-vaunted period of the flo- 
rescence of the arts, of the cultivation of the serenity of classical antiq- 
uity, and of the free "Renaissance man," there were also innumerable 
helpless people, victims of the black death and of leprosy, about whom 
nobody troubled, and who mouldered away unnoticed on dirty beds until 
their corpses could be thrown into a common grave. While philosophers, 
poets and beautiful women joyfully celebrated the emancipation of the 
individual, innumerable children, in whom nobody was interested, were 
completely neglected, and unnoticed thousands perished of hunger and 

Shortly after their arrival in Rome, Ignatius and his disciples had oc- 
casion to show how they had learned to combat practical evils by practical 
means. At the latter end of the cold autumn of 1538, a severe famine 
afflicted the Holy City, and the people fell from exhaustion in great num- 
bers in the streets. Night after night, the Jesuits went round with torches 
and stretchers, gathered up the starving, and carried them to the house 
which their devoted admirer, Antonio Frangipani, had placed at their 
disposal for their residence. By means of systematic house-to-house col- 


lections, they begged for money, food, clothing, kindling and straw, ar 
were thus able to provide their charges with sustenance and clothing ar 
with straw beds beside a warm fire. 

Soon, however, Ignatius began to realize how feeble such assistanc 
devoted and self-sacrificing though it was, must be in relation to thoi 
social needs which, deeply rooted in the structure of society, had existe 
as permanent institutions from time immemorial. He could, therefor 
no longer be content to hasten here and there with his small band in ord< 
to succour a few of the sick and the starving ; what moved him now w; 
a strong desire to combat the evil in its entirety, and the whole of sociel 
became the test of his powers and of those of his followers. The need c 
society was not, however, to be met by the benevolent succour of indivic 
uals, but by planned and organized assistance on a large scale. 

Mediaeval Christian charity, based on spontaneous compassion, no 
for the first time broadened into well-thought-out social- welfare wor] 
and the Jesuits striking into this path were the first who went far beyon 
the charitable activities as thitherto exercised by the spiritual brothe 1 

The great, enthusiastic impulse, the unreserved surrender to a spirituj 
aim, of which only the mediaeval man was capable to such an extent, ha< 
in more sober surroundings, been able to express itself only in absun 
romantic and theatrical poses; this energy was now gradually tram 
formed, and was to continue its life in the form of a severely rationalists 
organization of compelling power. Many of the plans conceived at thz 
time were, indeed, abortive ; they had beginnings, but miscarried and ha 
finally to be abandoned. The intention behind all these endeavours, hov\ 
ever, clearly revealed a new kind of social thought, which has develope 
more and more clearly right up to the present day. 

The evils'which the Jesuits took up the task of combating were in man 
ways similar to the social evils which exist at the present time : begging 
unemployment, child neglect and prostitution. The plan devised by Ignz 
tius to establish in all large districts, at the public expense, central office 
for the supervision of beggars, employment exchanges for those able t 
work, 'and institutions for the aged and the sick could not be carried out 
it has not, indeed, been fully realized even today, when the feeling o 
social responsibility is so much more highly developed. Nor did the ide 
of providing proper homes for abandoned 'children get beyond an in 
significant beginning. 

Ignatius placed the greatest emphasis on the evils of prostitutior 
and he devoted his 'most earnest attentions to its prevention. In this, hi 









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religious conception of the sinfulness of carnal lust and of the duty of 
rescuing erring souls from the meshes of Satan played a great part, but 
his efforts to put an end to prostitution also testify to his solicitous re- 
gard for the social evils of those days. 

For at that time venereal disease, which had been introduced from 
France and Spain, claimed many victims from among all classes of 
Roman society. Not only in the notorious districts near Sant' Angelo, the 
Tiber bridges, round about the cemeteries and behind the shops of the 
money-changers on the Via dei Bianchi did helpless and despised pros- 
titutes wander about sick or shaking with the disease ; but also in the 
salons of the great courtesans, decorated with heavy tapestries and bro- 
cades, costly pictures and gilded leathern curtains, round the tables richly 
covered with silver vessels, Venetian glass-ware and vases filled with 
flowers, and among the cardinals, aristocrats, merchants, artists and 
savants gathered there, the amusing conversations seemed forced and the 
praises of "free love" and of the "great hetaerae" rang false and un- 
genuine. The trembling fear of infection was hidden behind all this 
wanton chatter and praise of the erotic and behind all these festivities, 
amusements and embraces ; each day the names of new victims were on 
everybody's lips. 

The courtesans who had formerly been honoured as the reincarnation 
of the ancient ideal of love were now beginning to be cursed. In the pres- 
ence of this disease, even many of the 'cardinals of the Renaissance had 
once more to believe that richly embroidered clothes and velvet slippers 
were a mockery and coloured ribbons and costly necklaces the fetters of 
Satan; through the perfume of elegant gloves, there seemed suddenly to 
percolate a suspicious odour of brimstone, and, in the eyes of the dis- 
mayed clerics, the chambermaids, eunuchs and black slave-women of the 
courtesans changed into grotesque servants of Satan. 

While those who moved in distinguished circles were still concerned in 
gallantly concealing the prevailing consternation, the people of the streets 
cried out their indignation to the world at large. A revolt broke out 
against the cult of the hetaerse. From all sides resounded bitter, satirical 
songs, in which the prostitutes were branded with the lewdest abuse as 
the carriers of the horrible disease. Balladmongers and singers went 
through the town, collected groups of people round them, and taught 
them the new "syphilis songs." 

When, therefore, Ignatius announced that he would give his life, if 
only to prevent the sins of a single prostitute on a single night, this state- 
ment was not received as a mere meaningless and sentimental utterance, 


among both high and low alike, it touched the hearts of those who 
tad once more begun to regard carnal pleasure as a sin. Thus the work 
of rescuing fallen women and girls undertaken by Ignatius in no wise 
appeared merely as the product of religious zeal, but as a step towards the 
removal of a glaring social evil, and, therefore, it came about that in this 
enterprise he received the guidance and support of all classes of society. 

Ignatius was at especial pains to rescue married women who had suc- 
cumbed to the enticements of procuresses, the women of whom Pietro 
Aretino complained: "Like bats or owls, they come at night from 
their nests and beat up the monasteries, the courts, the brothels and 
the hostelries ; here they take away a nun, there a monk; to this one they 
bring a loose woman, to that one a widow, 'to one a wife, to another a 
virgin; the lackeys they satisfy with the waiting-women of their mis- 
tresses, the steward consoles himself with his lady. . . ." 

Ignatius and his colleagues soon became the terror of the procuresses. 
With the penetration of detectives, they investigated the haunts of these 
go-betweens ; they lay in wait for hours at a time before house doors, 
arid caught the women as they entered in order to admonish them. Should 
one of them be stricken with remorse, the Jesuits gave her shelter in a 
private dwelling, where lodging, attention and a respectable livelihood 
were offered her. Ignatius himself collected money from rich people, and 
founded an asylum for fallen women; in this "Martha House," former 
prostitutes lived under strict supervision, performed all kinds of work, 
and were permitted finally to leave the institution only when they had 
promised to return to the orderly life of a respectable citizen. 

The Way to World Domination 

Of all the aspects of social activity developed by the Jesuits in these 
early days, preaching alone, although in a different form, was to main- 
tain in later years its importance for the Society of Jesus ; indeed, it was 
to become one of the bases of $ie great success of the order. 

In Venice, among those Catholics who enthusiastically favoured a re- 
form, and had gathered round the Benedictine abbot, Cortese, Ignatius 
had often heard talk of the horrifying condition of the Church. He had 
learned how completely secularized the clergy had become, and how they 
had lost much of their influence over the people. 

The bishops lived at great distances from their dioceses, and were 
represented by paid deputies; the priests regarded their office merely as 
a sinecure and confined their spiritual activities to taking money for chris- 


tening infants and performing the marriage and burial services ; for the 
rest, they lived contentedly with their concubines, without troubling in 
the least about the spiritual welfare of their parish. The churches them- 
selves were in many ways little more than places where people for- 
gathered to talk business or to dally with pretty women ; there were towns 
where the courts of law were held in the cathedral while mass was pro- 
ceeding, and in other towns the church served as an exchange. 

Even the monasteries, apart from a few exceptions, had become haunts 
of depravity. It was possible for Cardinal Contarini to declare in public 
that the convents had taken the place of the brothels. The distinguished 
orders such as the Benedictines, which had remained undefiled by the 
corruption of morals, lacked all contact with the people. The proud and 
learned monks led a life of refined culture and meditation, and exerted 
no kind of influence on the multitude. 

In this way, the population was left almost entirely to its own re- 
sources, and it lost all respect for ecclesiastical authority. It sank into a 
scarcely comprehensible ignorance of religious matters; many people 
knew neither the Lord's Prayer nor the Ten Commandments ; in many 
districts of southern Italy, the greater part of the population had reverted 
to paganism, and even in the towns many half-educated people confused 
the Christian saints with the ancient gods. Those who were actuated by 
real piety turned in great numbers more or less openly towards Protes- 

Of the clergy, the monks of the begging fraternities the Franciscans, 
the Dominicans, and the Augustinians alone maintained a certain con- 
tact with the people. They alone spoke to the masses and still preached. 
But even the members of these orders were not untouched by the general 
decadence in matters of faith. They often employed the crudest methods 
in order to direct towards themselves the attention of an indifferent 
populace, and, with the help of hired accomplices, they staged fraudulent 
"miraculous healings." 

In opposition to this decadence, the Theatines, here too, as in the case 
of the sick, set a good example. Cardinal Caraffa, who later became Pope 
Paul IV, appeared in person in the deserted pulpits of the Roman 
churches, in order to warn the people of the impending punishment of 

The work of preaching to the nation, however, became systematic only 
when Ignatius and his disciples began to take part in it. In twos, they 
went from Venice to Vicenza, Monf elice, Bassano, Verona and Treviso, 
and, in the busy squares, they stood on a stone or on a bench, and, by 


animated gestures and the waving of their hats, they invited those around 
them to listen to them, and then delivered their sermons unheedful of the 
loud sneers of the scoffers. This they continued until their fiery rhetoric 
touched their audiences, and more and more listeners came who desired 
to confess and communicate. 

This activity was extended to Rome. A few months after the small 
band had reached that city, Loyola's disciples distributed themselves as 
preachers among the most important churches, some in the centre of the 
city and others in the poorer diltricts. The public soon flocked to them in 
ever-increasing numbers, for, according to the instructions issued by 
Ignatius, "they were to influence the people more by the glow of the spirit 
and eyes than by well-chosen words," and, consequently, as far as pos- 
sible, they spoke forcibly, spiritedly and clearly. 

At that time, they practised a sudden and crude attack on the human 
soul, and sought to move their audiences either by an extravagant de- 
scription of heavenly happiness or by arousing in them a fear of the pun- 
ishments of hell. As time went on, however, they slowly began to realize 
that an enduring conversion could but seldom be attained by such meth- 
ods. In order to gather together a circle of reliable followers, strong in 
their faith, they had gradually to abandon the theatrical playing on the 
emotions of their hearers, and they sought more and more for other 
means, in addition to preaching, which would give them a lasting guid- 
ance of souls. 

For this purpose, it seemed to the Jesuits that confession was especially 
suited. Had it not at all times been one of the strongest means for the 
chastening of the faithful ? It was not only by pious Catholics that con- 
fession was regarded as a prescriptive obligation; other religions and 
cultures had also recognized the extraordinary importance of intimate 

"Know ye," Seneca has said, "why we keep our vices secret? Because 
they are part of us. To acknowledge them, however, is a sure sign of heal- 
ing." And in the thirty-second Psalm of David, we have : "I acknowl- 
edged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will 
confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou f orgavest the iniquity 
of my sin." 

The Indian laws of Manu say: "The more sincerely and freely a man 
confess his sins, the better is he able to cast them from him, as a snake 
sloughs its skin." Similar commendations of voluntary confession are to 
be found among nearly all peoples, among the Peruvians, the Turks, the 
Tibetans and the Japanese. The great teachers of the Christian Church 


have given even more prominence to the extraordinary significance of 
confession ; according to the Catholic doctrine, however, it is above all 
to be regarded as an indispensable preparation for the mystical act of 

In this sense, Ignatius in Manresa had also attributed especial impor- 
tance to confession, for, under the influence of ancient mystical writings, 
he had striven to receive the communion sacrament as often as possible. 
Now, however, the idea of the examination of conscience, of the constant 
and systematic supervision of all the movements of the soul, stood out 
more and more strongly, for in every examen conscienticc preceding ab- 
solution, the penitent was compelled to disclose his whole soul to the 
father-confessor, and to enumerate his offences against the laws of 
the Church ; in this condition of more or less complete contrition, the 
father-confessor must appear as an all-powerful judge, endowed with 
the power to bind or to loose ; if this judge then admonished or counselled 
the penitent, he might well acquire full ascendancy over the penitent's 

Therefore, wherever Ignatius and his disciples appeared, they began 
immediately a lively agitation in favour of confession, and from that 
time on their eloquence in the pulpit was concentrated on the task of urg- 
ing as many of their hearers as possible to the confessional. 

Ignatius himself set the example. When he preached in the church of 
Santa Maria della Strada in Rome, he was able, in spite of his defective 
knowledge of Italian, so to move his audience that, driven by repentance, 
they hastened in large numbers to the confessional to obtain there for- 
giveness for their sins. 

But as the number of penitents won over by the Jesuits grew larger and 
larger, so too grew up in them the knowledge that, though power over 
the souls of the masses was important, it was still more important to win 
the mastery of those few men in influential places on whom the fate of 
nations depended. The real political role of the Jesuits started only from 
the moment when they began to dominate the consciences of kings and 
princes. The way to world domination, which had first of all led them 
from direct charity to organized social- welfare work, now brought them 
up against new aims, in that the activity of the order was applied more 
and more to the spiritual guidance of princes, for the order of the Jesuits 
from now on recognized in the rulers the personification of the whole 

Ignatius soon perceived with great distinctness the historical mission 
of the Society he had created. When it first became the task of Ignatius 


and his disciples to act as confessors to princes, there was in the begin- 
ning some doubt whether the acceptance of such high positions was com- 
patible with their vow of humility. Ignatius, however, soon rid himself 
of this scruple, and ordered his disciples in no case to decline the office of 
court confessor. In the year 1553, he wrote to Miron, the provincial of the 
order at Lisbon : "The public interest and the service of God can only gain 
by this, for the members participate in the well-being of the head, sub- 
jects in the well-being of the prince ; therefore spiritual help is in no case 
so well applied as in this." 

In the meantime, they continued with their preaching to the people, but 
only in those places, as, for example, on their missions, where it served 
to obtain for the Jesuits entry into a foreign territory and the confidence 
of the masses. In other countries, where they had already gained a foot- 
ing, street and popular preaching was later practised almost wholly for 
the purpose of training the young novices of the order. 

When the Jesuits of Cologne spent too much time on popular missions 
in the country, Ignatius censured them expressly for it, and wrote that 
such activity was only to be recommended as a beginning. Nothing was 
worse than to pursue trivial successes, and thereby to lose sight of the 
great tasks ; the Jesuits had far higher aims to strive after than the mere 
conversion of peasants. 

These higher aims consisted for the most part in the conquest and en- 
during guidance of secular and spiritual authorities on whom, in a time 
of ever stronger absolutism, finally depended every important decision 
even in matters of faith. 

Physical Asceticism and Discipline of the Will 

In the new order, there was no longer any place for monkish mortifica- 
tion, which belonged to a past age of religious life. The ascetics of the 
Middle Ages had endeavoured to overcome the flesh by torture and priva- 
tion, and by such means to free the spirit of all earthly hindrances, but 
Ignatius desired to create a "host of Christ" for the conquest of the 

The severe asceticism of the Middle Ages, with its self-castigations and 
privations, was, moreover, in no wise suited to a military order of war- 
riors eager for battle ; the Society of Jesus needed powerful and healthy 
men, ever ready for any service or any work. Ignatius very soon, there- 
fore, set his face against the mortification of the flesh by castigation 
Which was practised by Christian fraternities. Qf ppqj-sg, Loyola's eman- 


cipation from the ascetic ideal did not take place suddenly; during the 
time he was studying in Paris, he had himself performed many special 
penances. But, when he perceived the physical injury resulting from sdf- 
castigations, he became more and more opposed to such severe exercises. 
The later version of the Spiritual Exercises consequently contains ener- 
getic prohibitions of the practice of excessive penances : the exercitant 
shall neither fast nor scourge himself heavily, for the necessary prepara- 
tion for spiritual experiences is now the way of the spirit. 

Even in the first statutes of the order, of the year 1539, it is stated that 
the brethren shall not have imposed upon them "fasts, scourgings, walk- 
ing barefooted or bareheaded, particular colours for their clothes, par- 
ticular foods, penances, hair shirts or other mortifications under penalty 
of grievous sin." Moreover, the final Constitutions of the Society re- 
peatedly emphasize the duty of the Jesuit to look after his body, and by 
suitable exercises to make it a fitting tool of the spirit. 

Loyola's views on asceticism are most clearly expressed in his letter of 
September 20, 1548, to Duke Francisco Borgia. "As for fasts and ab- 
stinence," he says, "I would wish you to maintain your bodily powers in 
health for the service of our Lord, and to strengthen them instead of 
weakening them. . . . We must look after the body and keep it healthy 
inasmuch as it serves the soul and fits it for the service and glorification 
of the Creator. . . . Instead of weakening the body by excessive morti- 
fications, it is more reasonable to honour God by inward devotions and 
other discreet exercises. Then will the soul be well and a healthy mind 
dwell in a healthy body. Without doubt there is more virtue and grace in 
being able to enjoy your God in various business at various places than at 
the praying stool. . . ." Thus bodily asceticism gradually sank more and 
more to a mere discipline of the will ; it became a test of strength, a pre-. 
paratory exercise, and lost all importance as an end in itself. Mortifica- 
tion of the body was refined into a mortification of the spirit; from 
asceticism gradually emerged discipline. 

Ignatius and his disciples no longer dwelt in dilapidated and squalid 
houses. Although they clung to their modest way of living, they now had 
cleanly covered tables and plentiful meals ; they must have had the ap- 
pearance of "the poorer nobility," never sumptuous, but always orderly 
and clean. Ignatius was delighted when his guests ate heartily, and he fre- 
quently invited to his table a corpulent brother of his order, because the 
latter enjoyed his meals with such obvious pleasure. He now liked most 
of all to see happy faces round about him, and he once wrote in his note- 
book : "I see thee always laughing, my dearest ! I am delighted about it, 


for he whom God has sanctified has no cause to sorrow, but every reason 
for being happy." 

Perhaps nothing can better illustrate the great change in the spirit of 
the Society of Jesus than the dispute in which Ignatius and Simon Ro- 
driguez, one of the first disciples, were involved. 

At a time when they were all engaged in emotional itinerant preaching 
and self-castigation, Rodriguez had gone to Portugal, and there, at his 
isolated post, had remained untouched by the great change in the rest of 
the Society. In Lisbon, he had from the beginning laboured at street 
preaching with the crudest methods, and had sought to move the popu- 
lation by songs of penitence and by nocturnal torchlight processions. In 
the college he directed at Coimbra, he had evolved a strange form of re- 
ligious fanaticism, under the influence of which his students practised 
the weirdest forms of self-castigation. Once Rodriguez reported to Rome 
that a young member of the college, in order to humiliate himself, had 
walked stark naked through the streets of the town, and he could not un- 
derstand why Ignatius received such reports not only without praise but 
with ever sharper reproof. 

Ignatius had finally to decide to recall Rodriguez from Portugal. The 
trustworthy Miron was appointed his successor, and he energetically re- 
formed the College of Coimbra. There also senseless castigation was re- 
placed by the spirit of organized discipline. 

For Ignatius, with deepening understanding, had grasped that a really 
homogeneous fighting force, aiming at success under the most difficult 
internal and external conditions, needed discipline before all. Only in a 
union of men so trained could those forces be freed which until then had 
been weakened by mortifications, and which now, rightly directed, were 
united into a superior, all-compelling power. 

But the introduction of such a discipline into the community founded 
by Ignatius proceeded but slowly and laboriously, for it immediately be- 
came apparent how difficult it is to reconcile personal and national 
differences of temperament and of opinion. 

Detailed minutes of the early discussions of the Society of Jesus are in 
existence, and it is uncommonly interesting to observe by means of these 
documents how a number of men made the heroic attempt to overcome 
all their individual interests and desires, in order to submit themselves 
to an organized discipline. At first, the discussions only too often took 
the form of a disorderly debate of all with all. To avoid this evil, the 
companions proposed at first to retire into the wilderness, to seek there 
enlightenment in penances and fasting ; then it was decided that each of 


them should endeavour to arrive at "a joyful and peaceful mood of com- 
posure" by diligent meditation. 

It was not until the failure of these attempts to regulate their debates, 
which still smacked somewhat of romantic medievalism, that they ar- 
rived at that method of discussion which alone seems fitted for modern 
assemblies : they introduced the principle of the vote and of decision by 
majority. It was thus finally laid down that the opposition of single mem- 
bers of the order to the decisions of the community were of no validity, 
and in this way an end was made of all individual eccentricities. 

It was in the beginning by no means easy to obtain agreement on the 
question whether there should be a strict obligation to discipline and 
obedience in the order, for, at the time when the first disciples had gath- 
ered together, there had been no talk of obedience. There was a long de- 
bate on this momentous subject, and the grounds for and against the 
establishment of strict discipline were exhaustively discussed. 

At the end of this debate, they all acknowledged that, if the other or- 
ders found obedience necessary, the new community, whose members 
would be scattered over the whole world, needed it still more ; and it was 
finally decided to formulate the duty to obey in the strictest terms. 

With the pope's approval of the Society of Jesus, Loyola's life-work 
was completed. It goes without saying that his disciples called upon him 
to assume the dignity of generalship of the order, but for a long time he 
declined to accede to their desire. Only after urgent pressing did he de- 
clare himself ready to place himself at the head of the community he had 

This hesitation did not arise from affected modesty ; the vain, ambi- 
tious knight of yore had in the course of years overcome all vestiges of 
worldly vanity. He lived only for his work, which he had created "for 
the greater glory of God." Even as general, he strove to retire behind 
the order, and little by little he became immersed in the direction of the 
innumerable affairs and duties of the Society of Jesus, until at last he was 
called for ever from his post by death. 

'Death and the Post for Spain 

He passed peacefully away on the night of July 31, 1556. Early on 
the Friday morning, the brethren of the order hastened to the artist 
Jacopin del Conte, in order that he might make a portrait of the dead ; no 
picture of him existed, because Ignatius, despite the entreaties of his 
disciples, had never allowed himself to be painted. 


When, during the afternoon, the famous and busy painter was finally 
found, there remained only a few hours in which to do his work. On the 
following morning, the body was to be placed in its coffin and buried. 
The painter stretched his canvas on its frame, and entered the low, nar- 
row room, where Ignatius lay on the bed as he had died. Jacopin had to 
work swiftly, as the oblique evening light was already entering the room 
through the small garret window. 

He had seen Ignatius several times while he was alive. He now cast his 
eyes observantly over the thick-set form that stood out stark and rigid 
on the death-bed. Intensely, he gathered up all the shadows on the im- 
mobile face of the dead man, and sought carefully to produce an animate 
fire behind the lowered eyelids, to impart to the lips, so firmly closed in 
death, the familiar smile, placid and serene, and to conjure from those 
rigid limbs, so carefully placed like tools used and put neatly aside, the 
measured pace of the living man. 

When at last the heavy bald head, which lay on the death-bed like a 
block of stone, slowly took on life, with that gentle nod with which Fa- 
ther Ignatius had so often driven home his utterances, when the stiffness 
of death had fallen away, and the body stood up and approached in its 
limping manner, it appeared to the artist for a few moments as if Igna- 
tius lived again ; and, the last stroke of the brush made, he stepped back 
from the canvas to view his work, and he was horrified to find that he 
had failed. Each detail was correct, and there were no errors to be seen 
either in colouring or in proportion; nevertheless, there looked down 
upon him from the easel a strange face, and in vain did he try to bring the 
forehead, the nose, the eyes, the mouth and the chin into a living and 
faithful representation. 

Full of humble expectation, the sorrowing brothers of the order passed 
in succession before the painting. They came to admire, but were aston- 
ished. Gloom descended over many faces, and, disillusioned, they whis- 
pered : "No, that is not our Father." 

Often after this pious disciples took their brushes and painted Igna- 
tius, now as a heavenly knight conquering hell, now as a saint, surrounded 
by angels, ascending into heaven, with a face of radiant light. In increas- 
ing numbers, there came into existence pictures intended for the simple 
devotion of homely minds, and these showed, with numerous variations, 
the same round, expressionless face in the halo of a saint. 

On the commission of rich houses of the order, he was painted by 
famous masters in ostentatious and magnificent colours, in a solemn 
attitude, attired in vestments embroidered in gold. Where the halo which 




now surrounded his head encompassed the beatific countenance of a 
saint, the resolute features of a knight of the faith, the austerity of a 
penitent, or the sanctity of a priest, it was a face arbitrarily chosen, fash- 
ioned by the artist out of his imagination or his simplicity, or according 
to the demands of his patron. The real face of the dead man had passed 
away with him for ever. 

Pedro Ribadeneira, one of the last of the early disciples, who, during 
his lifetime had been among those most closely associated with Ignatius, 
did not wish to depart this life before he had made yet another attempt 
to leave behind for the order a picture of the true face of its founder, to 
take the place of the numerous failures. He devoutly preserved in his cell 
the death-mask which had been made by someone unknown, and from 
this he decided that Alonso Sanchez Coello, the court painter of King 
Philip II of Spain, should create a faithful likeness. 

Before he began his work, however, Don Alonso piously threw him- 
self down on his knees before his easel, and, with his face raised to 
Heaven, cried : "Most holy Saint, help me in this work ! May it deserve 
the praise of God and be worthy of you !" And, on each of the many days 
he worked on the picture, he prayed with the same fervour that he might 
succeed in his difficult task. Although the king's painter was not a little 
proud of his ability to reproduce with certainty the characteristics of any 
face, he felt, in this work, uncertain from the very beginning. If he 
had not known what a truly pious man Brother Pedro was, his religious 
nature would have made him feel at times that the whole enterprise was 
an outrage. While the painter was proceeding with his work, Ribade- 
neira read one holy mass after another, yet he was not able to rid him- 
self of a feeling of uneasiness. 

From morning till evening, they stood before the canvas. The brother 
kindled with all the burning passion of his devotion to the father, and 
used his eloquence to the utmost in order to convey to the artist how the 
face of the father had appeared ; he pointed now to this and now to that 
part of the mask, explained eagerly what the redness of the cheeks, the 
light of his eyes and effect of his smile had been like. But neither masses 
and prayers, nor the art of the court painter and the tender eagerness of 
the eloquent disciple could open the eyelids of the mask and disclose 
the living eyes. In spite of all their efforts, the portrait bore only a pain- 
fully inadequate likeness to the Ignatius whom Ribadeneira had known 
in life. 

Brother Pedro had finally to acknowledge that Ignatius had not with- 
out purpose forbidden the disciples to have a portrait m^cfe of him, and 


that this prohibition was in harmony with a higher spiritual law. Now 
that the endeavours of the court painter had proved fruitless, Ribade- 
neira remembered a strange thing which had happened some years pre- 
viously, when the dead man was still alive. 

In those days the disciples had tried to outwit the general, and had 
smuggled the painter Moroni into the house of the order. When Ignatius 
had laid himself down to rest a little during the afternoon, Moroni, who 
had all his painting materials ready in the adjoining room, had come 
forward stealthily on tiptoe to the half-open door, had looked on the 
sleeper through the opening, and painted him ; the portrait, however, had 
been a miserable failure. 

Again and again Moroni had tried, a third, a fourth and a fifth time ; 
yet all his trouble was in vain. Thereupon, he had torn the canvas to 
pieces and, frightened to death, he had cried out : "I have lost my art ! 
God does not wish that this man, His servant, should be painted." 

But not only to the artists did such things happen. Even to those disci- 
ples who had for a long time been associated with the father, it seemed, 
when they now looked back, as if they had not seen his face during the 
later years of their association with him. 

They had, of course, faced him day after day, had heard his voice, and 
looked into his eyes when he had discussed the affairs of the order with 
them, received their reports, given them their orders or had admonished 
them. They had met him on those frequent occasions when he limped 
through the corridors and rooms of the house of the order looking after 
everything even to the most trivial detail. It seemed to them, however, as 
if all this, his face, his voice and his look, had vanished some years be- 
fore his death ; for a long time past it had been only the affairs of the 
order which had bound the general to them : discussions, orders and di- 
rections, letters, reports and records, the preparation of documents and 
the drafting of decisions. 

For in all these years he spoke only of rules and directions, and he oc- 
cupied himself only with matters of administration. No longer was he 
swayed by passion ; no longer was he to be turned aside by either vexation 
or joy. He was not wanting in love, but it was a temperate love, shared 
equally by all the brothers of the order, far removed from a profound 
affection for any particular brother. A higher necessity had for all time 
taken possession of his personal feelings, and now regulated them in 
accordance with the interests of the entire community. 

His countenance changed from hour to hour. He laughed when it was 
necessary to laugh, and he let his features become cold in harsh refusal 


when occasion arose. He was severe or lenient, stubborn or yielding, 
blunt or courteous, silent or talkative, according as the business of the 
Society demanded. And the more the order grew, the more its many 
labours spread to the uttermost corners of the earth, the more did the 
face of the general withdraw behind the absolutely impersonal adminis- 
tration of these countless interests and affairs. And so finally he had de- 
parted from them, almost unobserved, peacefully and in the midst of the 
many pressing matters connected with the order. 

In the professed house at Rome, Thursday had been an especially busy 
day, for on the following morning the post was due to leave for Spain, 
and all correspondence for the branches of the order in Spain, Portugal, 
the East Indies and Japan was being prepared. There were statements of 
accounts to approve, lists of newly entered and dismissed members to be 
returned with comments thereon ; there were questions to be answered, 
unintelligible statements to be amplified, new decisions to be issued, in- 
quiries to be ordered ; the brothers who were to preach and those who 
were to be instructors were to be clearly indicated ; there were matters 
concerning the acceptance of converted heathens to be dealt with, and the 
number of missionaries who were to be sent to the new branch estab- 
lishments to be determined. Specially difficult letters had to be sent to the 
kings of Spain and Portugal ; in these the effect of each word had to be 
carefully considered in order that Philip II might command his Flem- 
ish bishops to admit the order into the Netherlands, and that John III 
might assist the mission which had only recently been sent to Abyssinia. 

For some days, Ignatius had been in bad health, but he would not on 
that account lay down his work. In the afternoon, he was still engaged 
on a long letter, carefully correcting any word that was not altogether 
well chosen ; he had studied some documents and inquired after various 
details of the correspondence which had not yet been dealt with. 

In the middle of his labours, a bitter taste came into his mouth, and 
he felt that he was now to die. His secretary, Polanco, was called, and 
he bade him hasten to the Vatican and beg the pope for his blessing, as 
he was approaching his end. 

Polanco was very much concerned over this inopportune commission, 
which threatened to disturb him in the pressing preparation of the Span- 
ish post. "Do you really feel so bad, Father?" he asked. "Will it not be 
soon enough in the morning?" And he pointed out that a number of im- 
portant letters had still to be finished, and that these must at all costs be 
dispatched on the following morning. 

Ignatius understood the justifiable anxiety of his conscientious secre- 


tary, and he dismissed him, saying resignedly : "I would rather it were 
today than tomorrow, yet do as you deem best." 

And so it happened that, while it had been possible to dispatch the 
Spanish mail at the proper time, the founder of the order passed silently 
away almost unnoticed in the night of Thursday, without the pope's 
blessing, indeed, without extreme unction. 



Grace and Salvation Through Good Works 

TTGNATIUS handed down to his disciples as their spiritual inheritance 
JL the doctrine of the supreme importance of the human will. By a 
strange concatenation of events, this theological doctrine was, a hundred 
years after the death of the founder of the order, to lead to one of the 
most astonishing of political and social controversies. During the reign of 
le roi Soleil, the dispute between the Jesuits and the Jansenists agitated 
not only the whole Court of Versailles, the king's mistresses, his minis- 
ters and courtiers, but also politicians and professors, society ladies and 
simple nuns, and large sections of the population. All manner of influ- 
ences became involved in the controversy: persons who had hitherto 
never given a thought to divine grace and its efficacy suddenly found 
that they had no other interest in life than to support to the utmost of 
their power one or other of the parties. This strange dispute even formed 
the subject of discussion in the salons, and eventually led to an unparal- 
leled spiritual and social disaster : eminent thinkers such as Pascal ded- 
icated their leisure to the controversy, and no less a personage than 
Voltaire exercised his wit on the vexed topic of "grace." 

In the sixteenth century, just as the doctrines preached by Ignatius 
were beginning to spread abroad, the great Reformation movement in- 
augurated by Luther and Calvin extended over Europe, and it was not 
long before Loyola's doctrine of the saving power of the application of 
the will and of good works became the vital point in the fight between 
Catholicism and the Protestant innovations. With this in mind, Igna- 
tius had himself, in the appendix to his Spiritual Exercises, impressed 
upon his disciples that, while retaining their reverence for divine grace, 
they must by no means overlook the importance of the human will, as 
the heretics had done : "We should not lay so much stress ^>n the doc- 
trine of grace as thereby to encourage the holding of that noxious doc- 
trine which denies the existence of free will. We should r therefore, only 
speak of faith and grace in such a manner that our teaching may, with 



the help of God, redound to His greater honour, and, above all in these 
dangerous times, certainly not in such a way that good works and free 
will are thought to be of lesser importance, or are even regarded as of 
no value at all." For the leaders of the Reformation denied most em- 
phatically that human merit and free will were of any moral value ; they 
preached in the most violent terms that he who believed in the possibility 
of the freedom of the will and of salvation through good works was a 
sinner, in that he assumed to be superior to the Almighty. 

Calvin sharply asserted that Catholicism cast man, "intoxicated with 
his imaginary power, into destruction," and inflated him "with heathen 
presumption against his Creator, so that he finally ascribes the credit 
for his righteousness as much to himself as to God." 

The great Protestant divines adhered immovably to the doctrine that 
the human race was irrevocably doomed to destruction by reason of its 
original sin, and that the sinner could expect salvation only through di- 
vine grace. This view had already been decisively formulated by Luther 
when he made the statement that man "is not only a sinner but even sin 
itself" ; he is unf ree "like a clod, a stone, a piece of clay, or a pillar of 

In his famous manifesto against Erasmus, De servo arbitrio, Luther 
maintains that divine grace alone accomplishes all things, and the human 
will nothing ; "so that our judgment tells us that, neither in a man nor in 
an angel, nor in any other created being, can such a thing as free will 

On the other hand, Luther holds that salvation can come through faith 
alone. "Faith is by no means the same as free will . . . faith is every- 
thing. . . ." As St. Paul taught, faith consists in the knowledge that 
Christ died to save all men. He alone is saved to whom grace is given to 
believe steadfastly in the divine mission of the Saviour : he who does 
not believe this "is an infidel, and remains a sinner though he should die 
in the accomplishment of good works." 

While Luther, in words such as the above, tried to point out another 
way to justification, Calvin had shut the door on even this last chance of 
delivery from damnation, since he denied all merit not only to good 
works and good will, but also to faith as such. He had thus carried the 
doctrine of original sin to its inexorable conclusion. While, according to 
Luther, all true believers are "justified," no matter who or what they 
may be, Calvin regards even believers as damned if God so wills, "since 
all is in His power and subject to His will." Before time was, the Creator 
destined one part of the human race to eternal life, and the remainder to 


everlasting damnation. The entire universe is subject to the laws of pre- 
destination, "that eternal dispensation of God, which prescribes what 
every human being shall be." 

Such a theory must necessarily deny in the most emphatic terms the 
freedom of man's will, and his ability to contribute to his own moral re- 
generation and justification. The doctrine of predestination denied to 
mortal man any possibility of influencing his destiny. Thus Calvin states 
in his Institutes of the Christian Religion: "Inasmuch as the human will 
is fettered by sin and a slave, it can achieve no manner of good ; it is en- 
tirely devoid of this power of doing anything of the kind." 

In his famous manifesto addressed to Emperor Charles V and the 
princes of the Holy Roman Empire, the Genevan reformer accuses his 
Catholic adversaries of being unable, by reason of their faith in the 
meritoriousness of good will and good works, "to understand how great 
are the wounds which our human nature has borne since the Fall. With 
us, they admit the existence of original sin, but minimize its importance 
by regarding the power of man as merely impaired, and not as totally 

"We, on the other hand," continues Calvin, "maintain that our nature 
is so corrupt that it is quite incapable of good. . . . We convince man 
of his wretchedness and of his powerlessness, and thus bring him into a 
state of true humility, so that he is deprived of all confidence in his own 
powers and puts his trust in God alone." 

In antithesis to this Reformation doctrine, the disciples of Loyola, 
faithful to the Exercises bequeathed to them by their master, upheld in 
the whole of their theology, philosophy and moral teachings the com- 
plete freedom of the human will and the saving grace of good works. 

"The fact that Jesuitism placed free will at the summit," admits Ed- 
gar Quinet, "had the result that its doctrines harmonized with contempo- 
rary strivings after freedom. . . . Luther and Calvin had denied the 
freedom of the will; Loyola's disciples, pressing through this breach 
in their opponents' defences, won over modern men once more precisely 
because of this feeling for freedom." 

The Jesuits, therefore, endeavoured to stress, within the Catholic sys- 
tem, the doctrine of the freedom of the will : the liberty to choose between 
two opposing factors, between action and inaction, between good and 
evil, between Christ and Lucifer. According as man, with full freedom 
of choice, made his decision, so would he attain to the Kingdom of 
Heaven or be cast into hell. 

Those men who had been educated in the scholastic spirit were, at the 


opening of the new era, familiar with only one method of scientific proof, 
that of quoting from as many as possible of the recognized authorities of 
the past. If they were able to support a thesis with a formidable array of 
such quotations, drawn wherever possible from the Bible or the writings 
of the f athe*s of the Church, their theories were at that period firmly be- 
lieved to be established beyond all possibility of doubt. The idea which is 
so familiar to us, that an experiment or a new theory may prove the error 
of beliefs that have been held for centuries, was quite unknown to that 
age. For this reason, in the great controversy over free will, both parties 
endeavoured to .support their case by citing the largest possible number 
of statements by earlier authorities which were in favour of their views. 

Those who championed the cause of predestination relied chiefly on 
the Biblical narrative of the betrayal of Peter and on the commentaries 
thereon of Chrysostom and Augustine. Chrysostom had declared that 
Peter had denied his Lord "through lack of grace" and had fallen only 
"because God had forsaken him." Augustine had further stated that 
God had deprived Peter of grace "in order to prove that man can do 
nothing without grace." 

But many other passages in the Scriptures seem to support the doc- 
trine of predestination. Does not the Bible contain many passages stat- 
ing that we are all lost sinners, and that man has no hope save in the 
pardoning mercy of God? 

These views were also supported by the words of the Apostle Paul, 
who had taught that man was not justified by his works but by his faith. 
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of 
God that sheweth mercy." (.Romans ix, 16.) 

The strongest evidence in support of this doctrine was, of course, de- 
rived from the writings of that father of the Church, Augustine, who 
was regarded as an authority second in importance only to the Holy 
Scriptures themselves. The reformers claimed that he had definitely 
taught the doctrine of predestination; and that, for Augustine, Adam 
alone had possessed liberty not to sin, while, owing to the fall of the fa- 
ther of the human race, all his descendants had been brought into the 
hopeless bondage of sin. This state of corruption could not be remedied 
by good works, no matter what their merit, and God Himself alone was 
able to restore the purity of man's original nature; for this purpose 
He had sent His Son, Christ, into the world, and suffered Him to die 
upon the cross for our redemption. 

Similar support was claimed from the writing of Thomas Aquinas, 
the greatest of all the scholastics : it was argued that he also had admitted 


that grace was given by God regardless of the merits and good will of 
man himself. It was asserted that Aquinas held the view that it had been 
preordained from all time that in the Kingdom of Heaven the higher 
places had been set apart for the elect, and the lower for the reprobate, 
and that God had, before the world was created, decided the exact fate of 
every man. 

Such arguments in favour of predestination might be regarded as 
overwhelming, but there was an equal wealth of arguments at the dis- 
posal of those who maintained contrary views ; and, strange as it may 
seem, the champions of free will and of salvation through works relied 
upon exactly the same teachers and writings as their opponents. 

They claimed that their view that man is free from any kind of inner 
compulsion is manifest chiefly from Holy Writ, which contained pas- 
sages such as : "Unto Him be everlasting glory : though tempted to sin, 
yet sinned he not : evil might he have done, yet he did no wrong." Jere- 
miah had definitely proclaimed : "Behold, I set before you the way of 
life, and the way of death." (Jeremiah, xxi, 8.) Moreover, a close study 
of the New Testament revealed many passages which seemed to refer 
distinctly to the freedom of man's will and the meritoriousness of good 
works. (Romans n, 7.) 

As for the early fathers, it was again St. Chrysostom especially, whose 
dicta were freely quoted by the protagonists of free will. They even 
found support for their contention in the writings of Augustine, for he 
had once stated that "every man has freedom to choose either that which 
is good, and to be a good tree, or that which is evil, and be an evil tree." 
In his writings against the belief in astrology, the Bishop of Hippo had 
definitely stated: "God has created me with freedom of choice; if I sin, 
it is I who am guilty." 

Like the determinists, their opponents quoted freely from the doc- 
trines of Thomas Aquinas in support of their case. The latter had taught 
that the human will was not necessarily compelled to follow any specific 
course of action, but that man was much more free "to decide what was 
good according to the dictates of his reason" ; if this were not so, "advice, 
admonition, commandments, prohibitions, rewards and punishments 
would be futile." 

Perplexities from Stagira to Trent 

It may appear somewhat strange that those who upheld two dia- 
metrically opposed views were able to bring forward, in support of their 


respective cases, incisive quotations from the same sources. The explana- 
tion of this surprising circumstance is to be found in the fact that a prob- 
lem was involved which had always been accompanied by the most 
profound uncertainty and perplexity. 

The question at issue touches on one of the greatest difficulties of re- 
ligious thought. On the one hand, man's fundamental moral feelings de- 
mand the recognition of the freedom of his will, for this would seem to 
be an essential premise in any attempt to evaluate the ethical significance 
of human actions. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to reconcile 
the idea of free will with the belief in an omnipotent and omniscient 
creator and ruler of the universe. Either man is a free agent, in which 
case God is not omnipotent, or else God's will governs all creation, even 
to the slightest emotion in the human soul, or to the falling of a withered 
leaf, in which case it would seem that there can be no question of any 
human freedom of action. 

This acute antithesis in the conception of the value or lack of it of 
the will and of good works could not for long remain confined to the 
struggle between Catholicism and the Reformation movement : the Cath- 
olic Church itself soon became divided into two hostile camps, and was 
thus involved in a protracted and violent controversy. It was merely 
necessary to ascribe somewhat more importance to grace for the Calvin- 
istic doctrine of predestination to be reached : if, on the other hand, a 
little too much stress was laid on the question of free will, the conse- 
quence would be that denial of divine omnipotence which was the heresy 
of the Pelagians. For why should it have been necessary for Christ to 
die for our salvation, if it were within the power of every man, of his 
own volition and by his own good works, to make atonement for his sins 
and to achieve his own salvation ? Hence, according to the true Catholic 
faith, there was on either side a danger of falling into mortal sin, and 
there was great need to be careful to keep to the middle path of safety. 

This insoluble question was not one that perplexed Christendom alone, 
for, as far back as we can trace the history of the human mind, we find 
a blind groping, an astounding lack of precision whenever this weighty, 
fundamental question arose. In the writings of the Hebrew prophets, 
who generally maintain in a most unambiguous manner that man is a 
free agent, there are passages (Jer. xxxi, 32; Is. vi, 7; Ezek. n, 19) 
which cannot be reconciled with the rest, and which render obscure the 
otherwise definite statements concerning man's freedom. 

Even the great philosophers of antiquity, acute and clear as they were 
in solving other spiritual problems, fail to help us in this particular mat- 


ter. Neither Plato nor Aristotle was able to furnish a satisfactory reply 
to the question of the relationship between the human will and divine 

Hence, down to our own time, efforts have again and again been made 
to claim Aristotle as a protagonist of determinism, although the sage of 
Stagira has always been regarded as the classical exponent of the doc- 
trine of free will. Even in his writings may be found contradictory state- 
ments which are susceptible of varying interpretations. 

Both Plato and Aristotle endeavour to make a distinction between 
those actions which are free and those which must be regarded as unmis- 
takably preordained. Plato regarded freedom of will as clearly a ques- 
tion of reason, and thus arrived at the conclusion that the man who was 
guided by reason was to be regarded as free, and that he who, on the 
contrary, was controlled by his desires, was not free. Accordingly, he 
considered that only by the victory of reason over desire could man free 
himself from his bonds. 

In the third book of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle controverts this 
theory of Plato's by pointing out that the yielding to a desire involves 
an act of free volition : he regards as involuntary actions only those done 
by man under compulsion or unconsciously. But he regards as volun- 
tary all those acts of which the impulse to do them originates in ourselves 
and which, therefore, may be done or left undone. In the mastery over 
our deeds and desires, in the freedom of volition in regard to whether 
we do something or leave it undone, Aristotle finds the ground for praise 
or blame, reward or punishment : it is thus within our power to be good 
or bad. 

These considerations, however, leave unsettled the point how human 
freedom of action is compatible with fate and a predetermined cosmic or- 
der. The Neo-Platonic school, therefore, tried to solve this contradiction 
by assuming a divine "pre-knowledge," according to which the Creator 
had from the beginning of things the faculty of knowing the future free 
decisions of men, and of ordering the world in this sense. 

It was, however, inevitable that compromises of this nature should re- 
sult in an unedif ying confusion of ideas, and should lead to the age-long, 
abstruse controversies of the theologians. When, therefore, the Chris- 
tian theories of "original sin" and "grace" were grafted on to a problem 
already more than sufficiently involved in its nature, a state of absolute 
chaos arose. 

When, in the seventeenth century, this dispute over the question of 
grace had reached its climax, Voltaire wrote with as much pungency as 


malice that the question had finally "led to the labyrinth of fatalism and 
freedom in which the ancients had themselves wandered aimlessly, and 
in which humanity has scarcely any means of guidance. But, while the 
ancient philosophers always carried on their controversies in a peaceful 
manner, the disputes of the theologians are often bloody and always 

These theological disputes had begun as early as the fifth century of the 
Christian era, for even in those primitive times it had not been possible 
to arrive at agreement on the question of the extent to which salva- 
tion could be achieved by grace or by human merit. The Briton, Pela- 
gius, was the first who, in opposition to the teachings of Augustine, had 
flatly denounced the theory of damnation through original sin. He argued 
that there was a "possibility" of will in other words, human freedom 
by which man could at any time discriminate between good and evil. 
Pelagius and his followers taught that all mortals were born devoid 
alike of virtue and of sin ; God had given man only the aptitude, the abil- 
ity to will or not to will ; the action itself was man's very own, and it pro- 
ceeded solely from his own free will. 

The Pelagian doctrines caused no small stir in the contemporary 
Christian world, and their most violent opponent was Augustine himself. 
In his polemical treatise, De gratia contra Pelagium, he upheld the im- 
portance of divine grace as a necessary assistance, and disputed the value 
of human will and deed without such aid ; he branded the Pelagian views 
as absolutely contrary to the true spirit of the Christian faith. 

This great controversy was eventually brought before the Council of 
Ephesus, where it was decided against Pelagius ; his doctrines were con- 
demned as heretical, and he himself was excommunicated. But, immedi- 
ately afterwards, arose the first Christian compromise in the form of the 
doctrine later known under the name of "Semi-Pelagianism." This rep- 
resented an attempt to bridge over the differences between the doctrines 
of Pelagius and of Augustine. 

Augustine offered determined opposition also to the teachings of these 
Semi-Pelagians, and his last theses, De praedestinatione Sanctorum, and 
De dono perseverantiae, were aimed particularly at Semi-Pelagianism 
and its chief exponent, Cassianus. 

The victory of the Augustinian doctrine over Pelagianism firmly 
established the trend of Christian thought for more than a thousand 
years. Nearly all the great teachers of scholasticism, the Protestant re- 
formers and, finally, in the seventeenth century, the Jansenists, were in- 
spired by the teaching of Augustine. 




j 8 


w 1 
M 3 







Nevertheless, traces of the prohibited Pelagian doctrines continued to 
survive, and not infrequently did it occur that efforts were made by the 
mediaeval philosophers and theologians to attribute greater merit in the 
doctrine of salvation to the human will and to good works. This endeav- 
our is most clearly discernible in the writings of the great scholastic, 
Duns Scotus. Only once, and then it was the achievement of a great poet, 
was the contradiction between these two fundamental views of Christian 
theolqgy bridged over at least in appearance. By means of an artistic 
play on words, Dante, in the sixteenth canto of his "Purgatory," was 
able to establish a satisfactory relationship between grace and merit ; he 
assumed that man's actions and divine power so react upon one another 
that the possession of grace presupposes that of merit and vice versa, and 
thus man finally achieves his salvation and eternal bliss as much by his 
own efforts as by divine grace. 

Ye who live now the cause of all assign 
To Heaven above as though necessity 
Moved all with it along predestined lines ; 

If this were so then in your deeds would lie 
Free will destroyed and 'twere unjust to give 
Joy for good deeds, for evil, misery. 

Ye from the heavens your impulse first receive 
I say not all but granting that I say 
Light too is given, or well or ill to live 

And free volition, which, although it stay, 
Faint in first flight, with those star destinies, 
Conquers at last, if trained in wisdom's way. 

Ye to a better Nature, Might more wise, 

Though free, are subject ; and that makes in you 
The mind which is not subject to the skies. 

After the genius of a poet had thus produced what appeared to be a 
satisfactory synthesis, the Christian world once more lost the unity be- 
tween predestination and salvation through good works : from then on- 
wards, grace and human endeavour were again irreconcilably opposed. 

Since no other poet arose, like Dante, to declare that grace and human 
merit all formed part of one harmonious whole, controversies and in- 


creasingly more violent feuds broke out. When at last, in the early days 
of the Renaissance, the cardinals, bishops and leading theologians of the 
Catholic Church assembled at Trent to give a decision on this difficult 
question, they were unable, despite unending discussions, to arrive at a 
satisfactory reconciliation of the opposing schools of thought. Even 
though the Council of Trent, having regard to the teachings of the re- 
formers, was forced to condemn as heretical the complete denial of free 
will, it was, on the other hand, by no means in a position to approve a 
doctrine which was in harmony with that which had long ago been 
anathematized as heretical when propounded by Pelagius. 

Accordingly, at the sixth session of the Council of Trent, an extremely 
cautious, complicated and ambiguously worded decision was adopted. 
The first part laid down, with apparent excessive clarity: "Whoever 
states that, since Adam's sin, the free will of man has been lost and no 
more exists, let him be excommunicate anathema sit!" 

Following upon this clause, however, it is laid down that man, despite 
his freedom of will, despite his good intentions and good works, can 
never be justified of himself alone, since original sin prevents this. Com- 
plicated theological reasons were therefore invented to reconcile these 
contradictory theses, it being laid down that man, through the death of 
Christ, had become justified and had received the gift of grace through 
no merit of his own : with this gift of grace he also became subject to the 
influence of the Holy Ghost, and, if he obeyed the Holy Ghost, he was 
enabled, through the aid of divine grace, to justify himself by good 

Although this decision of the Tridentine Council was elevated to a 
dogma, and was endowed with infallibility, it was nevertheless a mere 
compromise. It is somewhat significant that, immediately after its adop- 
tion by the council, the great controversy between the advocates of both 
views broke out in the Catholic Church itself, a controversy which, if 
possible, exceeded in violence and obstinacy the earlier quarrels between 
Augustine and Pelagius. 

The Pope's Comma 

This great squabble really arose out of the excessive zeal and the exag- 
gerated pedantry of a learned professor. Doctor Michael Baius, the lead- 
ing theologian at the ancient and famous University of Louvain, had 
undertaken the task of refuting the Calvinistic heresies by means of a 
fundamentally scientific thesis. He accordingly made an exhaustive 


study of the early fathers, in order to strengthen in the most effective 
manner the Catholic view of the freedom of the will. 

But good Father Baius was rather too scientific, for he studied the 
fathers, and more particularly Augustine, so long that, without being 
aware of it himself, his views gradually changed until they were Calvin- 
istic rather than Catholic. Instead of defending free will, as he had in- 
tended at the outset, he ended by proclaiming predestination and the lack 
of freedom of the will. 

Scarcely had the Louvain professor's book appeared when a number of 
learned monks of the Dominican order fell upon him and denounced him 
to the papal Curia. Rome at once pronounced as erroneous seventy-three 
of Baius's propositions which were contrary to the doctrine of free will. 
When the former general of the Dominican order himself became pope, 
he issued in 1567 a bull of condemnation in form against "heretical and 
dangerous principles" such as Baius had advanced. 

Baius's fellow-professors at Louvain were greatly incensed by this 
bull of condemnation launched against one of their colleagues. The papal 
bull was regarded as a slur on the whole of the university, until suddenly, 
after making a close study of the document received from Rome, one of 
the professors made a saving discovery. One of the most vital clauses in 
the bull was, in the absence of a comma, quite ambiguous, the meaning 
differing according to the position of this comma. In the first case, it 
could be taken as implying that the views in question were open to discus- 
sion in Baius's sense ; in the second, they were to be regarded as heretical 
in Baius's sense. A great discussion then arose over this comma, to which 
the whole university listened with bated breath. 

In his spirited study, Dogma and Compulsory Doctrine, the psycho- 
analyst, Theodor Reik, has commented on the fact that all religious con- 
troversies tend to become concentrated on apparently unimportant de- 
tails, but that these are debated in an all the more heated manner. This 
"relegation to trifles," which Reik demonstrates in detail in connexion 
with the Arian controversy of the fourth century, became clearly evident 
in the case of Doctor Baius : the dispute whether man's will was free or 
not now turned on a comma in the papal bull. 

Finally, the Louvain professors communicated with Rome, and asked 
with all due reverence to be informed of the position in which the Holy 
Father desired the comma to be inserted. The pope, however, deemed it 
expedient not to give a definite reply, his only answer to the professors 
taking the form of a copy of the bull containing not a single comma. 

Since, therefore, no one knew what opinion was held by the Holy See 


itself, both parties were enabled to argue to their hearts' content over the 
question of free will. This was the moment in which the Jesuits, as pro- 
fessed advocates of the doctrine of free will, decided, with their disci- 
plined spiritual organization, to enter the lists in defence of the cause. 
When the excitement in Louvain over the "comma-less bull" had some- 
what subsided, Doctor Baius remained immune from attack until the 
Jesuits succeeded in obtaining for their order a theological chair of their 
own in Louvain. As its first occupant, they appointed Roberto Bellar- 
mine, one of the most gifted and learned scholars among the younger 
members of the order. 

As a Jesuit, Bellarmine had long since learned to handle external mat- 
ters with caution and diplomatic skill. He therefore held his peace for a 
long time, and silently collected his damning evidence. Then, in the years 
1570 to 1576, he delivered a series of lectures, in which he violently at- 
tacked his colleague Baius, appearing in a very skilful manner to adhere 
to the doctrine of grace while in reality he almost entirely eliminated it 
from -his system. Grace, he admitted in his lectures, was certainly neces- 
sary in order that man might acquire merit through its aid, but grace in 
itself alone was ineffective, unless man did not resist its promptings but 
rather collaborated with it. 

Bellarmine dealt in a particularly subtle manner with the fine distinc- 
tions between gratia cfficax ("effective grace") and gratia sufficiens 
("sufficient grace"), thereby rendering the problem, already a somewhat 
complicated one, completely involved and obscure. 

In discriminating between these two kinds of grace, Bellarmine held 
that God by gratia efficax called man in such a way that he could foresee 
that man would obey him, whereas gratia sufficients was given to mortal 
man in a measure which was not calculated to move him to harmony and 
collaboration with the divine purpose. 

But despite the emphatic manner in which Bellarmine defended the 
cause of free will against the whole world, he was too good a diplomat 
ever to expose himself to criticism in regard to this delicate question. 
Other members of the Jesuit order were less cautious, and, impelled by 
their devoted zeal, became hopelessly involved in the most hazardous of 

The Uproar Among the Theologians 

Luis Molina, the Jesuit professor at the University of Evora in Portu- 
gal, had for a long time past been engaged on the compilation of his 


monumental work, a commentary on certain precepts of Thomas Aqui- 
nas. Molina's voluminous tome was entitled Concordia liberi arbitrii cum 
gratiae donis, and in it the author tried to bring together all that his 
predecessors, Bellarmine and other theologians, had thought out on the 
relation between grace and free will. 

Such was the difficulty of the problem that Molina's solution also could 
not but lack illuminating clarity. He taught that man could, through his 
natural powers, combined with a "general divine co-operation," attain to 
a knowledge of the Christian mysteries, in which case God would grant 
him that grace of faith which was essential for his salvation. This grace 
was at the free disposal of all, and whether it was effectively granted de- 
pended chiefly on the free will of the person called. Divine help was nec- 
essary to give an impulse to the act of volition ; but once this impulse was 
given, it was a matter for man himself to decide whether or not he would 
accept of heavenly grace. 

As though this theory were not already sufficiently complicated, Mo- 
lina assumes God to possess a "middle pre-knowledge," a scientia media, 
by means of which the Creator is able at any time to foresee what will be 
the conduct of the man to whom grace is given. This scientia media 
embraces all objects which are neither possible alone nor actual alone, 
but which are both possible and actual. "They are merely possible in the 
sense that they may, but never will, take effect, and they are actual in the 
sense that they would exist if certain circumstances held good." 

According to Molina, God foresees from all eternity with this "middle 
knowledge" how man will act in every conceivable combination of cir- 
cumstances, and solely on the basis of this foreknowledge He decides 
how His gift of grace is to be distributed among men. Effective grace, 
gratia efficax, is that which God foresees will inevitably be accepted ; suf- 
ficient grace, gratia sufficiens, is certainly adequate in itself to ensure sal- 
vation, but God foresees that those to whom it is granted will reject it. 

The most important point in this system of "Molinism" was the as- 
sumption that man is, through his will, enabled constantly to resist grace, 
so that it depends on him whether it is effective or not. This had a sus- 
piciously Pelagian flavour, for whoever postulated the human will as a 
decisive factor at once belittled the importance of original sin and of 
grace, and even expressed a doubt of the divine omnipotence. Even the 
Jesuit theologians, therefore, who were the most deeply convinced of 
the freedom of human will, were somewhat perturbed when Molina's 
book appeared. 

All the prominent theologians in the order, Bellarmine equally with 


Suarez, Valentia and the rest, were of the unanimous opinion that Mo- 
lina had gone a little too far, and the Evora professor encountered im- 
mediate resistance in his own order. Nevertheless, the violent attacks of 
the Dominicans upon Evora compelled the Jesuits, for purposes of soli- 
darity, to take the part of their own member. 

Ever since the great Dominican, Thomas Aquinas, had become the un- 
questioned leader among the scholastics, the members of this order had 
regarded themselves as the sole authorities in all theological questions. 
They proudly pointed to the great number of eminent divines among 
their fraternity, and were by no means pleased when members of other 
religious brotherhoods contested their superiority in this respect. 

The Spanish Dominicans, therefore, fell upon the Jesuit professor 
with implacable animosity. The length to which this enmity was soon car- 
ried is clearly seen from a letter addressed by Cardinal de Castro to Pope 
Clement VIII : "In their public speeches and lectures, the Dominicans 
denounce Molina's book as erroneous, and they warn people to beware 
of those who hold his doctrines, for the latter are heretical. . . . The 
two parties are fighting their case before the Inquisition tribunal and be- 
fore the nuncio : the Jesuits are thus endeavouring to secure a declara- 
tion that their views are orthodox, and to have those of their opponents 
condemned as incompatible with the doctrine of free will. . . . All man- 
ner of persons are involved in this dispute, learned and unlearned men, 
partisans of the Jesuits as well as those of their adversaries. . . ." 

The Curia saw that matters could no longer be allowed to take their 
course, and both parties were enjoined to suspend the debate, as the pope 
reserved the right to give the decision himself. 

From that time onwards, Rome became the centre of the most des- 
perate intrigues for and against Molinism. The pope wavered helplessly 
and irresolutely between the various petitions and memoranda which 
were showered upon him, arrived at decisions on one day and rescinded 
them on the next ; at one moment he ordered Molina's book to be burned, 
and then, on the intervention of Acquaviva, the general of the Jesuit 
order, he strictly prohibited the prosecution of the proceedings against 

The whole matter had long become merely one of prestige, and for 
this reason the dispute had become embittered. The Jesuits realized that 
the Dominicans sought to rob them of their reputation as scholars, and 
defended themselves desperately against their envenomed antagonists. 
They exerted all the influence at their disposal, issued appeals to their 
patrons, and persuaded Philip III, the new king of Spain, as well as the 















'. 1 ' ^*n / 




Empress Maria of Austria and Archduke Albert, to intercede with the 
pope on behalf of Molina's Concordia. The universities which were 
under Jesuit influence Ingolstadt, Graz, Dillingen, Wiirzburg, Mainz, 
Treves and Vienna had to publish learned theses in favour of Molin- 
ism; as a counterblast, their opponents issued twenty-two treatises by 
universities, bishops and eminent theologians condemning Molina's 
views as heretical. 

In 1598, there was delivered in Rome a huge wooden coffer contain- 
ing the whole of the documents which had been submitted to the Spanish 
Inquisition in the form of reports, judgments, expert opinions, and simi- 
lar material. A committee specially appointed by the pope made a 
detailed examination of these papers, and finally issued judgment con- 
demning Molina. This by no means satisfied the pope, who annulled the 
whole of the proceedings and gave orders for a fresh investigation to be 
held. After a further eight months, a second adverse verdict was given 
against the Concordia, and once more the pope did not dare publicly to 
repudiate the Jesuits. 

Finally, Clement VIII was seized with such a passion for the whole 
case that he spent night after night in perusing the records, and, so that 
he might be able to decide the matter rightly, he personally made an ex- 
haustive study of the writings of the early fathers. But when, in due 
course, the vast mass of expert opinions and documents which had been 
prepared were brought to his room, the Holy Father was considerably 
startled, and despairingly asked if he were really expected to read all that. 

A new method was then tried : the whole dispute was to be settled by 
means of oral proceedings in the presence of the pope. In 1602, the cele- 
brated Congregationes de auxiliis began their activities, and by the end of 
the following year had held sixty-eight meetings. A diligent comparison 
was made between the doctrines of Augustine and of Molina, and then 
the alleged points of resemblance between the Concordia and the writ- 
ings of the Semi-Pelagian Cassianus were thoroughly scrutinized. The 
matter gave rise to endless debates ; Clement VIII himself wrote a num- 
ber of reports, but he died before a decision was reached by the Congrega- 
tiones de auxiliis. 

Cardinal Borghese ascended the papal throne as Paul V. The meet- 
ings of the congregations lasted for a further two years, until finally a 
verdict was issued condemning Molinism. The pope had had a bull of 
anathema prepared, and the Dominicans were jubilant over their final 
victory, when an unexpected political incident saved the Jesuits. 

The Curia had become involved in a serious dispute with the Venetian 


Republic, and the Jesuits so zealously espoused the Roman cause that the 
pope could not bring himself to offend an order which had rendered such 
faithful service to him. He therefore rescinded the bull which had al- 
ready been prepared for his signature, dissolved the congregations, and 
ordered both parties to let the whole matter rest. 

Thus, after a continuous controversy lasting eighteen years, this dis- 
pute over grace terminated without any definite decision. Both orders 
were enjoined to instruct their members strictly to abstain from any dis- 
cussion of the question of Molinism, and peacefully to await a final de- 
cision by the Holy See : this final decision, however, has not been issued 
up to the present. 

The Jesuits, however, celebrated in Spain the indecisive termination 
of the Molinist controversy as a great victory for the doctrine of free 
will. In order to enable the lower classes to appreciate the meaning of 
this victory, they had huge notices displayed in the streets with the in- 
scription Molina Victor, and, at Villagarcia, in celebration of the official 
verdict in favour of free will, they held a magnificent bullfight, while 
other Spanish Jesuit communities, in honour of the Concordia liberi 
arbitrii cum gratiae donis, gave magnificent bals masques and fireworks 
displays that aroused the enthusiasm of the entire population. 

Grace in the Salons 

With these bullfights, bats masques and fireworks displays, there began 
a new era in the controversy over free will : from this time onwards, the 
problem ceased to be one which concerned only the chancelleries of car- 
dinals and ecclesiastical councils, the subject of records and reports 
which were as dry as they were learned : it became a topic of everyday 
life. The dispute over the importance of divine grace continued its mad 
career especially in fashionable chateaux and literary salons, and was 
pursued by elegant aristocrats, society beauties and courtiers, and by 
abbes and confessors, some of them good-humoured and some malicious. 

Curiously enough, the second stage of this controversy, remarkable 
as it was for its ever-changing, variegated and mentally stimulating 
phases, again began with the exaggerated pedantry of a Louvain pro- 
fessor, who had even less reason than his predecessor, Baius, to antic- 
ipate that his exhaustive investigations would lead to so heated a con- 
troversy. Cornelius Jansen, a Louvain professor, and subsequently 
Bishop of Ypres, had for twenty years diligently studied the works of 
Augustine, and had then written a ponderous tome entitled Augustinus, 


or The Doctrines of St. Augustine regarding the Health, Sickness and 
Medicine of the Soul. 

In this work, Jansen reiterated the already familiar conviction that 
man had, by reason of Adam's fall, lost the freedom he enjoyed in 
Paradise, that he had in every respect become evil and corrupt, and 
could never through his own efforts attain salvation. He was totally un- 
able to love God with a pure heart, and was constantly under the influ- 
ence of his sinful lusts, so that all his works, inward and outward, were 
devoid of merit. Only divine grace could release the human will from 
its entanglement of carnal desires, and bring about man's conversion 
to that state of true purity and bliss which was acceptable to God : he 
to whom God granted the gift of grace was saved, and he to whom it was 
not given remained for ever caught in original sin. 

The good Bishop of Ypres was by nature anything but a religious 
fanatic or even a militant reformer : during the whole of his life he per- 
formed, to the satisfaction of everyone, the duties assigned to him, and 
gave no cause for complaint. He died at peace with all the world, before 
his great work Augustinus was published. 

That this book became the storm-centre of an unprecedentedly violent 
religious and political controversy was due to the activities of an ec- 
clesiastic who was a close friend of Jansen Jean du Vergier de 
Hauranne, later Abbot of Saint-Cyran and regarded it as a debt of 
honour to publish the great book of the late bishop and to disseminate 
the ideas it contained. 

The abbot had influential friends in the highest social circles in Paris, 
and his enthusiasm quickly aroused in fashionable salons a lively inter- 
est in the problem of grace. Very soon, in addition to fashionable in- 
terest in this problem, other personal and political influences became 
involved, and so it was that the dispute over the learned work of the de- 
ceased Bishop Jansen suddenly developed into one of the most important 
matters affecting the French court and state. 

"It would certainly seem," wrote Voltaire, "that there was no partic- 
ular advantage in believing with Jansen that God makes impossible 
demands on humanity : this is neither a philosophic nor a comforting 
doctrine. But the secret satisfaction of belonging to some kind of party, 
the hatred of the Jesuits, the desire for notoriety, and the general mental 
unrest all these factors soon resulted in the formation of a sect." 

The principal cause of the further spread of the movement was the 
strange state of affairs at the celebrated Abbey of Port Royal, near Paris. 
Up to the beginning of the seventeenth century, life in this nunnery, as 


was customary at that time, had been both cheerful and secular. At 
carnival times, innumerable bals masqws had been given, in which the! 
gaily dressed nuns had taken part in a most high-spirited manner. 

Things had come to such a pass at Port Royal that no particular com- 
ment, much less anything in the nature of a scandal, was caused by the 
fact that in 1602, the leading advocate of the supreme court, Antoine 
Arnauld, obtained from the king the appointment of his eleven-year-old 
daughter, Marie Angelique, as abbess of the convent. The young abbess, 
like the other nuns, lived a gay and worldly life. A band of young gentle- 
men paid regular visits to Port Royal ; there were excursions and par- 
ties, and in their leisure hours the nuns read fashionable novels instead 
of their breviaries. 

All this came to an unexpected end when, a few years later, a Capu- 
chin monk called Basilius visited Port Royal. He also had once been of 
a very worldly disposition, and had been expelled from his monastery for 
bad conduct ; afterwards he had led a roving existence, and, when oc- 
casionally he was suddenly overcome by a fit of pious repentance, he 
would enter the pulpit, and, with the most convincing intimacy, describe 
the joys of an unworldly life. 

The Abbess Angelique, who had reached the age of sixteen, regarded 
it as her duty to invite the visitor to preach, and, as chance would have it 
that Basilius was just then in the throes of one of his attacks of abject 
penitence, his edifying sermon had an overwhelming effect on the in- 
mates of the nunnery. Angelique resolved wholly to amend her mode 
of life ; she immediately hastened to her cell, stripped off all her fine linen, 
and put on coarsely made undergarments in token of her penitence. 
From that time onwards, she slept on a rough straw palliasse, and caused 
her nuns to do the same. 

So that it should be quite clear what sort of change had taken place 
in the inmates of Port Royal, Angelique shortly afterwards had the con- 
vent surrounded by a stout wall, which shut off all communication with 
the outside world. She herself refused her own family admittance to 
the abbey, and spoke to her relatives only through a small grille in the 

This conversion coincided with the change in the trend of thought in 
Parisian society, so that the convent soon gained high esteem in fash- 
ionable circles. Many young girls, including Angelique's sister Catherine 
Agnes Arnauld, joined the community, and, when Angelique decided, 
having regard to the unhealthful and marshy surroundings of Port 
Royal, to transfer the community to Paris, she had no difficulty in raising 


the funds necessary for the building of a fine town house. This was the 
origin of the sister-abbey of Port Royal de Paris. 

The nuns of Port Royal attracted the attention of such great French 
ecclesiastics as Cardinal Berulle and Vincent de Paul, while Francis of 
Sales admitted that he had a "divine love" for Abbess Angelique. The 
removal of the community to Paris also added to the esteem in which 
the nuns were held in social circles, and many of the most distinguished 
men and women of that period became their closest adherents. 

Meanwhile, however, the deserted Abbey of Port Royal des Champs 
had become the home of an extraordinary community of learned laymen. 
Famous statesmen, lawyers, theologians and philosophers, who were 
under the influence of the Abbot of Saint-Cyran, resolved at his instiga- 
tion to relinquish their worldly careers, and, in imitation of the anchor- 
ites, to settle in the marshes which surrounded the deserted abbey. The 
first of these was the privy councillor and supreme-court advocate, 
Antoine Lemaistre, who decided to desert Parisian society for the soli- 
tude of Port Royal. He was a grandson of the other great advocate, 
Antoine Arnauld, and hence a nephew of Abbess Angelique. At the 
early age of twenty, his rhetorical talents had already attracted much 
attention, and he had speedily become one of the most famous legal ora- 
tors in Paris. At the age of thirty, however, he suddenly began to find 
his fame distasteful, and he became weary of hearing himself praised 
on all sides. Just at this time, he made the acquaintance of the Abbe du 
Vergier de Hauranne, and shortly afterwards it so happened that, dur- 
ing a speech which he was making in the Parlement, his gaze became 
fixed on a dusty crucifix which was hanging in front of him. 

"M. Lemaistre is asleep instead of pleading," remarked Advocate- 
General Talon, causing all present to titter. This was a turning-point in 
the life of Lemaistre. He resolved to abandon his career, and to devote 
his remaining days to prayer and penitence. He therefore withdrew to 
the deserted valley of Port Royal, and settled down in one of the half- 
ruined buildings of the abbey. His brother de Sacy soon followed his 
example, and they were joined by the brothers of Abbess Angelique, 
Robert and Antoine Arnauld. 

More and more members of the Arnauld family retired to Port Royal, 
until finally sixteen of them had assembled there. They were joined by 
other distinguished persons, including such members of the aristocracy 
as the Due de Luynes, and the Baron de Pontchateau, learned men and 
devout ecclesiastics such as Nicole, Tillemont, Hamon, and Singlin. 

All these men had formerly occupied comfortable and highly esteemed 


social positions, and were members of distinguished and wealthy fami- 
lies. Like Lemaistre, all of them had been impelled to settle at Port Royal 
by a sudden feeling of revulsion against their former lives. This was in 
almost every case due to the instigation of the Abbot of Saint-Cyran, the 
fascination of whose personality was felt to the same extraordinary 
extent both by the nuns and by the settlers. 

Their first concern was to drain the valley by digging ditches, raise 
the floor of the church in order to preserve it against damp, set the 
orchards in order, to extirpate the numerous snakes, and thereby to 
enable the pious nuns to return to the valley of Port Royal. 

For the rest, they led a romantically severe life of penance : even dur- 
ing the coldest winter they scorned to warm their rooms : in front of 
every door there lay a heavy block of wood, and, when one of the inmates 
found the cold too severe, he took his block on his back and ran to the 
top of the nearest hill and returned comfortably warmed. They wore 
the coarse dress of peasants, and from early morning till late at night 
they carried about with them spades or scythes. 

They devoted a considerable portion of their leisure to theological 
studies. They read and translated the Scriptures and the early fathers, 
and wrote learned treaties on apologetics. At a later date, these hermits 
founded their famous peHtes ccoles, those educational establishments 
for boys and girls which *vere soon to acquire considerable importance. 
This idyllic "Thebaid three miles from Versailles" was, however, 
to last only until the marshes were drained, and the nuns returned. Not 
till then did the true "Port Royal spirit" manifest itself, for then there 
began that great fight against the Jesuits and their doctrine of free will 
which has become famous in intellectual history as the "Jansenist contro- 
versy." In order to make room for the pious nuns, the "Gentlemen of 
Port Royal" migrated to a neighbouring farmhouse and to some barns 
which had been built there. A lively spiritual intercourse grew up be- 
tween the nuns and the members of the colony, and the fateful discus- 
sions of grace and free will began. 

These "edifying conversations," however, only attained their fullest 
importance through the interest of the ladies belonging to the highest 
social circles in Paris, in whose elegant salons it suddenly became 
fashionable to discuss the Augustinian doctrines and original sin. From 
that time onwards, the Jansenist party numbered amongst its adherents 
the famous clique which included the Duchesse de Longueville, the 
Princesse de Guemenee, Madame de Pontcarre, the Marquise d'Aumont, 
the Marquise de Sable, and the celebrated Madame de Sevigne: the 


Marquise de Sable even had a special room fitted up for her devotional 
exercises at the Convent of Port Royal. 

In the eyes of these ladies, the abbey, which could be reached only by 
coach, over bad roads which were axle-deep in mud, seemed a wilderness 
as terrifying as it was romantic. "It is a dreadful valley," writes Madame 
de Sevigne, "just the place in which to find salvation !" 

The first of these converts to Jansenism was the Duchesse de Longue- 
ville, a sister of the Great Conde. "As notorious owing to the civil wars 
as for her love affairs," says Voltaire maliciously, "having become old 
and lacking occupation, she suddenly turned pious. She hated the court, 
felt an urgent need for intrigue, and therefore became a Jansenist con- 

Her enthusiasm for the inmates of the "Thebaid" by no means pre- 
vented the duchess from continuing to lead the life of a noble lady, 
and when, as Princesse de Neuchatel, she received the Swiss ambassa- 
dors, she entertained them with the greatest pomp. 

The "conversion" of the Duchesse de Llancourt, Madame de Sevigne, 
the Princesse de Conti, the Duchesse de Luynes and the Princesse de 
Guemenee had the result that the Jansenist movement suddenly acquired 
a tremendous social influence. There was thus formed against the 
Jesuits a dangerous faction, consisting of int* : guing society ladies who 
had at their disposal powerful influences at cdurt, in the ministerial of- 
fices and among the higher clergy; with truly feminine cunning and 
obstinacy, they set everything in motion in order to secure the victory 
of the doctrine of grace over that of free will. 

The "Port Royal Colony" frequently took part in these discussions in 
the Parisian salons, for the members often left their solitude for the 
capital, in order to propagate their views there. At such times, heated 
debates took place over the most abstruse theological problems, regard- 
ing Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Ignatius Loyola, amidst a circle 
of white-wigged ladies, elegant courtiers and worldly abbes. 

Regarding the strange entourage of the Duchesse de Longueville, 
Voltaire writes with his subtle irony: "There were assembled the 
Arnaulds, Nicole, Lemaistre, Hamon, Sacy, and many less well-known 
but none the less important people. In place of the fine wit to which the 
duchess had hitherto been accustomed, they displayed a profundity in 
their discussions and an element of impetuous and animated virility, 
such as their writings and their discourses reveal. They contributed 
not a little to the acclimatization in France of good taste and genuine 
eloquence, but, unfortunately, they were more concerned with the dis- 


semination of their own views. They themselves furnished a proof of 
that fatalistic system which gained them so many enemies. It might 
well be said that, owing to their pursuit of a chimera, they were irrevo- 
cably predestined to become the victims of persecution, although they 
enjoyed the highest esteem and might have lived most happily had they 
been able to refrain from indulging in these purposeless controversies." 

"Novelists and Dramatists are Poisonmongers" 

The disputes between the Jansenists and the Jesuits over grace and 
free will had a profound influence on the trend of French thought, and 
therefore on that of the whole of Europe, for in the time of Louis XIV 
French culture and European culture were synonymous terms. As a 
purely theological discussion, the controversy would nowadays hardly 
attract more than a specialized and historic interest, but with the history 
of this debate on the teaching of Augustine regarding original sin, the 
whole life, thoughts and actions of the greatest men of that age were 
closely bound up, and both Pascal's Thoughts and the classical plays of 
Corneille and Racine were conceived in the spiritual atmosphere of the 
Jansenist controversy. 

The extraordinary theological debates between pious nuns, fanatical 
hermits, elegant abbes and garrulous society ladies have been immor- 
talized in the pages of these three great writers, while it may also be 
mentioned that Goethe for a time entertained the idea of dealing ex- 
haustively with the Jansenist controversy in the eleventh book of Part 
III of Dichtung und Wahrheit. 

Corneille was educated at the Jesuit school at Clermont, and his dra- 
mas were, at a later date, destined to introduce to the stage the Jesuitic 
spirit of Molinism : his dramatis personae work out their own destinies ; 
they know nothing of the doctrine of original sin ; they believe in the 
freedom of their own decisions, and are able to overcome their strong- 
est passions by the power of their own will. On the other hand, the trage- 
dies of Racine, who was brought up under the influence of Port Royal, 
embody in dramatic form the Jansenist doctrine that men are the help- 
less victims of their passions unless they are enlightened and delivered 
by divine grace. While this is true even of Racine's earlier dramas, the 
connexion with Jansenism is particularly marked in his Phddre. The 
tragic end of Racine's characters is intended to impress upon the specta- 
tor the idea of the inevitability of the destiny which God has decreed. 
Since the subtlety of Racine's French is also attributable to the teaching 






t I 






J ^ 
< ^ 

>H ^ 








which he received as a pupil at Port Royal, the whole of this writer's 
dramatic work is very closely associated with the Jansenist influence. 

For a period of fifteen years, during which time he produced his best 
work, Racine was, indeed, on very bad terms with his former teachers ; 
curiously enough, the quarrel was due to his dramatic talent. Even at 
the outset of his career, when he had written his first short sonnet, his 
grandmother and his aunt, both nuns at Port Royal, were greatly per- 
turbed by so secular and impious a beginning. 

When, however, his La Thebdide was produced, it roused a storm of 
indignation at Port Royal : his grandmother and aunt refused to have 
anything more to do with him and sent him what were to all intents and 
purposes letters of excommunication in which they implored the youth- 
ful reprobate to "have mercy on his own soul, and think of the abyss for 
which he was heading." 

This instance, as so many others, shows that it is hard for pious souls 
to understand genius, and that religious fanatics not infrequently at- 
tempt, with reproving looks and "holy hate," to discourage the develop- 
ment of a truly artistic spirit. So it was that the subtle gentlemen of Port 
Royal were not long in seconding the good nuns' disapproval. Genuinely 
perturbed, Nicole, Racine's former tutor, wrote regarding his pupil who 
had thus fallen a victim to the "poison of authorship": "Everyone 
knows that this gentleman has written novels and stage plays. ... In 
the eyes of right-minded people, such an occupation is in itself not a 
very honourable one ; but, viewed in the light of the Christian religion 
and of the Gospel teaching, it becomes really a dreadful one. Novelists 
and dramatists are poisonmongers who destroy, not men's bodies, but 
their souls." 

Nicole's attack created a tremendous sensation among the Parisian 
intellectuals. Corneille and Moliere at once came to the defence of their 
youthful colleague, and indited spirited rejoinders to the views expressed 
by the pious M. Nicole. Racine himself was in such a towering rage that 
he attacked in the coarsest of terms the colonists and nuns of Port Royal 
in a manifesto in which he spared neither the living nor the dead. This 
was the origin of the breach between the great poet and his former teach- 
ers, which was to last for fully fifteen years. 

Between 1673 and 1677, Racine underwent a complete conversion, 
and he sought to bring about a reconciliation with his friends of former 
days. In the meantime, moreover, the Jansenists had come to take a less 
rigid view of the dramatic art, and thus Port Royal welcomed its former 
pupil back to the fold. It is obvious that the two plays, Esther and Atha- 


lie, which Racine wrote after his reconciliation with the "colonists" are 
dramatized defences of the men of Port Royal and of their ideas. Dur- 
ing the last years of his life, Racine tried to assist his regained friends 
by making use of his social influence and by writing a History of Port 

Although, however, it was necessary for the full development of his 
talents that this writer should become temporarily estranged from the 
Jansenists, Pascal, on the other hand, owed the awakening of his mental 
powers to the teaching of Port Royal, where, from the first, his genius 
was thankfully appreciated. His mordant wit exposed the Jesuits, the 
opponents of the Jansenist doctrine of grace, to open ridicule, and thus 
destroyed their influence over the public. "All manner of means were 
tried," writes Voltaire, "to make the Jesuits hated, but Pascal did more 
because he made them ridiculous." 

Even as a boy of twelve, Pascal had, in childish play, tried to prove, 
in chalk, on the floor of his room, one of the propositions of Euclid. His 
mathematical talents had at that early age aroused so much interest that 
he was admitted to the meetings of the French Academy. At the age of 
sixteen, he propounded a new theory of sound, and at about the same 
period he finished his fundamental work on conic sections. 

Just at the time when he was engaged on the invention of a calculating 
machine to render easier the work of his father, then the intendant of 
Rouen, the latter became seriously ill. The doctors who attended him 
were Jansenists, as was the younger Pascal's brother-in-law, Perier. In 
this way, the whole family came beneath the spell of Jansenist ideas. 
Blaise himself, who up to then had lived the life of an honoured young 
man of learning, was suddenly "touched by God," as had happened 
shortly before to his sister Jacqueline, and he immersed himself in the 
writings of the Abbot of Saint-Cyran and in Jansen's Augustinus. 

Racine, in his History of Port Royal, writes on this conversion of the 
great mathematician : "Pascal already had very strong leanings towards 
piety, and, two or three years before, despite his predilections and his 
undoubted genius for mathematics, had abandoned these speculations in 
order to devote more of his time to the study of the Scriptures and the 
great truths of religion. His acquaintance with Port Royal, and the note- 
worthy examples of piety which he found there, made a deep impression 
upon him. He resolved to think in future only of his spiritual welfare, 
severed all his social connexions, relinquished the idea of a very lucrative 
marriage which he had been contemplating, and from then onwards led a 
life of strict renunciation which he continued until the day of his death." 


While living with the Port Royal community he wrote his first Pro- 
vincial Letters, dealing with the gift of grace and the freedom of the 
human will. In the form of dialogues with an imaginary Jesuit, he ridi- 
culed Molinism, and therefore the entire Jesuit doctrine of free will, 
which he identified with Pelagianism. 

In 1656 and 1657, there appeared anonymously eighteen of these Pro- 
vincial Letters, the authorship of which the public was at first unable to 
discover. 'Their success was astonishing," writes Hemon. "This was 
perhaps due as much to the mystery surrounding the appearance of these 
letters as to the general interest taken in the problem and the novelty of 
the ideas which they contained. Sought for everywhere by the officials 
of the chancellor, Seguier, these Provincial Letters seemed to defy all 
efforts to discover their origin. He who desired to read them found them 
everywhere ; but he who sought to confiscate them found them nowhere." 

The wit of these controversial writings was a novelty in those times, 
and accordingly the Provincial Letters were read at court, as well as in 
the literary salons, by the clergy and by learned professors. Enormous 
damage was thus done at that critical time to the Jesuits' reputation. 

A contemporary report contains a graphic account of the tremendous 
impression created by Pascal's letters: "The chorus of praise which 
arose from those who first read them excited universal curiosity, and 
each succeeding letter was more eagerly looked forward to than its pred- 
ecessor. In a short time, this interest was as keen in the provinces as in 
Paris. Everyone seemed to have read the letters, which, when they 
reached the provinces, created such a stir that the Jesuits themselves were, 
for the first time, greatly perturbed. Never had the post had such a profit- 
able year ; even the smallest towns in the kingdom received consignments 
of the pamphlets, which were forwarded to all parts of France in large 
parcels. ..." 

The Fateful Five Propositions 

It is a significant fact that this great dispute over a difficult theological 
problem had its origin in a piquant but trivial society scandal. The Prin- 
cesse de Guemenee had formerly lived a life devoted wholly to pleasure, 
but she had come under the influence of the Abbot of Saint-Cyran, who 
had imposed on her a strict spiritual discipline. One day, just as she had 
made her communion, a friend called on her, and invited her to a ball 
which was to take place that very evening. 

The princess would gladly have attended this festivity, but Saint- 


Cyran forbade her on the grounds that she had just taken communion, 
and she reluctantly declined the invitation. Her friend, however, refused 
to be beaten, hastened home, and returned immediately with a manuscript 
of the Jesuit, Sesmaisons, in which it was written that the claims of 
God and of the world were not necessarily opposed, and that pious be- 
haviour and innocent pleasure were by no means incompatible. 

By this time, the princess really did not know whether she should or 
should not attend the ball, and in this pious lady's doubts originated all 
the subsequent virulent disputes between the Jansenists and the Jesuits. 

The Abbot of Saint-Cyran at once steeped himself, full of mistrust, 
in the study of the writings of the Jesuit, Sesmaisons, and made the dis- 
tressing discovery that they upheld the view that the more man sinned, 
the oftener should he obtain absolution by receiving the sacrament of 
the Eucharist. The young Jansenist, Antoine Arnauld, also soon heard 
of this Jesuit tract, and, deeply aroused, published a refutation entitled 
On Frequent Communion, in which he warned the faithful against those 
false counsellors, the Jesuits, who treated vice as of little account, too 
easily granted absolution, and profaned the sacrament of the communion 
by administering it to unworthy recipients. 

The event aroused interest in the Parisian salons, and the question 
whether or not communion should be frequent immediately became the 
subject of animated discussion. The Jesuits were not slow in taking up 
Arnauld's challenge ; they thundered from the pulpit against their pre- 
sumptuous critic, whom they styled a "scorpion," and whom they placed 
in the same category as those heretics, Luther and Calvin. 

Hardly had this society scandal begun when it grew to even greater 
dimensions. Before long, the Jesuits made determined efforts to stir up 
both the queen of France and the pope against Arnauld's book, but to 
no avail, and for the time being they had to content themselves with a 
campaign of insult and calumny. 

The gentlemen of Port Royal jealously followed every step the Jesuit 
fathers took, and the latter, in turn, were overcome by jealousy whenever 
the literary products of the colonists eclipsed those of their own writers. 
The educational activities of both parties were a special cause of rivalry. 
Up to then, the Jesuits had had a virtual monopoly of the education of 
the children of the French aristocracy, but they now encountered dan- 
gerous competitors in the petites ecoles of Port Royal. There, in contrast 
to the practice in the Jesuit schools, elementary instruction was given in 
the French, and not in the Latin, language : the latter was not taught 
until the pupils had received a thorough grounding in French. At Port 


Royal, moreover, Greek was also taught by a new method, which dis- 
pensed with the use of Latin translations, while the Jansenist schools 
were also famous for their success in the teaching of mathematics and 
history. A large number of children of distinguished families now at- 
tended the Port Royal schools instead of the Jesuit college at Clermont, 
and the Jesuits were greatly angered by this unwelcome competition. 

But this educational rivalry too was let loose by a minor social scandal. 
A Jesuit confessor had refused the last sacraments to the Due de Lian- 
court, because the latter's granddaughter was a pupil at Port Royal. Ar- 
nauld immediately took up the case, and wrote two heated attacks on the 
obnoxious order, thereby bringing upon himself the penalty of expulsion 
from the University of Paris. 

Every form of intrigue and calumniation at the command of both 
parties was eventually resorted to in the prosecution of the dispute. The 
Jansenists accused their opponents of holding the heretical Pelagian doc- 
trines, while the Jesuits declared the Port Royal confraternity to be Cal- 
vinists. Before long, each party began to accuse the other of immorality, 
the Jesuits publishing slanderous reports in which aspersions were cast 
upon the conduct of the nuns at Port Royal, while in retaliation the Jan- 
senists accused the pious fathers of the gravest immoralities. Then both 
sides began to assert that their opponents were guilty of treason. The 
Jansenists revived all the old stories concerning the regicidal tendencies 
of the Jesuits, while the latter retorted by asserting that the Port Royal 
people were spending their money on conspiracies endangering the se- 
curity of the French state. 

Strenuous efforts were made to secure the support of the court and 
of the authorities. On the Jansenist side, the Duchesse de Longueville 
brought pressure to bear on a number of influential statesmen, while 
on the other side the Jesuit confessor at the royal court insinuated ac- 
cusations against the Jansenists into the ears of the queen and of the king. 

The leading spirit of the Port Royal party was the youthful but 
learned Doctor Antoine Arnauld, who had made it his lifelong task to 
defend Jansenism with passionate eloquence. "Arnauld hated the Jesuits 
even more than he loved effective grace," writes Voltaire, "and they 
hated him just as much. . . . His own gifts, and the times in which 
he lived, turned him into a controversialist and party leader ; but this 
is a form of ambition which kills all others. He fought the Jesuits until 
he had reached the age of eighty. ... A mind destined to enlighten 
humanity was wasted on the dissensions created by his determined ob- 


Hardly had Arnauld published his treatise On Frequent Communion 
when that mad controversy reached its climax. The Abbot of Saint- 
Cyran had meanwhile, by the use of his social influence, been able to 
some extent to rescue from oblivion the book of his former teacher, 
Cornelius Jansen. This infuriated the Jesuits, who requested the authori- 
ties in Rome to anathematize this book, as being nothing less than a 
revival of the old heretical teachings of Baius. They were, in fact, shortly 
afterwards successful in securing from the Inquisition the condemnation 
of Jansen's Augustinus. 

In spite of this verdict, no one could bring himself to read this exhaus- 
tive, as well as tedious, book of Jansen's, and this continued to be the 
case right up to the period of the most violent debate over this same Au- 
gustinus. It is true that heated controversies arose over the question 
whether Jansen's doctrines were really Christian or whether, rather, they 
were not heretical, but the number of those who had even glanced at this 
famous work continued to be exceedingly small. 

At an early stage, a Jesuit had realized how few people there were 
who were disposed to read Jansen's own writings, and he therefore com- 
piled for popular use a summary in the form of five "propositions." 
These were intended to make plain the heretical objectionableness of the 
Jansenist teachings, and the condensation of the three ponderous vol- 
umes into five short propositions did, in fact, bring to the notice of the 
world at large the theories of the long-defunct Bishop of Ypres. 

After the Jesuits had for years repeatedly quoted these five proposi- 
tions, the doctors at the University of Paris and the French bishops 
became feverishly excited by them : eighty doctors demanded that the 
faculty should condemn Jansen's book as heretical, while sixty others pro- 
Jiested against this ; eighty-eight bishops requested the pope to intervene, 
while eleven bishops who held the opposite view urged the Holy Father 
to do nothing of the kind. The pope, finally, at the urgent instance of the 
eighty-eight bishops, found himself forced to brand the famous "five 
propositions" as heretical in his bull Cum occasione. 

Stripped of their theological verbiage, these five propositions run 
somewhat as follows : ( I ) grace is not given to all, and those who do not 
possess it are totally incapable of doing good ; (2) those to whom grace 
is given cannot escape its effect, and their actions must necessarily be 
guided by this gift of grace 5(3) men are not free to do good or evil ; (4) 
it is heretical to state that men are able of their own will to resist grace 
or to yield to it ; (5) it is heretical to state that Christ died for all men. 

Pope Innocent X thought fit to anathematize each individual proposi- 





tion separately, but, as neither he nor his cardinals had ever read Jan- 
sen's book, the Holy Father refrained from quoting in his bull the pages 
in the Augustinus in which these heretical views were expounded. 

The Jansenists immediately made capital out of this fact. When the 
bull Cum occasione was published, they declared that, as good Catholics, 
they deferred to the verdict of the pope that the five propositions were 
heretical, but, at the same time, they claimed that these propositions were 
not to be found in Jansen's book. Doctor Arnauld, who never missed a 
chance of engaging in controversy, at once wrote "a fictitious letter to an 
imaginary duke," as was customary among literary men of the period, 
in which he sarcastically pointed out that, while the propositions con- 
demned by the pope were certainly not contained in Jansen's book, they 
were to be found in the writings of Augustine and other fathers of the 

The French clergy, and before all the Jesuits, were infuriated by Ar- 
nauld's statement; as none of these ecclesiastical dignitaries had read 
Jansen's book, each one, relying on the papal infallibility, could con- 
fidently assert that the heretical propositions were actually to be found 
in the book of the Bishop of Ypres. 

The obvious solution was to read Jansen's book, and ascertain whether 
or not it contained the "five propositions," but everyone concerned 
shirked this task, and preferred more complicated methods. First of all, 
a debate arose over the question whether the pope was infallible in all 
circumstances. The Jansenists claimed that this infallibility applied only 
to matters of the faith, and not to the verification of actual facts. Hence 
it was within the pope's powers to determine whether or not the "five 
propositions" were heretical, but, on the other hand, it was not for him 
to decide whether these propositions had actually been written by Jan- 
sen. Peter's successor, they urged, could never by his authority convert 
false statements on matters of fact into truths. 

Although or perhaps even because this Jansenist opinion was 
based on common sense, the French clergy who were under Jesuit in- 
fluence were stirred to indignation. In the Jesuit college at Clermont, 
long public discussions were held upholding the theory that the pope 
could give an infallible decision on matters of fact. Incredible as it may 
now seem to us, this question at once gave rise to a violent quarrel in 
which the whole of France, from the poorest mendicant friar up to the 
roi Soldi himself, took part. This was the famous controversy over the 
distinction between infallibility de droit and de fait. 

The Jesuits were finally able to persuade the majority of the French 


eventually found no difficulty in persuading 'Louis XIV that Quesnel's 
activities were politically dangerous. "The king," Voltaire remarks 
scornfully, "was not sufficiently well educated to appreciate the fact that 
a purely speculative theory ceases to be of importance if it is left to its 
own unfruitfulness. To make a state matter of it is attributing far too 
much weight to it." 

Signs and Wonders 

In 1708, there appeared a papal bull in which the cloister of Port Royal 
was referred to as a "nest of heretics." Archbishop de Noailles, who was 
personally well-disposed towards the Jansenists, delegated to the Jesuit 
court confessor, Le Tellier, as papal commissioner, the duty of enforc- 
ing the warrant against the Port Royal confraternity. 

The police cleared the convent, the nuns were transferred to other 
communities, and the buildings were entirely demolished. Even the bod- 
ies of the dead Jansenists in the Port Royal cemetery were disinterred 
and reburied in a common grave. 

The spirit of Jansenism, however, survived, and manifested itself in 
the most insane and senseless intrigues and protests. Noailles, now a 
cardinal, was on terms of bitterest enmity with the court confessor, Le 
Tellier, whom he caused to be kept under observation, and whose corre- 
spondence he had opened : he was thus able to intercept one of the Jesuit's 
letters, which revealed the existence of an extensive political plot against 
himself. He avenged himself by making use of his archiepiscopal powers 
to deprive the Jesuits of the right of hearing confessions. 

Le Tellier was not slow in retaliating. He was aware that at an earlier 
date Noailles had openly expressed his approval of the Jansenist Ques- 
nel's book, and he now set to work to procure the papal anathema of this 
work, and thus indirectly to compromise the archbishop. 

Clement XI hesitated for a long time and studied the question with 
as much zeal as had Clement VIII in regard to the Molinist problem : it 
was not until 1713 that he decided to issue the famous bull Unigenitus, 
which condemned as heretical one hundred and three of Quesnel's prop- 

The aged roi Soleil had done all in his power to expedite the publica- 
tion of this bull, in order to prevent a split in the church and to allay the 
prevailing state of unrest, but the papal decree had precisely the opposite 
effect. The French clergy immediately protested most forcibly against 
the acceptance of the bull ; many of the highest ecclesiastics pointed out 


that a number of Quesnel's propositions which had been anathematized 
by the pope were taken literally from the pages of Holy Scripture and 
from the works of Augustine. 

This seemingly interminable dispute had now reached the period of 
the "Appeal," so-called because a number of the most eminent church- 
men, headed by Cardinal Noailles, declared that they would not comply 
with the bull Unigenitus, but that, under an ancient privilege, they would 
lodge an appeal against the papal authority at the next general conclave. 

A great meeting in Paris of all the French bishops was called : after 
protracted discussions, a number of them decided to submit, but a mi- 
nority refused to do so. The latter party wrote to the pope direct, asking 
for further explanations : in the eyes of the Roman Curia so unprece- 
dented an action was nothing less than an insult to the Holy Father. 
Popes Clement XI and Innocent XIII for their part condemned the "Ap- 
peal" and a National Council hastily convened at Embrun hurled its 
anathema against the rebellious clerics. 

At this period, the Ministry of the Interior found it difficult to cope 
with the demand for lettres de cachet, for the aged king had become so 
feeble that the Jesuits were easily able to secure the imprisonment of such 
of their enemies as they might desire to have incarcerated. More than 
twenty thousand of these lettres de cachet were at about that time issued 
against persons who held the Jansenist views. 

At this stage, the Jesuits, with the pope and the king on their side, ap- 
peared to have the upper hand over the Jansenists. Nevertheless, the 
Jansenist duchesses and princesses continued to carry on a clever intrigue 
at court in favour of the gift of grace to the elect, but they could not get 
the better of Le Tellier who was the keeper of the king's conscience. 
This dispute over a difficult theological problem was, therefore, fought 
with very unequal weapons. The effective influence of the Jesuits was 
opposed only by the pens of the "gentlemen," and the malicious tongues 
of the "ladies of Port Royal." 

In one respect only was the Jansenist spirit superior to that of Molina : 
it was able to work miracles ! More than once during the dispute did such 
"miracles" occur, and, so it seemed, always at times when matters were 
going badly for the Jansenist cause. Not only the Jesuits, but their pa- 
trons, kings and ministers, were powerless against so embarrassing an 
intervention of supernatural forces. 

As early as 1656, when the queen, acting under the influence of the 
Jesuits, was on the point of ordering the Port Royal community to be 
dissolved, there occurred the celebrated cure of Pascal's ten-year-old 


niece. The child had suffered from a chronic lachrymal fistula, which, 
however, immediately disappeared when it was brought into contact with 
the "thorn from Christ's crown" which was kept at Port Royal. 

This had already made the Jesuits very uneasy. Could it be that God 
had suspended the laws of nature merely "to justify a dozen nuns" who 
asserted that Cornelius Jansen had not written this or that statement? 

Father Annat, who was the court confessor at this time, immediately 
wrote a tract: "Shortlived Joy of the Jansenists in the Matter of a 
Miracle which is said to have taken place at Port Royal." But Annat's 
refutation was of little avail. Voltaire describes how the Jesuits then 
bestirred themselves "to work miracles of their own, but they were 
unsuccessful, since at that time the Jansenist miracles only were in 

The cure of little Marguerite had its effects. The event was taken as 
a judgment of God, and it made so deep an impression on the pious queen 
that she refrained for the present from all further persecutions of the 
Jansenists. The most important effect of the miracle, however, was that 
it won Pascal over completely to Jansen's teaching. 

A similar case occurred a few years later. The daughter of the well- 
known painter, Philippe de Champaigne, who was completely crippled, 
was suddenly cured while at Port Royal. This was once more regarded 
as divine approval of the Jansenists, and the young girl's grateful father, 
as a thank-offering, painted the fine picture of the nuns of Port Royal. 

These miracles, however, reached their climax only at the time of the 
controversy over the bull Unigenitus, when the Jansenist cause appeared 
to be in danger of being finally lost. It seemed as if supernatural forces 
were at work to prove at all costs that the belief in free will was false and 
the doctrine of election by grace was true. 

The first of these miracles occurred when a lady who was dangerously 
ill suddenly recovered at the sight of a monstrance borne by a Jansenist : 
similar cures followed, until finally the rapidly increasing belief of Pari- 
sian society in miracles became concentrated on the recently deceased 
Jansenist ascetic, Francois de Paris. 

The latter was the son of wealthy parents ; one day, however, he decided 
to renounce his riches, and even sold the silver table-ware he had in- 
herited in order to share the proceeds among those who had been reduced 
to poverty by their opposition to the bull Unigenitus. Francois de Paris 
then took deacon's orders, and* finally, in abject poverty, went to live 
in the attic of a house on the outskirts of the city. In order to earn a liv- 
ing, he took lessons in stocking-knitting, and, as all day long he busily 


knitted hose, he mused over the project of resuscitating the convent of 
Port Royal. 

He went about attired as a mendicant, in order to beg on behalf of 
others. He lived on roots and unsalted bread, and he would only take 
food which was nauseous to him. Finally, he went to share a small room 
with a madman whom he had taken under his charge, in order that the 
latter might trouble and torment him : he then died of hunger and weak- 

Immediately upon his death, people began to venerate him as a saint. 
His clothes were torn into small pieces to be preserved as holy relics. His 
body was buried in the paupers' cemetery of St.-Medard, which was 
quickly filled by sick people of all classes of society, who fell into convul- 
sions and proclaimed themselves cured by contact with the grave. 
Twenty-four priests testified to the archbishop that they themselves had 
been eye-witnesses of these miraculous cures, and the general enthusi- 
asm reached such a point that even the police officials distributed at the 
cemetery the Jansenist broadsheets which they had received orders to 
confiscate. The cemetery was eventually closed by royal decree, and there- 
upon an anonymous notice was affixed on the gate : 

"De par le roi, defense a Dieu, 
De f aire miracle en ce lieu !" 

("By order of the king, God is forbidden to work miracles here!") 

This persecution by those in authority raised the popular enthusiasm 
for the miracle-worker to a pitch bordering upon madness. All over 
Paris, people were overcome by religious mania; they rolled about in 
convulsions ^of their own free will they lay on glowing coals; they al- 
lowed heavy weights to be dropped on their bodies ; they had themselves 
nailed to crosses and had swords plunged into them, the while they 
poured forth the Jansenist doctrines and prophesied the downfall of 
those who supported the bull Unigenitus. 

In the meantime, things had begun to augur badly for the Jesuits. 
Louis XIV had died, the last years of his life having been embittered 
by the interminable religious dissensions. The Duke of Orleans, who 
had become regent during the minority of Louis XV, was a friend of 
Cardinal Noailles, and his first step on assuming office was to expel from 
the court the father-confessor Le Tellier.,, 

From time out of mind the question whether the human will is free 
or otherwise had been debated, the only method of argument adopted by 


both sides being the quotation and interpretation of passages from the 
Bible, Aristotle, or the early fathers. Pelagianists and Augustinians, 
Jesuits and Jansenists, popes, cardinals, professors, nuns, courtiers and 
society ladies had endeavoured to establish the correctness of their philo- 
sophical and theological views solely on quotations from recognized 
teachers of former days. Not a single one of this host of disputants had 
ever made an attempt to think out independently and on original grounds 
the problem which had been so zealously debated, or to examine it logi- 
cally in the light of unprejudiced reasoning. 

The same extraordinary phenomenon is to be met with in the con- 
temporary investigations into the natural sciences. Scholastic physics 
was entirely based on the interpretation of Aristotle, and many cen- 
turies were to elapse before it occurred to anyone to carry out even the 
simplest of physical experiments. 

Moreover, it should not be overlooked that the methods of the scholars 
had, during the course of centuries, added more and more to the number 
of recognized "authorities." It was no longer considered sufficient to 
rely solely upon the works of the classical thinkers and the church fathers 
and on the words of the Bible; it became necessary to quote from the 
writings of innumerable commentators, and, indeed, as time went on, 
to trust more and more to what the interpreters had said and hardly at 
all to refer to the original sources. Thus the dispute over the question of 
free will finally became a battle over the interpretation of interpreters, the 
commentation of the commentators. 

After a struggle which resulted in the defeat of both the Jansenists 
and their Jesuit adversaries, the great fight between grace and free will 
came to a natural end : not, however, that it was in any way settled. The 
antagonists on both sides were the victims of a pitiless destiny, and per- 
ished in a conflict which they had themselves provoked. The time had 
passed when the whole world followed with bated breath, and took part 
in, theological controversies ; henceforth the problem of the freedom of 
human will was destined to set at loggerheads only those philosophers 
who, in the era which was dawning, were to take over the leadership of 
European thought. 

Doubt, the Source of Knowledge 

Amid the opening stages of flie Jansenist controversy, there was 
growing to maturity the man who was destined to be one of the first to 















make a determined effort to rescue the world from an obsolete method of 
thinking. During the years of endless arguments over Molina's Con- 
cordia, the youthful Rene Descartes studied at the Jesuit college of La 
Fleche. Father Charlet, the rector of the college, was a relative of the 
Descartes family, and devoted special care to the young man : he en- 
trusted him to the supervision of Father Dinet, who subsequently became 
a provincial of the order, and both men were greatly pleased by the 
eagerness to learn and the devotion to duty of the youth. 

During the eight years which he spent at La Fleche, Descartes ac- 
quired a thorough knowledge of the whole of the philosophical theories 
of his time. "Since philosophy is the key to the other sciences/' he him- 
self writes in his Memoirs, "I regard it as most helpful to have made 
so thorough a study of the subject as it was taught in the Jesuit schools." 

Notwithstanding his scholastic education, however, Descartes dared 
to discard the whole philosophical inheritance, and to think things out 
again from the beginning. Men like Nicholas of Cusa and Francis 
Bacon had, indeed, attempted something similar, but Descartes was 
the first to draw the logical conclusions from the failures of speculation 
thitherto ; while philosophic thinking up till then had been founded on the 
judgments reached by recognized teachers, Descartes called for the "abo- 
lition of all prejudices." 

Everything, he declared, can and must be doubted, even doubt itself; 
the capacity of men to doubt seemed to him to be the beginning of all 
philosophy. Recognizing that doubt, as an act of thought, postulates the 
existence of a thinking being, he arrived at his famous axiom, cogito 
ergo sum. "I will thus assume," he once wrote, "that the source of truth 
is not an all-benevolent Deity, but some kind of malicious and yet very 
powerful demon, who uses all his art to lead me astray. I mean that every- 
thing I perceive outside myself heaven, air, earth, colours, forms, 
sounds are but visions seen in dreams, created by that evil spirit to 
ensnare my credulity." 

From that time onward up to our own age, doubt as the fundamental 
attitude of the investigator into all phenomena and hypotheses was des- 
tined to dominate the whole development of European thought. The 
scientific, philosophic and technological achievements of the last century 
have all sprung from the spirit of doubt, from the principle that experi- 
ence and experiment are the starting-point of all speculation. 

But as regards the question of the freedom of the will, Descartes, like 
his predecessors, was unable to solve the contradictions in this problem, 


but rather substituted newer complications for the old. It at once be- 
came evident that the truth was not necessarily revealed to a mode of 
thought which had freed itself from the fetters of a belief in tradition, 
but that it remained just as obscure as it was under the hair-splitting 
methods of the scholastics. Even Cartesian philosophy was unable to 
explain the simultaneous existence of freedom and lack of freedom, or 
the contradiction between the principle of causality and that of human 

In accordance with his new outlook, Descartes distinguished between 
one world subject to mechanical laws and another of spiritual freedom, 
by assuming the existence of two substances corresponding exactly the 
one to the other : against the physical world, which he regarded as a pure 
mechanism, he set the spiritual as essentially different. 

In conformity with the principles of modern scientific thought, he 
tried to extend the region of mechanical action as far as possible. He 
regarded animals as mere automata, devoid alike of the power of reason 
and of volition, and this, he considered, was also true of the human 
body; on the other hand, he regarded the will alone as something not 
reducible to mechanism : the innate tendency of the body towards a state 
of mechanical inertia is influenced by the will. 

It will thus be seen that this former Jesuit pupil gave free will a promi- 
nent place in his system. The will, he claimed, is in its nature infinite 
and free : it therefore constitutes that human faculty which approaches 
most nearly to absolute perfection. Only the fact that we possess free 
will justifies us in speaking of an analogy between man and God; there 
is, indeed, very little difference between our will and that of the Ruler 
of the Universe. 

Man "wills," not because he is subject to an unescapable attraction or 
in conformity with a law of nature, but rather by reason of his freedom ; 
but, since the will necessarily strives after what is good and true, it en- 
deavours in its decisions to adapt itself to the divine will, and it thus be- 
comes all the more free the more it is in harmony with the infinite and 
infinitely perfect will of God. 

Nevertheless, this theory was no real solution of the problem. For 
if, following the Cartesian hypothesis, the existence of a dual system of 
mechanical and spiritual substances is assumed, two alternatives at once 
present themselves : either theypower of bringing about a causeless event 
must be ascribed to the will, or it must be assumed that the mechanically 
conditioned impulses bring about an unfree event; furthermore, these 
two assumptions stand in insoluble contradiction one to the other. ^ 


Descartes and the Jesuits 

Almost as soon as he became known, Descartes had to face bitter op- 
position, and it has often been stated that the persecution of his doctrines 
by the Catholic Church was attributable to the Jesuits. In reality, it was 
chiefly the theological faculties at the great universities who, out of their 
own learned darkness, attacked most violently the innovations of Des- 
cartes, while the Jesuits in many instances came to the support of their 
former pupil. 

There were from the outset members of the Society of Jesus, such 
as the Provincial Dinet, and Fathers Meland, de Vatier, Derkennis and 
Tacquet, who were stanch admirers of Descartes ; other Jesuits were at 
any rate friendly towards him, being drawn to him by his mathematical 
and physical theories. 

On the appearance in 1641 of Descartes' first monumental work, en- 
titled Meditationes de prima philosophic,, ubi de Dei existentia ct animae 
immortditate, the Jesuit Provincial Dinet, the former tutor of the philos- 
opher, immediately gave him his wholehearted support .The leading 
members of the order had, with keen perspicacity, immediately realized 
that Descartes, so zealous a champion as he was of the doctrine of free 
will, was to be regarded rather as an ally than as an enemy. 

The correctness of this view was speedily confirmed by the fact that 
Antoine Arnauld, the leader of the Jansenist party, raised pronounced 
objections of a theological nature to the Cartesian system. This new 
philosophy, which so greatly differed from the teachings of Augustine, 
could not but meet with hostility in Jansenist circles, and so it was that, 
while the men of Port Royal were deeply interested by Descartes' dis- 
coveries in the natural sciences and mathematics, they objected to his 
philosophy on the ground that it ought to concern itself solely with sci- 
entific matters, and should leave untouched matters of faith, human ac- 
tion, religion and morals. 

Even though this difference of opinion between Descartes and the 
Jansenists met with some sympathy in the Society of Jesus, the mem- 
bers were under no misapprehensions over what Descartes had done in 
regard to breaking loose from the scholastic belief in authorities. It was 
not so very long, indeed, since the Jesuits themselves had been most vio- 
lently attacked by the Dominicans for haf ing departed from many of 
the doctrines of that teacher of the Church, Thomas. At that period, 
during the Molinist controversy, the Jesuits had been in a similar posi- 
tion to that in which they now recognized Descartes to be, and they too 


had had to fight against the enmity of all the rigid school dogmatists. 

It is true that when Descartes became known, there were also Jesuits 
who opposed the new system. Thus, soon after the publication of the 
Meditationes, the Belgian Jesuit Jean Ciermans sent a number of objec- 
tions to Descartes ; these, however, dealt solely with problems of physics, 
and were couched in such flattering terms that Descartes received them 
in a very friendly spirit. 

More dangerous seemed the attack of the Jesuit university professor 
Bourdin, who launched his attack on Descartes with all the weapons of 
scholastic polemics. Descartes was at first greatly alarmed by this at- 
tack of Bourdin's, for he feared that it was preliminary to a general 
attack on his system by the Jesuit order, and, so soon after the condemna- 
tion of Galileo, such a turn of affairs might indeed have caused him grave 
concern. It was speedily obvious, however, that Bourdin had not acted 
under instructions from the Society, but on his own initiative, for the 
Provincial Dinet quickly intervened, forbade Bourdin to make any fur- 
ther attacks, and arranged a personal meeting between the two men 
which ended in a complete reconciliation. 

Only after Descartes's death did there manifest itself within the order 
a certain anti-Cartesian trend of opinion, which, indeed, was attributable 
to motives of ecclesiastical policy on the part of the leaders of the order 
as much as to anything. From this time onward, many Jesuit writers 
sought vigorously to refute the doctrines of Descartes by demonstrat- 
ing that they were not in harmony with the Aristotelean system. 

It is, however, a somewhat significant fact that, notwithstanding all 
the orders emanating from Rome, the Cartesian philosophy has always 
found a number of open supporters among the Jesuits, and that, indeed, 
in later years, quite patent sympathies for these views again become evi- 
dent. Learned Jesuits such as Honore Fabri tried to prove that Descartes 
was in agreement with Aristotle, and that the physics of the Stagirite 
had till then been misunderstood. 

This movement became so strong that it created consternation among 
the leaders of the order : it was deemed desirable, at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, to declare that thirty propositions were not to be dis- 
cussed, and these chiefly included the Cartesian doctrines. In 1732, a 
further ten theses were banned, which were likewise held to be in the 
spirit of Descartes, and which contradicted the scholastic views regarding 
form and matter. 

It is not without interest to observe how understandingly Bernhard 
Jansen, a Jesuit philosopher of our days, judges the Cartesian protest 


against the rigid scholastic methods. Jansen, in his Wegen der Welt- 
weisheit, says that Descartes, in contrast to the scholastics, who were 
objective and metaphysical, starts "from the subject, from the ego," and 
finds "by critically elaborating the facts of consciousness the way to the 
exterior world." This is, however, "typically non-mediaeval, entirely 

In matters of method, Jansen explains, "the severance from scientific 
and ecclesiastical authority in principle and in practice" was accom- 
plished by Descartes. "Science was happily emancipated and secularized. 
Its emancipation was significantly expressed in Descartes' cogito ergo 
sum, and its secularization in Bacon's 'Knowledge is power.' The ori- 
entation of philosophy, which was predominantly metaphysical in the 
Middle Ages, was turned in the direction of critical, methodological 
and exact investigations into the natural sciences, without detriment, 
nevertheless, to the importance of metaphysics, the queen of all the 
sciences. . . ." 

Jansen then states that, at the time of Descartes's appearance, later 
scholasticism had already led to a greatly exaggerated belief in author- 
ity, and that accordingly the efforts which were made to break away from 
its unduly narrow limits were entirely justifiable. In conclusion, his 
judgment is that through this new movement "many individual new 
truths were revealed, many different individual disciplines in philosophy 
were cultivated for the first time or powerfully stimulated," but, above 
all, "through doubt the eye was opened or critically sharpened to a whole 
series of problems hitherto unbroached." 

Leibniz, The Friend of the Jesuits 

The Cartesian doctrine of the interrelation between two substances, 
one mechanical and the other spiritual, was destined later on to be fur- 
ther developed by two great thinkers. Both Spinoza and Leibniz may in 
this respect be regarded as the successors of Descartes. 

It is true that in Spinoza's philosophy, this dualism loses much of its 
special character. Spinoza certainly concedes the existence of an un- 
broken continuity of mechanical events in the physical world, as well 
as a corresponding continuity in the world of thought ; but, in his view, 
the world of ideas shows the same concatenation of causes and effects 
as the world of natural processes, since he regards mind and matter as 
identical. Both consist of the very same substances, which are different 
for the understanding in their phenomenal forms, their attributes. The 


relation between these two chains of events, therefore, consists in an 
exact correspondence. 

A thinker who regarded the spiritual world as subject to the laws of 
causality could not possibly admit the freedom of the human will ; so 
Spinoza considered the belief in the freedom of the human will illusory. 
Men, so ran his doctrine, consider themselves free only because they are 
conscious of their will, but not of the causes which determine the will. 
In the same way, a falling stone, if endowed with consciousness, would 
believe that it was falling of its own volition, because it would be un- 
able to perceive any external causes of its movement. 

This idea of mechanical causation is formulated in an even more de- 
cisive manner in the writings of the English "philosophers of experi- 
ence" of the eighteenth century. They sought to prove that the human 
reason and will were subject solely to mechanical laws, and to show con- 
sciousness merely as a series of physical reactions. Thus David Hume 
tried to prove that mental processes were governed by the same laws as 
were the processes of nature, and he asserted that in the human brain, 
just as in the physical world, the same causes produced identical effects. 

Hume, entirely in the spirit of Francis Bacon, declared the will to be 
merely the desire to remain in a condition which has once been assumed ; 
this was an application to the mind of Galileo's principle of inertia. He 
considered that there is no difference between the will and the inertia of 
inanimate matter ; the actions of human beings appear to be completely 
determined by an infinite chain of causes and effects. 

In contradistinction to this purely mechanical theory of the English 
philosophers, Leibniz postulates a sharp division between mind and mat- 
ter, and, in his hypothesis of the "pre-established harmony," elaborates 
with remarkable beauty the dualistic idea first evolved by Descartes. He 
assumes the existence of two kingdoms, one of effective causes and the 
other of final causes; there is no relationship of dependency between 
them, but, according to a "pre-established harmony," there is a relation- 
ship between them of perfect correspondence. 

"Souls," Leibniz tells us, "are subject to their own laws, which con- 
sist in a definite development of the ideas governing the distinction 
between good and evil ; bodies likewise are subject to their own laws, 
according to which their movements are regulated. Nevertheless, these 
two entirely different kinds of existence meet and correspond the one to 
the other like two adjacent and perfectly regulated clocks of entirely dif- 
ferent construction." 

Leibniz came to the fore just at the time when the disputes between 


Jansenists and Molinists, Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists over the 
problems of grace, original sin and human freedom had resulted in the 
production of an enormous amount of controversial literature. In his 
efforts to find a middle way between different hostile views, Leibniz 
sought for some kind of compromise in these questions also, and he 
treated of grace, original sin and free will on several occasions, both 
in his System of Theology and in his Theodicy and other writings. 

Although he treats of original sin as the human propensity towards 
evil, he immediately adds : "It must be assumed that man's freedom of 
will was not taken from him by his fall, not even in divine things af- 
fecting his salvation ; but that rather all arbitrary actions are voluntary, 
done of choice, and consequently free ; just as no prejudice is done to 
the freedom of our actions in common life because we are incited to per- 
form a certain action by the rays of light which the eyes communicate to 
us. ... Although the impulse and the help come from God, they are 
at all times accompanied by a certain co-operation of man himself ; if not, 
we could not say that we had acted. . . ." 

It goes without saying that the Jesuits have always rejected all purely 
mechanical theories such as, for instance, those of Spinoza or Hume. 
As against any such physiological and mechanical determinism, the mod- 
ern Jesuit philosopher, Victor Cathrein, asserts that the mechanical con- 
ditions necessary to bring about an action belong solely to the physical 
world, while the will is independent of them ; all mental processes, in- 
cluding above all others the act of volition, come about "without the co- 
operation of any kind of physical organ" and are therefore subject to 
"no physiological or mechanical law." 

On the other hand, it is not surprising to find that the Jesuits have 
always regarded with considerable favour the work and the personality 
of Leibniz. The order was, indeed, gratified to discover that the theories 
of the Protestant Leibniz were in complete opposition to the doctrines of 
Luther and Calvin; while his theological convictions approximated 
closely to those of Catholicism, it was his views on the problem of free 
will that must have been most to the liking of the Jesuits. 

The conclusions drawn by Calvin from the doctrine of predestination 
were expressly described as erroneous by Leibniz, when he wrote that 
men had "at nearly every epoch been disturbed by a fallacy which the 
ancients had stigmatized as being based on faulty reasoning, because it 
led to this, that a man should . . . either do nothing or at least trouble 
himself about nothing. For, it is said, if the future is inevitable, what 
is to happen will happen, no matter what I do." 


Leibniz also had considerable sympathy for the system of Catho- 
lic orders ; thus, he once wrote that he confessed that he had always "ap- 
proved of the convents, the pious brotherhoods and associations as well 
as other laudable institutions of the same kind," for these were "a heav- 
enly host upon earth. . . . Whosoever ignores or despises this has but 
a poor and debased conception of virtue, and in stupid simplicity restricts 
man's duty towards God to external practices and mechanical customs 
which are generally performed without zeal or love." 

Leibniz was on close and friendly terms and regularly corresponded 
with a number of Jesuits : the praise bestowed by innumerable Jesuit 
writers upon his works gave genuine pleasure to this great philosopher 
and strengthened him in his efforts "to make clear his observations re- 
garding man's freedom and the justice of God." On several occasions, 
he defended the order against the charges of proselyte-hunting levelled 
at it in Protestant circles, while in a letter he wrote to his Jesuit patron, 
Father Orban, he definitely states that he wishes to be regarded as a 
"warm friend" of the Jesuits. He had a great admiration for the works 
of the Jesuit Sarasa, and he himself admitted that in his Theodicy he 
had borrowed and applied several of Sarasa's propositions. 

Leibniz followed with considerable interest the missionary work of 
the Society of Jesus, the scientific importance of which he appreciated 
to the full. He kept up a lively correspondence with certain missionaries 
in China, chiefly with Fathers Grimaldi, Verjus and Tolemei, and in 
1701 he drew up a memorandum in which he expatiated on the merits 
of the Jesuit missionaries, and urged the Prussian Academy to establish 
a missionary seminary. 

The attitude of the Jesuit thinkers towards the philosophic system of 
Leibniz is best illustrated in the book by Bernhard Jansen ; this learned 
member of the order expresses the greatest admiration for the philo- 
sophic method evolved by Leibniz, and he is of opinion that Leibniz has 
earned "immortal merit" for natural philosophy by his rehabilitation of 
immanent teleology. Jansen makes the following enthusiastic comment : 
"The most remarkable feature of Leibniz's system, however, is indispu- 
tably his definition of the limits within which it is permissible to interpret 
events as proceeding from effective or from final causes. In its classical 
formulation, he surpasses all his predecessors, even an Aristotle and a 
Thomas Aquinas, and is surpassed by none of his successors, not even 
by Kant in his Critique of Judgment. Like an eagle, he soars in his lofty 
flight above the level of the contemporary mechanical theories, which 
knew only magnitude, number, mass, weight and motion, and attains 


the lofty regions of the Platonic, Aristotelean and Thomistic outlook. 

"From the methodological point of view, his remarkable gift of com- 
prehensive assimilation, combined with an extraordinary ability to 
collate, evolve and shape forth, his power of assembling an immense num- 
ber of experiences and of working them up systematically, his harmoni- 
ous balance between conservatism or tradition and critical keenness or 
independent progress all these are typical of powers possessed to the 
same degree by only a few exceptionally gifted minds. But, of all the 
honoured exponents of the newer philosophy, Leibniz is the nearest to 
the Aristotelean and scholastic system, and to the Christian mode of 

But in spite of all Leibniz's endeavours to bring clarity to the problem 
of free will, he was not successful. He himself, after explaining the dif- 
ficulties presented by the question, finally writes the following resigned 
words : "It is better to say with St. Paul that there are certain sublime 
reasons of wisdom and harmony; these are unknown to mortal man, 
and are founded on the general order of things, the purpose of which 
is the utmost perfection of the universe." 

Free Will in the Light of the Newer Philosophy 

Immanuel Kant was as unsuccessful as his predecessors in finding a 
definitely satisfactory solution to the problem of free will. He was fully 
convinced that every real event is a link in the chain of causality, and 
that, therefore, in this system of reality, no such thing as free will can 
find a place. All human actions, as natural events, are causatively inter- 
dependent, and, if freedom is to be ascribed to our actions, this must 
necessarily be sought outside any causal connexion in time. Kant, in re- 
gard to moral actions, accepts a similar idea of purpose outside time, an 
"intelligible character," in which he sees the regulative principle of ethi- 
cal action. If man, therefore, is regarded as an intelligible character, he 
is free, while at the same time his purely natural actions, causally con- 
ditioned, seem to be completely determined. 

A number of writers have already pointed out that this solution of 
Kant's does not really dispose of the problem, for intelligible freedom 
has no meaning in regard to empirical desires, with which the contro- 
versy over free will is alone concerned. But, above all, intelligible free- 
dom, in Kant's sense, is not real indeterminateness, but is rather only 
a freedom in the sense of its own autonomous causality. 

The manner in which Kant dealt with the problem of free will was 


at a later date greatly admired by Arthur Schopenhauer, who repeatedly 
stated that this theory of Kant's was "one of the finest and most pro- 
foundly conceived which this great mind or, indeed, any other ever 
evolved." Kant himself, however, admits, after expounding his doctrine 
of freedom and its relation to natural necessity: "The solution of the 
difficulty which is set out here, it will be said, contains many abstruse 
features and is hardly susceptible of a lucid explanation." 

Schopenhauer was, however, not discouraged by this, and dealt with 
the question of moral freedom solely on the basis of the distinction made 
by Kant between the empirical and the intelligible character. 

But when, however, Schopenhauer himself sought to remove free- 
dom "from the sphere of individual actions, in which it is demonstrably 
not to be found, to a loftier region which is not so readily accessible to 
our cognition," he was in figurative terms expressing the view that every 
attempt to throw the light of philosophy on the meaning of free will is 
doomed to failure in the end. 

Finally, in our own day, Henri Bergson has studied the problem of the 
will, and he too has arrived at a fundamentally negative result. Accord- 
ing to Bergson, no attempt should be made to consider the notion of free- 
dom from the point of view of causality, for by so doing the psychical is 
immediately changed into something physical, and the real "dynamic" 
relationship of events is converted into something static. 

Every thinker since Descartes had finally to recognize the futility of 
his speculations on this problem, and either admitted this more or less 
frankly, or tried to conceal his failure by means of pseudo-solutions. 
If, however, since the time of the Jansenist controversy, no real progress 
had been made, the efforts of the new philosophers merited commenda- 
tion on the ground that they were at any rate conducted in a peaceable 
manner. Although these quiet sages became more and more involved in 
contradictions, they no longer persecuted poor nuns or imprisoned zeal- 
ous anchorites. Neither king nor pope interfered in the controversies of 
the thinkers, and he who had no interest in the various philosophic sys- 
tems had merely to abstain from reading the literature dealing with the 
matter. For this degree of progress since the times of the "often bloody, 
and always noisy, disputes of the theologians" humanity may well be 

The Jesuits sought with more or less success to refute the arguments 
advanced against the theory of free will. Bearing in mind the great ob- 
scurity of all these speculative theories, and the uncertainty of all the 
thinkers who have grappled with the problem, the counter-theories of 


the Jesuits are not so untenable as to be completely disregarded. So long 
as the controversy over determinism or indeterminism was confined to 
pure philosophy, the order could remain unperturbed. Its point of view 
was neither better nor worse founded than was that of its opponents. 

The Dispute Between the Jesuits and the 
Experimental Psychologists 

But scarcely had the philosophers found themselves forced, towards 
the end of the nineteenth century, to abandon finally their attempts to 
solve the problem of free will, when the psychologists took up the ques- 
tion, asserting that it fell within their province, and that, so far as 
philosophy was concerned, free will was only an illusory problem, while 
psychology, with its introspective and experimental methods, was the 
one means of throwing light upon the subject. 

From now onwards, the dispute over free will, that ominous legacy 
bequeathed by the scholastics, which had for two whole centuries per- 
plexed the philosophers, was transferred to the lecture theatres, schools 
and laboratories of the theoretical and experimental psychologists. 

Wilhelm Wundt was the first to bring the will within the range of ex- 
periment. He hoped to prove that that phenomenon which until then 
had been known simply as the human will might be referred back to sen- 
sations of tension, associative feelings, and their reproduction and per- 
ception. Wundt made a large number of observations in his Leipzig 
laboratory, and, on the basis of the various sensory and muscular reac- 
tions he noted, he came to the conclusion that the will was certainly not 
dependent upon mechanical causality, as the English natural philosophers 
had believed, but that it was determined by an inner "psychical causality." 

The results obtained by Wundt with his experimental mediums ap- 
peared to lead to the conclusion that every act of the will was determined 
by a number of "motives." Free will was thus limited to this, that man 
was obviously capable "by a deliberate choice between various motives" 
to guide himself in his actions. 

This theory of motives soon became a scientific fashion, very much like 
the "vogue of grace" of the seventeenth century. For it was stimulating 
enough to be taught that human actions were the result of some kind of 
occasion, but that such occasions were not to be described as "causes" but 
solely as "motives." But while causes necessarily brought about a definite 
result, this was not so with motives. The connexion between the mo- 
tives and the action following them was not definite and calculable be- 


forehand like the play of mechanical forces; a "choice" had to be made, 
and it was this which decided the final action of the individual. 

Thus this doctrine of motives made it possible to regard the will, on 
the one hand, as determined, thus stilling the rational doubts as to free- 
dom, and, on the other hand, as an agent for practical purposes, and 
thereby restoring that illusion which man had cherished from the earliest 

The experimental psychological method invented by Fechner and 
Wundt was soon to become obsolete owing to the activities of a new and 
apparently more modern school. The Wurzburg professor, Oswald 
Kulpe, established an experimental institution in which the higher men- 
tal processes were investigated and analysed with greater precision. 
Narziss Ach, one of the leading members of this "Wurzburg school," in- 
troduced an entirely new terminology for the designation of the elements 
of consciousness, and the most eager efforts were made to study experi- 
mentally every type of psychical action including that of volition. 

For this purpose, recourse was had especially to the questionnaire 
method. The subject of the experiment was given a certain mental task 
to perform, and he was then asked what inner perceptions he had been 
conscious of while performing the task. A large number of surprising 
results were reached in this manner, which discredited many of the 
former assumptions of psychology. 

Quite independently of the Wurzburg school, the Belgian psycholo- 
gist, Michotte, was also studying the problem of the will by means of 
experimental methods. He endeavoured to discover what really took 
place when a human being was called upon to make a decision. Experi- 
mental subjects were therefore required "to choose" between two given 
alternatives, and to make an exact note of their emotions during 
this process. The first result was a "sensation of activity"; the person 
making the choice breathed more deeply, his muscles contracted and re- 

From the time when sceptical psychologists had begun to conduct lab- 
oratory experiments on the will, and to record by means of measuring 
apparatus and memoranda the phenomena which occurred during the 
making of a choice, the position of the indeterminists appeared to be 
more in danger than ever before. So long as the study of the problem of 
free will had remained confined to the philosophers, the only subject of 
debate was that of freedom or otherwise, and doubt had never been cast 
on the existence of the will as an entity. But with these experiments, the 
will, round which was centred the whole controversy, seemed to have 


become resolved into reactions, sensations and reflexes, a result which 
cast serious doubt on the very existence of the will. 

The Jesuits, however, whose theory of the will had stood the inclem- 
encies of centuries, and whose convictions remained undisturbed either 
by quotations from the fathers or by papal bulls, had now to summon all 
their resources in order to refute the discoveries of the professors of 
psychology ; and once more it became evident that the free will of the 
learned Jesuit fathers was still able to supply proof of its obstinate 

Just as at an earlier period the Society of Jesus had been able to con- 
front the great heretical preachers with their own equally great contro- 
versalists, just as, during the period of the great astronomical discoveries 
which seemed likely to be dangerous to them, they were able to produce 
astronomers of repute to defend the old beliefs, so at this juncture the 
order was not at a loss. Jesuit experimental psychologists were at once 
set to work, in the same laboratories, with the same appliances, in order 
to discover data in favour of the doctrine of free will. 

The Jesuit father, Johann Lindworsky, a psychologist from the Wurz- 
burg school, with no small skill, making use precisely of the most mod- 
ern experimental methods, was successful in producing proofs of the 
freedom of the will, and whoever studies these lucid and convincingly 
written works is forced to the conclusion that the entire method of ex- 
perimental psychology was invented for the very purpose of affirming 
the correctness of the Jesuit theories of the will. 

According to Lindworsky, the results of these experiments indicate an 
"inmost core of will-experience," which "differs from all other psycho- 
logical events such as feeling, thinking, muscular sensations, and the 
like." Mechanistic determinations, to which other psychological events 
may be subject, can therefore have no influence whatever on the will. 
Lindworsky replied in a very emphatic manner to the question whether 
the modern experimental psychology admits in any way of the existence 
of free will by stating that he can "mention no fact which disproves the 
effective freedom of the will." 

But modern psychology demonstrates how little effect the repetition, 
no matter how prolonged, of energetic acts of volition has, as a general 
rule, on a strong will. Ignatius, as early as the sixteenth century, long 
before the time of Wundt, Ach and Michotte, was therefore perfectly 
correct in his assumption that the will must be strengthened and guided 
by the provision of suitable "motives." Lindworsky was surprisingly 
successful in twisting imperceptibly the sober experimental psychological 


analysis in such a manner that the reader becomes involuntarily con- 
vinced of the correctness of the Jesuit theories of free will. 

But hardly had the Jesuits put themselves into the position not only 
to withstand the attacks of modern psychology, but also to use the new 
experimental methods as a means of demonstrating the freedom of the 
will and the correctness of the Jesuit system, when there appeared from 
another direction a new and even more threatening danger for indeter- 

Behaviourism, Plant-Lice and Pavlov's Dog 

One of the finest and most noble characteristics of modern investiga- 
tors, which distinguishes them so worthily from the crazy dogmatists of 
earlier times, is that, whenever they recognize the errors of their new 
theories, they resolutely abandon them. 

Notwithstanding the precise measurements, the questionnaires, and 
all the refinements of scientific precision with which the inquiry into 
the will had been conducted, it had in the end to be admitted that all these 
experiments had no bearing whatsoever upon the act of volition and the 
faculty of decision. What had happened, in fact, was that, under observa- 
tion, the subject had been lost, and all that remained was an extraordi- 
narily refined method of psychological investigation. 

Else Wentscher in her book on the will frankly admits this tragic re- 
sult of these laboratory investigations, and she shows how, during the 
experiments, the experimental subject is in no way able effectively to 
"will" or to "choose" while his experiences are being so carefully studied. 
"It is obvious that an experiment having for its object the manner in 
which a decision is made can have no useful result, since my intention 
to act as a subject of experiment must be formed beforehand, and since 
the various reactions manifested by me during the experiment are re- 
leased without any consciousness of volition in response to the order 
which I have received. Equally little can the experiment decide how the 
determining tendency proceeding from my intention would act under 
other stimuli and the internal or external difficulties that would then 
arise. For, in the case of reactions so prepared, all the factors are absent 
which complicate my actions in life, because they impose on me other 
reactions than those first planned." 

Not less melancholy are the conclusions reached by William James, 
the founder of American "Pragmatism." After many investigations, he 
comes to the conclusion, supported by tedious and somewhat obscure ob- 


servations, that the answer to the question whether or not there is such 
a thing as free will depends on whether the amount of effort of which 
the will is capable is regarded as a fixed reaction on our part which the 
object that resists us necessarily calls forth, or whether, rather, it is 
not more closely related to what the mathematicians call an "independent 
variable." If the amount of our effort is not a definite function of other 
data, then our will may be regarded as free. If, on the other hand, the 
amount of effort put forth by our will is a definite and fixed function of 
external circumstances, then our wills are not free and all our actions 
are pre-determined. 

Stripped of its scientific and mathematical terminology, this explana- 
tion of James's appears to be merely an empty definition which implies 
nothing beyond the statement that the will is not free when it is subject 
to causality, and that it is free when it is not subject to causality. It need 
hardly be pointed out that this statement can hardly be termed a discovery, 
and certainly not an original one. 

James himself finally admits that in the end all experiments fail to 
produce any result when an attempt is made to explore the unfathomable 
complexities of the problem of the will. Whether the will is free or not, 
what freedom or the reverse really implies in relation to the will and, 
finally, what is the nature of that which is described as the will all these 
things, according to the explanation given by James, are absolutely in- 
capable of definition by psychological observations and investigations. 
Hence the final conclusion reached by this thinker is the truth "that the 
question of free will is insoluble on strictly psychologic grounds." 

The gifted simplicity of this statement recalls the sublime humility 
of the great Leibniz when, finally, after all his attempts at establishing 
the will philosophically, he wrote in resignation: "It is better to say 
with St. Paul that there are certain sublime reasons of wisdom and 
harmony ; these are unknown to mortal men. . . ." 

Psychology has thus confessed its incompetence in this matter; never- 
theless it adheres to its firm conviction that in itself it is a science, and 
that there certainly is something which can be described as psychol- 
ogy. On the other hand, Bertrand Russell, that great diagnostician of the 
present, in his Analysis of Mind, points out with great perspicacity what 
is really wrong: the will, he holds, can certainly be observed, but in 
reality it does not exist. What we are accustomed to call "will," "desire" 
and "impulse" is fundamentally not an inner state which can be clearly 
described and verified as an empirically given fact. The word "will," 
strictly speaking, signifies nothing more than a chain of actions which 


reveal a definite and typical sequence. Beneath them we have to under- 
stand a causal law of our deeds and behaviour, but not a something that 
exists in our mind as something independent and real. 

It is clear, Russell holds, that we have the right to say that we wish to do 
this or that, and that we thus act on our intentions ; in this sense the will 
appears as an event capable of being observed ; but all theories that go 
beyond this, treating the will as a happening capable of isolation or 
as a faculty of the soul, are nothing more than a "metaphysical super- 

Although Russell thus clearly demonstrates the futility of all psycho- 
logical investigations into the will, there is in his words a respect, natural 
to the European, for this age-old problem in the history of the mind. 
The new "American science," however, with the wholly merciless in- 
genuousness of its youthful desire for knowledge, rejects entirely this 
obsolescent psychology ; not only are its methods erroneous, but its very 
existence is based upon an error; it is a pseudo-science juggling with 
illusory problems. 

John B. Watson, one of the leaders of this new American school, in 
his fundamental work, Behaviorism, writes in these disparaging terms : 
"It was the boast of Wundt's students, in 1879, when the first psycho- 
logical laboratory was established, that psychology had at last become 
a science without a soul. For fifty years we have kept this pseudo-science, 
exactly as Wundt laid it down. All that Wundt and his students really 
accomplished was to substitute for the word 'soul' the word 'conscious- 

ness/ " 

But how absurd it is to speak even of "consciousness" or of any other 
kind of intellectual hypothesis, since the most recent physiological in- 
vestigations claim to have proved that all so-called processes of con- 
sciousness are attributable to chemical and mechanical reactions ! 

When, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Francis Bacon 
heralded the dawn of a new epoch of human thought, he proclaimed that 
man must learn to think anew, and must for this reason, with a child's in- 
genuous freedom from preconceived ideas, allow himself to be taught by 

"Idols of every kind," Bacon states in his Novum Organum, "must 
be renounced and put away with a fixed and solemn determination, and 
the understanding thoroughly freed and cleansed ; the entrance into the 
kingdom of man, founded on the sciences, being not much other than 
the entrance into the kingdom of heaven, whereinto none may enter 
except as a little child." 


Although a weighty impulse to the study of the empirical sciences, as 
well as many influences which remain active even in our own age, is 
attributable to the mind of Bacon, yet, despite the endeavours which have 
been so fervidly made, European thought has been unable to free itself 
entirely from all the older traditions. It therefore remained for the new 
and unwearied nations, devoid of respect for the past and unfettered by 
piety or tradition, to give full effect to the words which Bacon had 
uttered three hundred years before, and to survey the world in that 
modern and ingenuous manner which the great seventeenth-century rebel 
had demanded. The Russians and Americans, these children of our cul- 
ture, were alone able to encompass that "fixed and solemn determina- 
tion" by which "idols of every kind" could be "renounced and put away." 

With a youthful absence of preconceived ideas, the Russians and 
Americans set to work, unhampered by any "idols," at first to study 
plant-lice and dogs, and on the basis of the discoveries they thus made 
to form an entirely modern conception of the organic world. It is es- 
pecially stimulating to note the simple air of conviction with which 
the great American investigator, Jacques Loeb, comes to the conclusion, 
after studying the behaviour of winged plant-lice when subjected to the 
influence of light, that all the processes in the human being which had 
until that time been termed "soul" are nothing more than exactly con- 
ditioned chemical and physical reactions. 

In his work on "tropisms," Loeb describes the results of the investiga- 
tions undertaken by him, according to which the plant-lice are forced to 
direct their movements towards a source of light, and he explains how it 
is possible, by the use of certain acids, to compel other species of animals 
to behave in a similarly heliotropic manner. According to Loeb, in all 
these cases, the will of the animal is in the light alone, just as the force 
of gravity determines the movement of a falling stone or of a planet. 

Loeb at once proceeds to elaborate the deductions to be made from 
these studies of plant-lice. "These experiments may be of great impor- 
tance from the ethical point of view. The supreme ethical manifestation, 
namely, the fact that men may be willing to sacrifice their lives for an 
idea, is incomprehensible both from the utilitarian point of view and 
from that of the categorical imperative. But even in such a case it may 
well be that under the influence of certain ideas, chemical changes (for 
example, internal secretions) may be set up in the body which increase 
to an extraordinary degree its sensitiveness to certain impulses, so that 
men may be just as much the slaves of certain stimuli as the copepods 
are the slaves of light. That what the philosopher terms an 'idea' is an 


event due to the action of chemical processes on the body, does not today 
seem to us so unacceptable since Pavlov and his followers have been 
successful in producing salivary secretions in a dog by means of optical 
and acoustic signals." 

For, while in America the plant-lice seemed to be digging a grave for 
free will, in St. Petersburg the dogs had produced unassailable evidence 
against Pelagianism. The famous Russian psychologist, I. P. Pavlov, 
had for many years been studying the relation between the feeling of 
sensual desire or the absence of such a feeling, and the salivary secre- 
tions of dogs, and had proved that it was possible to attribute merely to 
conditioned reflexes many events which had previously been regarded 
as "psychical." 

This was wholly in harmony with the modern American theory of 
"Behaviourism," which is based on the assumption that we can know 
external objects only by their behaviour under certain conditions : to 
deduce any interior happening, or a soul, from this behaviour is in any 
case wholly unsound, and should therefore be fundamentally rejected. 
To treat psychology as a science seems to the behaviourists justified 
only so long as it limits itself to studying and noting the manner in which 
living creatures behave in certain external circumstances. 

Pavlov's investigations speedily aroused much interest in New York 
where people began to make systematic experiments on dogs by burning 
their noses with red-hot irons, and observing the symptoms of their 
desires on being confronted with a ham-bone. The American records 
of the salivary secretions under the most varying conditions also led to 
the discovery that free will was a back number. 

Bertrand Russell, one of whose most attractive qualities is a sense of 
humour, usually so uncommon among great students, describes in an 
amusing manner the real significance of the new American theories 
expounded by Watson in regard to behaviour, when he writes : "The 
popular version of behaviourism will, I imagine, be something like 
this : In old days there was supposed to be a thing called the mind, which 
was capable of three types of activity feeling, knowing and willing. 
Now, it has been ascertained that there is no such thing as the mind, but 
only the body. All our activities consist of bodily processes. 'Feel- 
ing' consists of visceral occurrences, particularly such as are connected 
with the glands. 'Knowing' consists of movements of the larynx. 
'Willing' consists of all other movements depending upon striped 

The "Chicago school" has recently outdone all the earlier results of 


the St. Petersburg and New York animal experiments, and the well- 
known professors, Charles Child and Judson Herrick, have formulated 
the theory that the will belongs to the domain of the mechanical and 
physical "vectors"; it is a physiological "gradient" of a type which can 
be expressed in a very simple, brief, and mathematically demonstrable 
formula of "vector analysis." 

These investigations by which thought becomes an activity of the 
larynx, sensation a function of the viscera, and the will an affair of the 
striped muscles seem to have finally abolished the doctrine of the free- 
dom of the human will. But, no matter what the "behaviour" of the 
experimental dogs in St. Petersburg and New York may be, no matter 
what chemical process occurs in Jacques Loeb's plant-lice, no matter what 
mechanical or electrodynamic "gradients" the Chicago levelling instru- 
ments may record, free will is only apparently defunct. 

The Jesuits of an earlier age refused to allow their convictions to be 
shaken by the miracles in favour of the Jansenist doctrine of predestina- 
tion, and now they are not disposed to yield to the brutal prosiness of the 
modern physiological, chemical and electrodynamic investigations. 

They hold that with all the earlier discoveries of the empirical sciences, 
whether in astronomy, physics or chemistry, it had always at first ap- 
peared that the old faiths were completely destroyed by these new dis- 
coveries, as if no reasonable man could henceforth believe in the exist- 
ence of a God, of mind, or of free will. Nevertheless, it has ever and 
again been the case that from the ranks of the faithful members of the 
order, one member has emerged to study the stars, another has devoted 
himself to the logarithmic tables, a third has bent over the microscope, 
and a fourth has betaken himself to the chemical laboratory, in order 
that, equipped with the most reliable apparatus of the exact sciences, 
they might again prove the very contrary of that which the new investi- 
gations at first seemed to have proved. 

The pious fathers made use of the same apparatus as their lay op- 
ponents, produced the same reactions on animals, and finally proved 
from the same dogs and plant-lice, with no less pride, that, in spite of 
everything, God existed, that there were such things as a soul, an in- 
tellect, and notwithstanding the assertions of their enemies also 
free will, and that these were from all time to all eternity. 

To the haughty "finis" of secular science, the Jesuits, at the conclu- 
sion of their studies, in Christian humility, retorted with a not less firm 
and resolute "amen." Thus, Father Erich Wasmann, the great Jesuit 
zoologist, has succeeded, by means of his well-known studies of ants, 


bees and other insects, in proving the existence of God, and, by means 
of the "behaviour" of the insects, revealed the existence of an omniscient 
and benevolent Creator and Ruler of the universe. By the aid of palseon- 
tological entomology, Wasmann is even endeavouring to establish the 
Biblical story of the Creation more firmly and more unshakably than 
even the most enlightened pietists and the most learned scholastics were 
ever able to do. 

In opposition to the monistic doctrine of existence which denies that 
there is a God or mind, the Jesuits have produced a regular "insect- 
theology," and they will be fully capable of defending free will with 
some measure of success against the new Russo-American attacks. It 
may be anticipated that once again the Society of Jesus will make use 
of the same weapons as its opponents, and we may shortly look for a 
"Behaviour-Molinism" as the latest Jesuit theory. Pavlov's dog may 
bark never so loudly, the army of Loyola's disciples, which has been 
journeying for so many centuries, will nevertheless move steadily and 
unperturbedly onwards. 



Free Will and Responsibility 

NOT infrequently, examinations into the fundamental problems of 
human existence have ultimately led to the conclusion that, not- 
withstanding the utmost efforts to arrive at definite solutions, nothing 
else remains but to accept resignedly the fact that the much-discussed 
problems are incapable of solution. With the exception of professional 
thinkers, philosophers, theologians and psychologists, humanity has, in 
general, without demur, and, indeed, without any appreciable regret, 
accommodated itself to a situation that cannot be altered and has def- 
initely abandoned all hope of exact information. Further discussions and 
investigations have been readily left to institutions maintained for this 
purpose, universities, seminaries, laboratories and monasteries ; in these 
institutions those persons who desired to probe further into insoluble 
problems were discreetly secluded from the outside world. Thus human- 
ity has succeeded in maintaining through centuries and ages its con- 
tinued existence under tolerably favourable conditions, unmoved by the 
obscure problems of existence. 

Controversy over the freedom of the will has alone broken down this 
unwritten pact between humanity and its thinkers, has disturbed this 
agreement, by virtue of which the philosophers, in order to relieve an 
otherwise over-harassed world of supererogatory troubles, were to con- 
fine themselves within their sleepy academies and wearisome congresses. 

With a persistence and a violence totally unfitted to a problem of such 
depth and importance, the doctrines about the freedom or otherwise of 
the will have penetrated into all classes of society, and, like an evil pesti- 
lence, have demanded their victims. The strongest as well as the weak- 
est heads have fallen victim to the epidemic, ardent theological con- 
troversialists and literary men of intellectual standing, no less than 
barren pamphleteers and nuns of gentle nature and pious minds. 

The explanation of the devastating consequences of this brooding 
over the question of free will is to be found in the vague, perhaps false, 



but nevertheless quite indisseverable, relationship which the human mind 
from the earliest times has established between the will and the ethical 
and juridical judgment of human actions. For this reason, the problem 
whether our wills are in fact free seems to have acquired enormous 
practical significance in the whole field of civil and ecclesiastical law in 
the western world. 

This fateful association of ethics with the problem of the will can be 
traced back to certain doctrines of Aristotle, and it may well be said that 
this Greek philosopher bequeathed to mankind not only a fund of valu- 
able knowledge, but also a number of really momentous errors. It is 
to the views propounded by this Greek thinker that we owe the whole 
subsequent lack of certainty, prevailing even today, in the determination 
of moral and juridical problems; and whoever attempts to study, with 
aU dup impartiality, even the most modern moral teachings or works on 
the philosophy of law, will, quite early, feel himself enshrouded in a 
dense obscurity arising out of the mass of age-old false conceptions. 

Democritus had, indeed, handed down two pronouncements to the 
effect that, not man's actions, but the intention behind the actions, should 
form the criterion of moral judgment : "Virtue does not consist in re- 
fraining from doing evil, but in willing no evil. ... An evil person 
is not he who doe^ evil, but he who designs to do evil." Plato also de- 
clared in his ninth book of Laws that the man who performs an action 
unconsciously and without definite intention cannot be held to have 
done wrong. The fundamental thing is not the act performed but the 
thought behind it. 

But it was Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, who was the first 
to work up into a system this relationship between the will and ethics ; 
and his conclusions accordingly became the basis of most later concep- 
tions in morality and law. Aristotle sets out by assuming that virtue is 
a form of activity of the will; the will can, however, be regarded as the 
underlying basis of morality only if it be recognized as having full con- 
sciousness. He considers that our will is at all times able to form con- 
scious decisions, and, accordingly, it is always within the power of man 
to decide whether to do right or wrong. 

Later jurisprudence in the states of ancient Hellas conformed en- 
tirely to the views formulated by Aristotle : for example, under Greek 
law, deliberate murder was regarded as a serious crime meriting death, 
whereas the killing of a person unintentionally and without premeditated 
malice was visited with a much less severe punishment. The Roman 
Stoics also adopted this view, and similarly upheld the doctrine that vir- 


tuous and reprehensible actions were distinguished one from the other 
only by the good or evil intention of the doer. 

The celebrated conception of the dolus, or evil intention, evolved with 
such care by the Roman jurists, is based entirely on the acceptance of the 
principle that the conscious will is the bearer of moral and legal responsi- 
bility ; a dolus exists only when the will to act in a manner forbidden by 
the law is there. Whereas originally, in assessing the punishment that 
should be inflicted, considerable weight had been given to the conse- 
quences arising out of an action, under the later conception, influenced 
by the Greek philosophy, practically equal importance was attached to 
both the action and the wrongful intention. 

In this, as in many other matters, the Christian world, during the 
Middle Ages, adhered closely to the Graco-Roman traditions. In tlje 
writings of the fathers of the Church, Chrysostom and Ambrose, as well 
as of the patriarch Germanus and later Abelard and his great opponent 
Bernard of Clairvaux, there are numerous passages which clearly in- 
dicate agreement with the legal conception of the freedom of the will. 
St. Chrysostom writes : "God punishes or rewards not the deed as such 
but the intention." Abelard, too, expressly says : "God does not judge 
actions but intentions." 

As scholasticism fell more and more under the influence of the writ- 
ings of Aristotle, so in Christian mediaeval thought did the views of the 
Stagirite get more clearly the upper hand. Thomas Aquinas evolved a 
complete system out of the principle that no action as such had any moral 
content, except in so far as it sprang from an act of the free will. But 
in due course temporal jurisprudence as well fell more and more under 
the domination of the principle that not the deed, but the intention of the 
doer, should form the basis of adjudication. 

The Jesuits and Absolution 

All the numerous text-books on morals written by Jesuit authors are 
filled with instructions to the father-confessors to practise, wherever 
possible, the utmost leniency in the exercise of the office they have re- 
ceived from God as judges of morals, so as not to render it unduly dif- 
ficult for believers to partake of the penitential sacrament and not to bar 
their road to salvation. The father-confessor is, therefore, urged to act 
towards the penitent in such a way "that from the moment he leaves the 
confessional, he is disposed to return to it quickly." "Send no one away 
dejected," wrote Ignatius to his disciple, Simon Rodriguez, at Lisbon. 


According to the unanimous view of all Catholic theologians, man 
stores up for himself, during his life here on earth, rewards or punish- 
ments, which are meted out to him in the life after death; upon his be- 
haviour on earth his future fate depends, and he who departs this life 
unreconciled with God has no further opportunity for reconciliation 
with the Creator or for securing the remission of the condemnation he 
has incurred. 

The Jesuits, however, knew that, although man's conscience urged 
him to adhere to virtue, he was constantly impelled to commit sin by evil 
desires. The task of ensuring eternal bliss for all men of good will ap- 
peared, therefore, to be continually brought to naught by the imperfec- 
tions and sinfulness of man : how could the poor mortal, conscious of his 
weakness and his many failings, hope for salvation? Daily and hourly 
he found himself in conflict with God's ordinances. 

Thus then, the chief aim of the Jesuits was to draw as many as pos- 
sible, by the exercise of leniency, to the confessional, so that, by the dis- 
pensation of absolution, they might be saved from eternal damnation. 
For absolution granted by the priest, according to the Catholic creed, 
was held to have the effect of restoring the sinner to a state of complete 
innocence, or at least of commuting the eternal punishment of hell for a 
punishment of limited duration. As, however, the Jesuits were fully 
conscious that humanity in general is inclined to take alarm at too much 
strictness, and that people were seldom prepared to endure severe pen- 
ances in this life in the hope of salvation in the next, a completely new 
system of indulgence in the judging of all sinful failings had to be 
thought out. 

Catholic teaching distinguishes between two forms of repentance for 
sins committed: the so-called "natural remorse," or attritio, arising 
from fear of God's punishment, and the "full penitence," or contritio, 
arising from the consciousness of the sinful nature of an action and 
from love towards God. According to the doctrines of the moral theo- 
logians, "attrition" sufficed for the remission of an offence and for the 
admission of the sinner to the sacrament, provided that the intention 
existed to refrain from the commission of further sin. Certain among 
the Jesuits have gone very far in this respect. Thus, for example, the 
casuist Fillucius writes that the slightest degree of repentance is quite 
sufficient to secure absolution, even if the penitent merely acknowledges 
that he would willingly feel repentance. 

In their endeavour to bring as many human sins as possible within the 
compass of absolution, the Jesuits were very effectively aided by Aris- 


totle's doctrine of the freedom of the will, which had already hitherto 
exercised such a strong influence on the ethical and juridical judgment 
of human actions. For the Jesuits, whose whole energies were devoted to 
ensuring for even the weakest of mortals the attainment of bliss and 
admission to the kingdom of heaven, this system was bound to assume 
the utmost importance. 

If, for example, man were credited with a will on which alone it de- 
pended whether good was good and evil evil, it was possible, by a 
thoroughly plausible argument, to reach the conclusion that humanity 
did not contravene God's moral decrees quite so frequently as might 
originally have appeared to be the case. To be sure, everyone was con- 
stantly committing what, to all outward appearances, were wrongful 
actions ; but in how many cases could it not be said that the freedom of 
the will and, therefore, the responsibility of the wrong-doer were re- 
stricted or entirely eliminated by a variety of circumstances ! 

The pupils of Loyola, therefore, endeavoured, systematically and with 
all that logical accuracy which was a feature of the scholastic mind, to 
judge every conceivable case of human transgression according to 
whether the ultimate underlying intention was good or bad ; and in this 
way indeterminism found in Jesuit moral casuistry its most practical 

It is this, however, which gives to Jesuitism its exceptional signifi- 
cance. The question how far the conscious will enters into the perform- 
ance of an action, and what relationship exists between intention and 
guilt, is still even today widely disputed. Jesuit morality has made it 
possible, because it has drawn the most extreme conclusions from an 
indeterminist code of morals, to observe the results to which such a sys- 
tem, based entirely on the thesis of the freedom of the will, must ulti- 
mately lead. 

According to the Jesuit conception, morality consists in establishing 
harmony between the human will and that of God ; consequently, human 
acts are capable of a moral evaluation only in so far as they are accom- 
plished by "election," by a voluntary choice between good and evil. It 
thus follows that generally only those actions which are the result of 
such a "free elective decision" can be regarded as moral or immoral ; the 
action in and for itself acquires its ethical character only through con- 
scious intention. 

"As the law was given to man and not to beasts, and, accordingly, 
must be fulfilled in human fashion," writes the celebrated moral theo- 
logian Busembaum, "the fulfilment of every moral prescription, whether 


it be human or divine, must constitute a human act, and, consequently, 
must be accomplished in freedom and with the will of the actor." 

It follows from this, however, according to Busembaum, that an act 
fen be regarded as sinful only if, in the performance of the act, the in- 
tention exists to violate the moral order of the world. For just as a good 
action is nothing else than a voluntary compliance with moral law, so a 
sinful action is a "voluntary departure" from moral standards, "an ac- 
tion or an omission which is not merely intentional, but also is free, and 
contains some evil intention." f 

This principle, the Jesuits maintain, still holds good even in the case 
of a person attacked by reprehensible desires. So long as he does not 
"give way to them of his own volition," he is either entirely blameless 
or at least his responsibility is very much minimized. Accordingly, one 
cannot be held to account for sinful thoughts, heretical impulses, sensual 
imaginings and carnal cravings, unless they are "brought about inten- 
tionally" or are "wilfully assented to." 

As an example of a sin which loses its reprehensible character by 
reason of lack of acquiescence of the will, Gury quotes the case of a 
woman to whom violence has been offered : "A woman who has offered 
every possible resistance to violation commits no sin, even if her chastity 
is defiled; for none sins in that which happens against his will." 

Even in the earliest instructions and letters of the founder of the 
order, this conception of the sinlessness of involuntary desires is evi- 
dent; in the year 1536, for instance, Ignatius wrote to his friend, 
Theresa Rejadella, who, as a nun, in her convent at Barcelona was tor- 
tured by sinful temptations : "Do not distress yourself regarding wicked 
or sensual cravings, or on account of the sense of your imperfections or 
weakness, so long as they are in no degree attributable to your con- 
scious vice. For not even St. Peter or St. Paul has gone so far as to con- 
tend that humanity is entirely proof against such things. . . . What 
alone is of importance is that I should govern my spirit according to 
God's will. . . ." 

The Jesuit writings on moral casuistry all emphasize in the introduc- 
tory chapters that the father-confessor must examine closely into the in- 
tentions of the penitent before pronouncing judgment. Thus, while it is 
recognized that unchastity is essentially a grave sin, yet it should be 
regarded as such only "when the yielding to cravings of the flesh is 
conscious and deliberate." 

Gury, in his moral teachings, cites a large number of cases where ap- 
parently grave offences against the law of chastity should go unpunished. 


Not only is it no sin to read improper books, provided the reader does 
not deliberately seek sensual excitement, but also "pollutio nocturna 
culpa vacat" if it is not "intentionally brought about" and "acquiesced 
in." A variety of actions may indeed involve the danger of sensual ex- t 
citement, but are, nevertheless, not sinful, provided the intention pre- 
vails not to give way deliberately to the sensual excitement which may 
be expected to arise. 

"If," writes Busembaum, " a person, without constraint or necessity, 
performs an action which he knows will normally bring about stimula- 
tion of the flesh as, for example, when, from curiosity, he reads or lis- 
tens to something evil he is guilty only of a minor sin, if no direct 
intention and no risk of assent exist. If he has any justifiable reason for 
his action, he commits no sin at all." 

Even in the case of offences against the principles of the faith, Gury 
applies the principle of exculpation in the absence of conscious acqui- 
escence of the will. He certainly emphasizes this, that to doubt God's 
revelation is a grave sin against the authority of the revealing Deity, but 
this is at the same time qualified as follows : "He who, though outwardly 
professing a heresy, is not inwardly heretical, is not a true heretic." 
Only he who, of his own will and with the consent of his mind, doubts 
the truths of the faith is to be regarded as a heretic. 

The apparently simple assumption that an action was wrongful only 
when a wrongful intention definitely existed enabled the Jesuits in many 
instances to absolve sinners who had outwardly contravened the laws of 
the Church. This absolution attained a much wider latitude when it be- 
came the practice to examine logically, quite in accordance with the 
doctrines of Aristotle, into the precise circumstances governing the ex- 
tent to which the will was free or restricted. According to Aristotle, the 
will can be regarded as being free only in cases where comprehension and 
reasoned judgment are preliminary to the exercise of the will ; a free 
decision of the will is possible only on the basis of a clear appreciation 
of the circumstances prevailing within and without. This led the Jesuits, 
quite logically, to the moral principle that man's actions are capable of 
judgment from a moral standpoint only if, in their performance, the will 
and reason have functioned freely. The object of the will, therefore, can 
only be that which has first of all been understood by the mind ; without 
understanding, no true act of will can take place. 

Consistently with this theory, the most modern Jesuit moral theo- 
logian, Victor Cathrein, regards morality as "merely a certain manner 
in which an action proceeds from the reason and the will." If something 


is performed in such a way "that the reason is mindful of the relation- 
ship of the action to the established standards of human conduct and the 
decision of the will is freely reached," then the action is moral ; in cases 
where these conditions are not satisfied, then the actions "are no longer 
susceptible of moral judgment, and are neither praiseworthy nor blame- 

Thus, according to the Jesuit notion, two conditions have to be 
satisfied before an action can be judged from a moral point of view. The 
reason must be in a position to judge the relationship of the contemplated 
action to the moral law, and the will must "decide freely on action in the 
light of this understanding." "If my reason tells me," says Cathrein, 
"that an action conforms to moral law, and I decide freely on the ac- 
tion, then the action is morally good; if my reason tells me that the 
action is opposed to moral standards, and I, nevertheless, decide on the 
action, then it is morally bad." If, however, in this way, every action 
which is susceptible of moral judgment presupposes the exercise of the 
reason, then only those persons who are fully able to exercise their rea- 
soning powers can properly be judged strictly according to the laws. 

This basing of responsibility on reasoned judgment, on consciousness 
and on "due reflection" creates manifold possibilities of limiting the 
number of men's sins. According to this doctrine, man must in no wise 
be held accountable for actions performed in ignorance, even though 
they may have been intentional and in themselves sinful ; ignorance an- 
nuls the necessary freedom of choice of the will and, therefore, all re- 

The degree of guilt is furthermore minimized by every other factor 
which might influence clear judgment and conscious thought while the 
will is reaching its decision. Chief among these factors are f orgetfulness 
and inattention. Whoever omits to perform a good action on account of 
lack of thought is to be held accountable only in a very limited degree for 
any sinfulness involved in the omission. "The light of knowledge which 
is essential for the free exercise of the will" is also absent in this case. 

A careful distinction is made in the Jesuit moral theology between 
ignorantia juris and ignorantia facti, between ignorantia vincibilis and 
ignorantia invincibilis, according to the effort made to acquire the neces- 
sary knowledge. Believers are, however, comforted by a reference to 
the fact that "there is no law which requires that any very strong effort 
should be made." 

The same blameless ignorance can be invoked in the case of actions 
prompted by inordinate desire, for in these cases too we are, to some ex- 


tent at least, deprived of our powers of clear reasoning: "An action 
which is the outcome of an inordinate desire is certainly an act of the 
will," says Gury, "but it is by no means formally voluntary and free; 
for, as the attention of the mind is completely annulled, so too must 
freedom and self-determination be completely lacking." 

Similarly, fear sets aside clear judgment and free decision, and, con- 
sequently, responsibility ; like inordinate desire, therefore, it acquits of 
grave sin. But fear also ensures exoneration even when a moral law has 
been violated by someone because otherwise a material prejudice was to 
be feared. "Moreover, it often happens," writes Busembaum, "that cer- 
tain prescriptions are not binding when their observance would bring 
about a grave injury. Whoever, therefore, from fear of such injury, 
fails to observe a prescription does not commit sin, since, in this case, the 
prescription is not valid." 

Therefore, according to Gury, an adulteress is not compelled to con- 
fess her fault to her husband, as, by so doing, she would expose herself 
to the danger of incurring his hatred and thus place her life in peril, or at 
least otherwise prejudice herself seriously. Further, a servant is per- 
mitted to aid and abet his master in wrong-doing, when a refusal would 
cost him his place. 

Thus, with the premise that actions could acquire a moral character 
only when they were prompted by the clearly conscious will, and when 
the will, in turn, was governed by the mind, it came about that there 
was a whole series of sins for which man should not be made fully re- 
sponsible. Naturally, the sinner could not in every case be straightway 
acquitted of his offence, but in most cases it was possible to find means of 
at least minimizing his guilt. In those cases where it did not appear pos- 
sible to grant complete absolution forthwith, the system enabled the 
offence to be regarded as a "venial sin" instead of a "mortal sin." 

For the Catholic Church distinguishes between those grave offences 
against God's laws which are severely punishable, and which are desig- 
nated as "mortal sins," and those minor offences which are nothing more 
than a "falling short of God's demands." Whilst "mortal sin" excludes 
man from the Kingdom of Heaven, and brings down the wrath of the 
Creator on the offending mortal, the punishment for venial sin is not 
nearly so severe : even the most righteous are not free from such sins, 
and God is appeased by a light earthly penance. 

The Jesuits, who were concerned first and last with securing for weak 
mortals absolution from their sins, found, with the help of the ancient 
conclusions of Aristotle, an easy means of transforming a large number 


of mortal sins into venial sins. Their moral theologians, while adhering 
closely to the definitions of the Church, taught that the "objectively 
grave sin" was also "subjectively" grave, involving eternal damnation, 
only when the sinner offended against the law of God "consciously and 
deliberately, and, therefore, with full appreciation and with complete 
freedom of the will." The punishment for deadly sin, they declared, is so 
severe solely for the reason that such sin must be regarded as a con- 
scious and deliberate defiance of God ; if, however, a clear consciousness 
of the sinful nature of the action is absent, or if the freedom of the will 
is lacking, then the subjective guilt is only of a venial nature, however 
grave the sin may appear objectively. 

Ignatius himself draws this particular distinction, based on the ac- 
quiescence of the will, between mortal and venial sins ; he once wrote, 
for instance, that man commits a grave sin "if he acquiesces in an evil 
thought," whilst only venial sin is committed "if the thought of commit- 
ting a mortal sin enters into a man's mind," and he "entertains the 
thought for a very short time or derives some sensual satisfaction from 
it," but finally denies his assent to it. 

This view is to be found thorughout almost the whole field of Jesuit 
moral casuistry. Juan de Castillo, for example, holds that even theft is a 
venial sin, if it is committed without due reflection. With correct under- 
standing and anticipating our modern conception of "kleptomania," he 
recognizes "that there are people who appropriate a thing before they 
become fully conscious of what they are doing." 

"The End Justifies the Means" 

The Jesuits were, however, clever enough not only to develop the 
negative side of the theory of the freedom of the will into an organized 
system of absolution by demonstrating in numerous cases that the of- 
fender had no intention of committing evil, but also, on the other hand, to 
indicate, from the positive character of the will, a number of grounds for 
the exoneration of wrong-doing. If an attempt is made to determine, as 
regards a particular act, what the real intention of the "will" was in the 
matter, it is frequently observed that, although objectively the act may 
have been inadmissible, yet subjectively the intention may have been 

These considerations soon led, indeed, to very difficult and thorny 
ground. Everything was clear enough so long as it was a question of the 
simple relationship between the intention and the intended act ; whoever 


strove with good will to do good could not possibly thereby transgress 
the moral laws. What, however, was the position when the good inten- 
tion was directed towards a remote end, the attainment of which was 
possible only through the employment of some intermediate means, 
which in and for itself was not willed? Would this means, in every case, 
become good because it was to serve a good end ? 

The Jesuits now hold the view that, in many instances, a good inten- 
tion can justify even the choice of less good means. They contend that, in 
the abstract, man's moral consciousness is certainly primarily disposed to 
regard the application of immoral means to a moral end as essentially to 
be condemned; in practical life, however, innumerable instances have, 
over and over again, tended to lead to the opposite conclusion. How 
often does it not happen that we are compelled to tell a lie to avoid in- 
juring someone, and it is easy to conceive of a case in which a lie might 
be the means of saving a person's life. 

Thus it can often enough happen that man's moral consciousness may 
place the ultimate purpose of an act on a higher plane than the means by 
which it is attained ; it is by no means an unusual thing to feel that the 
person responsible for an act had no intention of committing an offence, 
that the purpose in view was, on the contrary, good, and that the employ- 
ment of reprehensible means was a necessity. 

The ancient Jewish m x oral code had of old permitted a wide use of 
means, in themselves forbidden, when these were to serve a praiseworthy 
end. Thus the Talmud expressly says that, where necessary, even un- 
chastity and idolatry are permissible in order to preserve God's holy 
name from profanation (Qiddushin, 4Oa; Sanhedrin, lo/a; and Yeba- 
moth, 7Qa). Martin Luther, too, frequently defended wrongful actions 
performed in the cause of the true faith, as, for example, when, on the 
occasion of a meeting with the councillors of the Landgrave of Hesse, 
he made the remark : "What wrong can there be in telling a downright 
good lie for a good cause and for the advancement of the Christian 

Similarly, many of the fathers and scholars of the mediaeval church 
acknowledged the permissibility of immoral acts for a moral end. Chrys- 
ostom himself says : "Seest thou not how not only God but man too 
accepts the principle that regard should be had not to the nature of an 
action, but to its purpose?" The patriarch Germanus expressed himself 
still more plainly: "Everywhere the aim of the actor is taken into con- 
sideration, and this aim either acquits him of guilt or condemns him." 

Similar maxims can be found in Augustine : "The intention justifies 


the deed, but faith prompts the intention. Pay no great heed to what a 
man does, but rather to what he has in mind in doing. . . . One and the 
same matter, measured by the varying purpose behind it, becomes a sub- 
ject for approbation or abhorrence, merit or condemnation." 

"I venture to say," writes Bernard of Clairvaux, "that only the good 
intention is worthy of praise; good will is not shorn of its merit even 
when the action itself is not good." Similar views are expressed by 
Abelard, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas; the 
last asks the question "whether human actions are, in general, good or 
bad, according to the end in view," and answers it very decidedly in the 

The question of the relationship between the end and means was, in 
the hey-day of scholasticism, the subject of a heated dispute between 
Thomas Aquinas and his Nominalist opponent, the doctor sublimis, 
Duns Scotus. The latter had contended that there are a considerable 
number of actions, in themselves indifferent, which cannot be brought 
into any moral relationship with the causing will. Thomas Aquinas, on 
the other hand, denied the possibility of any such indifferent acts, and 
maintained that in every action man has some purpose in view, which 
is necessarily either in conformity with or opposed to his judgment, and 
thus must be either morally good or bad; morally indifferent actions 
are, therefore, quite inconceivable. 

According to this conception of Thomas Aquinas, which later became 
solely predominant, the morality of every action is apparently deter- 
mined entirely by the end in view. An act of volition which had for its 
object the fulfilment of the divine law rendered all actions necessary to 
its accomplishment morally praiseworthy and imparted to these actions 
"its specific goodness." 

The victory of the Thomist view over that of Scotus must later have 
been uncommonly welcome tcf the Jesuits, since they saw in it the pos- 
sibility of extending the "remission of sins" much further than would 
otherwise have been feasible ; so that, on this point too, they made of 
Thomas's system one of the main pillars of moral philosophy. 

Nevertheless, it is erroneous to assert that the Society of Jesus, out of 
the moral significance of the ultimate end, coined the maxim that the end 
justifies the means. In point of fact, this celebrated maxim was origi- 
nated, not by the Jesuits, but by Machiavelli, who in his treatise on The 
Prince declared that immoral means may be chosen, if the end to be 
achieved by them outweighs the evil. The Society of Jesus, on the con- 
trary, has never expressly advanced such a thesis, and, even though 


many Jesuit casuists hold that to whomsoever the end is permitted must 
also the necessary means be allowed, yet the qualification is always added 
that wrongful means are always to be deprecated. In this sense, the 
Jesuit moral theologian, Laymann, expressly declares : "The presence of 
a good purpose lends no goodness to an action in essence bad, but leaves 
to this action its badness in every way." Gury also says that it is never 
permissible to do the slightest wrong as a means of doing good. 

Cathrein, the most recent Jesuit moralist, writes on this question 
very clearly : 'The will, if directed towards a morally wrongful object, 
cannot be made good by virtue of any outward purpose. Whoever, there- 
fore, acknowledges the wrongful nature of theft cannot decide to steal 
for however good a purpose, without imparting to his will the quality of 
wrongfulness. If the principle that 'the end justifies the means' is to be 
interpreted as covering the use of means (actions) which are morally 
wrong or sinful, then it is to be absolutely repudiated. . . . The Jesuits 
merely hold, as do all reasonable persons, with St. Paul (i Cor., x, 31) 
that morally indifferent or good actions may and should be justified by 
good intentions. " 

Nevertheless, the opponents of Jesuitism have from the first onwards 
transformed the doctrine of the judgment of the will into the maxim 
that a good end justifies even wrongful means, and have asserted that 
the order expressly upholds this reprehensible maxim. It was, in especial, 
Protestant and Old-Catholic theologians who, in later times, repeatedly 
revived this thesis; finally, the same accusation was in 1873 brought be- 
fore the Judiciary Committee of the German Bundesrat. 

The books in which this principle has been attributed to the Jesuits fill 
whole libraries, and this fact is not least due to Pascal's attack on the 
Society of Jesus. 

In the Provincial Letters, Pascal introduces a Jesuit with whom he 
carries on a long dialogue on the spirit, the moral principles and the ac- 
tivity of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuit advances with an amiable smile 
the most reprehensible moral principles, and supports them in every case 
from the writings of Jesuit moral casuists. Shocked by the maxims he 
has just heard, the author of the letters hastens to a Jansenist friend, 
who demonstrates to him by means of ancient authors that the Jesuit 
moral philosophy constitutes a perversion of all the principles of the 
Catholic Church. 

Pascal attacks with exceptional severity the Jesuit doctrine that the 
morality or immorality of human actions is determined by the will. "We 
at least purify the intention/' Pascal makes his Jesuit say, "when we 


cannot prevent the action itself, and in this way, we better by a good 
purpose the evil of the means." 

This doctrine, Pascal thinks, separates the intention from the deed, 
pleases the world, because it sanctions every action, and at the same time 
satisfies the Gospel, because it purifies the intention. 

But this statement of the matter could have meant only that the Jesuits 
used the relationship between the end and the means in order to lend a 
semblance of goodness to something that is bad ; the accusation, which 
later became so notorious, that the order propounded the doctrine that the 
end justifies the means does not appear in the Provincial Letters. But 
the whole manner in which Pascal expounded Jesuit moral philosophy 
must necessarily have suggested this reproach to later critics, and, accord- 
ingly, it is to some extent due to the Provincial Letters that the Jesuits, 
in later writings, have repeatedly been accused of so cynical a doctrine. 

To this polemical work of Pascal's is also to be traced back the charge 
that the Jesuits had devised an artifice whereby it was made possible for 
a person to speak untruthfully without being guilty of telling a formal 
lie; that, by means of an astute method which the Jesuits had evolved, it 
was possible to swear false oaths and to practise every form of deception 
and fraud on one's neighbour just as readily and easily as was formerly 
possible only by committing the two sins of perjury and lying which the 
Church forbade with the utmost vehemence. 

"I will just explain to you," the Jesuit declares in the Provincial Let- 
ters, "those facilities which our teachers have provided for avoiding the 
commission of certain sins in our relations with our fellow-men. The 
commonest and greatest difficulty in this connexion is to avoid lying; 
but it is here that our principle of the use of ambiguous words is of very 
considerable value; according to this principle, it is permissible to use 
vague terms and to employ them, when speaking to another person, in a 
sense other than that which is in the mind. ... Do you know what is 
done in those cases when it is not possible to think of such ambiguous ex- 
pressions ? It is a new discovery : it is the doctrine of the secret mental 

In actual fact, the Jesuit casuists deal with two forms of permissible 
deception : that of "amphibology" and that of reservatio mentalis. "Am- 
phibology" is nothing else than the the employment of ambiguous terms 
calculated to mislead the questioner; "mental reservation" consists in 
answering a question, not with a direct lie, but in such a way that the 
truth is partly suppressed, certain words bing formulated mentally but 
not expressed orally. In both cases, nothing openly inconsistent with the 


truth is formally brought forward, and to this extent, therefore, the 
Jesuits consider that both amphibology and the mental reservation can 
be excepted from, the general interdiction of lying. 

The numerous Jesuit works devoted to the defence of the order 
against the charges levelled against it on account of this doctrine are 
mostly concerned with demonstrating that we are not compelled to ren- 
der account of intimate matters to every uninvited questioner. How 
often does it not happen that a full disclosure of the actual truth might 
result in grave prejudice to the person making the disclosure, or to 
others ; furthermore, it frequently happens that a statement of the actual 
truth is not possible without a violation of the principle of professional 
secrecy or at least a serious breach of confidence. 

Moreover, the Jesuits assert that their casuistry admits of amphi- 
bology and the reservatio mentalis only in cases where a very strong 
ground exists for the preservation of secrecy ; such an expedient must, 
on the other hand, never be employed when it is definitely incumbent 
upon a person to speak the truth, as, for example, when giving evidence 
in a court of law or when concluding a contract. 

The Jesuits have, indeed, provided for the case where a person is 
called upon to give evidence before an unauthorized judge or under an 
irregular procedure; in such a case, the witness is certainly permitted 
to answer ambiguously or with reservations : "To swear equivocally is 
permissible/' writes Busembaum, "if the oath is wrongfully demanded 
or if the taking of the oath is required by an unauthorized person, as, for 
example, an unqualified judge. The same applies if the oath is not in 
accordance with the established procedure of the court or if the swearing 
of the oath is enforced either by violence, injustice or fear. . . ." 

As regards the mental reservation in particular, this is permissible, 
according to the Jesuit apologetic writings, only in those cases in which 
the person addressed "is able to ascertain the truth, if not from the words 
alone, at least from all the circumstances surrounding the person, the 
time and the environment." A person's remarks should always be con- 
sidered in relation to the conditions at the time, and the questioner has 
only himself to blame if he fails to interpret correctly what is said by the 
other person. The Jesuits hold that neither intentional ambiguity nor the 
fact of making a mental reservation can be regarded as lying, since, in 
both cases, all that happens is that "one's neighbour is not actually de- 
ceived, but rather his deception is permitted only for a justifiable cause." 

The Jesuits draw attention to the fact that the Bible itself contains 
instances of equivocal remarks and of the reservatio mentalis: according 


to the Gospel of St. John, for example, Jesus said that he would not go to 
Judea to the Feast of the Tabernacles (John, vn, 8 et seq.)> but, never- 
theless, he went "not openly, but as it were in secret." The Jesuit ex- 
planation of this passage is that Christ, while declaring that he would 
, not go to Judea, manifestly made a mental reservation. 

Of St. Paul, too, it is stated in the Acts of the Apostles (xxm, 5) 
that he said : "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest" ; since, 
however, Paul knew the high priest perfectly well, this passage must 
be interpreted as meaning that the apostle meant to convey : "I know only 
one high priest and that is Jesus Christ." 

Reference is also made to passages from the writings of the fathers 
of the Church, which would seem to sanction such expedients in order 
to avoid a direct lie ; Augustine, for example, in his twenty-second letter 
denouncing the schismatic, Faustus, declares that, in certain circum- 
stances, the use of equivocal forms of speech is permissible, and supports 
his contention by reference to Genesis, xx, 2. 

In spite of all these arguments, numerous instances of equivocal 
speech and mental reservation, which are held by the earlier Jesuit casu- 
ists to be excusable, appear nevertheless to be essentially of a very doubt- 
ful nature. It is possible to arrive at a clearer understanding of this 
original method of permitted deception only if we bear in mind the ex- 
ceptional severity with which the Christian moral laws condemn lying 
as the most heinous of all sins. 

According to the precepts of the Catholic Church, the confessor had 
always to impute a mortal sin to a penitent who confessed to a lie, and 
the many grounds for remission which were available to the confessor in 
the case of other sins could not be applied in the case of this particular 
sin. The categorical nature of this prohibition of lying had always, 
however, stood in sharp contradiction to the realities of life, since, time 
and again, it seemed practically an impossibility to speak the absolute 
truth at all times and in all circumstances. Recognizing the existence of 
this conflict between religious law and the practical things of human ex- 
istence, the Jesuits favoured those interpretations of the law which ap- 
peared to offer the only means in many cases of absolving the penitent 
instead of severely condemning him. 

Aristotle, the Progenitor of Jesuit Moral Philosophy 

In the fourth of Pascal's Provincial Letters, there is an imaginary 
conversation between the author and his Jesuit authority, in which the 


reprehensible moral principles propounded by the casuist Baunius are 
discussed. Pressed hard by the arguments adduced by Pascal, the Jesuit 
is compelled to concede point after point until, after reflecting for a 
while, he suddenly recovers and triumphantly continues : "See, here are 
the weapons with which I shall bring you low. . . . Just read the pas- 
sage quoted by Baunius from Aristotle, and you will have to admit 
either that the works of this great philosopher should be burned or that 
our doctrine is the true doctrine." 

Pascal's fictive Jesuit had every reason to fall back on Aristotle, for, in 
point of fact, throughout the whole of the Jesuit moral theology there 
is scarcely a view which is not adumbrated in the Nicomachean Ethics 
of the Stagirite. 

Just as Ignatius taught that man can attain perfection by his own will 
and his own powers, so too the Greek philosopher had long before as- 
serted that man can attain to happiness only through his own efforts : 
while the extent to which virtue may be developed depends on a person's 
natural qualities, both judgment and conscious effort are also necessary. 
It is true that one person's natural qualities may not be so good as an- 
other's, but, in the long run, everybody can develop the necessary quali- 
ties predisposing to virtue if only he wishes to do so. 

Even the conclusion which the Jesuits draw from this supremacy of 
the will, that the rightful or wrongful character of human actions de- 
pends upon the direction of the will, is also to be found in the Nico- 
macliean Ethics. 

According to Aristotle's moral doctrines, an act is right or wrong only 
if it is performed voluntarily ; an act which is not performed voluntarily 
can be neither good nor bad. A righteous person is one who intentionally 
and deliberately practises right actions ; the essential thing is that the 
actions shall be voluntary. 

Aristotle also discusses the question of the restriction of free will, 
and, therefore, of the limitation of responsibility, owing to external cir- 
cumstances and influences, such as, for example, fear: "If an action is 
performed out of fear of greater evils, the question is open to discussion 
whether such an action is involuntary or voluntary." Similarly, he deals 
with the difficulties associated with the problem of the relationship be- 
tween the end and the means, and expressly lays down to what extent im- 
portance should be attached to the intention when judging an action. The 
source of action is the intention ; the source of the intention is the will or 
the purpose. Accordingly, therefore, intention pr'esupposes the capacity 
to think and the power to reason "as permanent moral attributes." 


Of "ingenuity," Aristotle gives, in his Nicomachean Ethics, a defini- 
tion which immediately calls to mind the principle that the end justifies 
the means : ingenuity, he says towards the end of the sixth book, is the 
ability to devise and apply the appropriate means towards a given end. 
"If, therefore, the aim be good, the ingenuity is praiseworthy, but, if it 
be bad, it becomes craft." 

Similarly, all the basic principles of the entire Jesuit moral philosophy 
can be traced back to the Nicomachean Ethics. It was, therefore, by no 
means the work of chance that, from the moment they ceased to be a 
band of religious zealots and applied themselves to scientific thinking, 
the Jesuits evolved an intellectual system based on Aristotle's theories. 

The Jesuits have, from the outset, striven by all available means to 
secure a predominant influence for Aristotle's teachings in the moral 
philosophy of their age. In the first rules which the order laid down for 
the training in their schools, it was provided that philosophy and physical 
science were to be taught "not only in accordance with truth, but also in 
accordance with the teachings and the spirit of Aristotle." When, then, 
the Ratio Studiorum, or detailed regulations governing instruction in 
all Jesuit schools and colleges, was compiled, the authors of this work 
expressly emphasized that the instructions were "never to deviate from 
Aristotle in matters of any importance." 

These regulations were drawn up precisely at a time when it might 
have seemed that the authority of Aristotle had come to an end : in the 
newly arisen experimental sciences, especially mechanics, astronomy and 
medicine, quite new discoveries had, in fact, been made, and one after 
another of Aristotle's propositions had been found to be false. Thus, at 
the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Peripatetic sys- 
tem, which, during the whole of the scholastic Middle Ages, had main- 
tained its eminence, was driven from the circle of the sciences. Even the 
views of the Stagirite on ethics and logic were no longer unopposed, 
for the newly rediscovered Platonism had entered the field against them. 

From all sides the attack on the Aristotelean school of thought was 
made, and, with the new scholars of the Renaissance, it became a point 
of honour to disparage Aristotle in favour of Plato. The Jesuits alone, 
in spite of all the newer conceptions, remained faithful to the author of 
the Nicomachean Ethics, and held fast to the view that had been uni- 
versally accepted in the Middle Ages, that this Greek philosopher, whom 
Dante referred to as "il maestro di color chi sanno/' was something akin 
to a prophet whose teachings were second only in dogmatic value to the 
revealed doctrines of the Christian faith. 






















This stubborn adherence to a system already, in appearance, obsolete, 
regardless of the recent scientific discoveries of the Cartesian criticism, 
as well as of the enthusiasm for Plato's philosophy of the courts and 
salons of the Renaissance period, may at first seem all the more remark- 
able as the Jesuits had always hitherto striven "to be all things to all 
men" and to keep pace with the progress of the world as far as was at all 
possible. This apparent obtuseness is seen, on closer examination, to have 
its origin in a correct instinctive feeling that Aristotle's system, in face 
of all the assaults made on it by the new principles of astronomy, me- 
chanics, physics, medicine and philosophy, possessed an unassailable 
quality: that convincing formal logic, armed with which the opinions 
of the Jesuits might successfully resist the centuries. 

For the arguments of the Stagirite continued to exercise an unfailing 
influence on men. By his method of strict deduction, things which were 
obscure, incapable of explanation or even erroneous could be made as 
clear as truth itself. Starting from a well-established first principle, one 
proceeded from stage to stage, in accordance with all the rules of the 
syllogism, until the required conclusion was reached. Such a chain of 
uninterrupted demonstration was always irresistible, and was effective 
in convincing the intellect, even if sentiment was not disposed to accept 
the ultimate conclusion. 

In the case of Ignatius, the belief that it was possible to attain perfec- 
tion by means of the human will certainly sprang from his personal ex- 
periences. While on his sick-bed in Loyola, he told himself that he could, 
of his own free will, decide for the kingdom of heaven, and this arbi- 
trary decision governed his whole subsequent career. Nevertheless, this 
theory of the freedom of the will advanced by the Spanish knight could 
never have gained such general acceptance without the support afforded 
it by the logical deductions of Aristotle. It was only through the system 
of the Stagirite that the Jesuit doctrine of the freedom of the will was 
able to acquire its terminology, its lucidly arranged structure, and the 
seductive skill of argument; Aristotle furnished the Jesuits with 
the weapons which enabled them *to emerge with honour from the 
bitterest struggles with theologians and philosophers. And it cannot be 
denied that the Society of Jesus, while adhering to the Peripatetic sys- 
tem, has maintained itself successfully for centuries. The stanchness 
with which the order has clung to Aristotle's philosophy has ensured the 
continued existence of its system of instruction in the midst of the most 
stormy upheavals of thought. 

"Does that satisfy you?" triumphantly asks the Jesuit in the Pro- 


vincial Letters, after he has demonstrated that the Jesuit doctrine of the 
direction of the intention found support in Aristotle; and Pascal is 
forced to admit somewhat ruefully : "It certainly seems as if Aristotle is 
of Baunius's opinion, but it surprises me very much. ... Is it possible 
that Aristotle could have spoken thus? He is generally held to be very 
wise and learned !" 

Somewhat perplexed, Pascal hastens to his Jansenist friend, and in- 
quires how it came about that Aristotle should have propounded such 
questionable maxims. After searching for a while, the Jansenist finds 
another passage in Aristotle which appears to refute the arguments of 
the Jesuits, and points with childish delight to a passage in the third book 
of the Nicomachean Ethics, which states : "Not every evil person knows 
what he ought to do or from what he ought to abstain, and it is through 
such lack of knowledge that men become unjust and depraved. Ignorance 
in the choice between good and evil has not for effect that an act be- 
comes involuntary, but only that it is bad." 

To Pascal, a quotation from Aristotle gainsaying the Jesuits appeared 
to settle the matter once and for all in the sense of his convictions, and 
at the time of the Jansenist dispute, when proof and refutation were 
sought in a series of quotations from the "authorities," this might well 
have appeared to constitute a satisfactory triumph over the Jesuit moral 

Whoever, though, today studies closely the Nicomachean Ethics as a 
comprehensive whole, will experience some difficulty in resisting the 
conclusion that the Jesuit in the Provincial Letters was more justified 
in his argument than the Jansenist, and that the somewhat free interpre- 
tation by the Jesuits of Aristotle's theory of the freedom of the will 
approached more closely to what was actually in the mind of the Greek 
thinker than that of the rigorists. 

The thinker of Stagira expressly broke away from the rigid doctrine 
of Plato, under which everything ethical was of divine origin, and which 
demanded a ceaseless striving on the part of man after an unattainable 
ideal lying outside human existence. Out of this Platonic doctrine of an 
ideal goal, for ever unrealizable, Aristotle had evolved a theory of virtue 
attainable in man's earthly life. 

Plato had seen the ultimate meaning of morality as an imperative, in 
the "Idea of the Good," in which alone lay the truth, and which, there- 
fore, constituted the sole aim of moral endeavour. He taught men "to 
love truth" and to relate all their conduct to it, and not to relate truth 
to the final aim of their own narrow purposes. It is precisely on this 


point, however, that Aristotle took leave of his master, and in the first 
book of his Nicomachean Ethics strongly opposed this Platonic notion 
of an "Idea of Good' which could never be realized. For, so runs a cele- 
brated passage of his, "if both are my friends, Plato and truth, then it 
is my bounden duty to put truth first/' Aristotle interprets "the uniform 
and universal conception of the Good" as nothing more than "that which 
may be accomplished or attained by man. ..." It certainly sounds 
"very plausible that the Idea establishes the standard by which man may 
recognize the good wherever he meets with it," but, unfortunately, this 
does not find "confirmation in the sciences (namely, the practical sci- 
ences). ... Of what use, in fact, is the knowledge of the Idea of 
Good to the weaver or carpenter in his handiwork, or how will he who 
has contemplated it become, therefore, a more skilful physician or offi- 
cer? The physician does not inquire after health in general, but after 
that of man, or rather that of the individual, for he is concerned with 
the cure of the individual/' 

In clear words, any transcendentalism in the aims of morality is here 
denied, and, altogether in the Aristotelean sense, morality for the Jesuits 
means no "ideal aim lying outside of existence," but the regulation and 
ordering of "the virtue attainable by man/' 

The Jesuit moral philosophy likewise lays down no generally applica- 
ble ethical principles ; it rather decomposes morality into as many indi- 
vidual "cases of conscience" as possible, into "aporias," in Aristotle's 
sense, which are adapted to the requirements of practical life. It does not 
stipulate anything extra-human, any abstract, ideal requirement, for it 
is less concerned with the objective "Idea of Good" than with the 
individual man; in Aristotle's sense, it is a real "science of healing, 
which is not concerned with health in general, but with the care of the 

For this reason, in Jesuit moral philosophy, as in Aristotle's, there 
can be no clinging to the severity of an ideal demand, and the latter must 
yield to a far-reaching insight into the peculiarities of man. It follows, 
therefore, that the measure of morality is not the "demand" but "at- 
tainability." Not divine norms but the human footrule is the measure; 
not divine commands but the paragraphs of a law govern actions and 

"In order to determine what is a reasonable demand on the individual 
person in concrete circumstances," writes Aristotle in the Nicomachean 
Ethics, "there is no objective measure, equal for all, but this measure 
is the nature of the person himself according to his individual needs." 


Accordingly, Aristotle defines the idea of morality as the maintenance of 
the "golden mean," in all things, as determined by a "healthy intelli- 

"Virtue is a habit, accompanied with deliberate preference, in the 
relative mean, defined by reason and as the prudent man would define 
it. It is a mean state between two vices, one in excess, the other in defect ; 
and it is so, moreover, because of the vices, one falls short of, and the 
other exceeds what is right, both in passions and actions, whilst virtue 
discovers the mean and chooses it." 

Two thousand years later, Ignatius endeavoured, with almost identi- 
cal words, to explain in one of his letters his conception of that which 
"found favour in the sight of God." After declaring that anything in 
excess could neither please God nor be lasting, he continues: "If thou 
wouldst lead an ordered life, then must thou keep to the mean between 
two extremes, so that thou mayst not attempt presumptuously that which 
is beyond thy powers. God does not demand of thee the destruction of 
the body, but victory over sin ; He asks nothing impossible, but only that 
which promotes salvation. He dispenses good counsel, and provides for 
the needs of life to the end that thou mayst employ thy body for the 
betterment of the soul, but requires that due moderation shall be ex- 
ercised in all things." 

According to Cathrein's moral philosophy, it is "an excessive and al- 
together impossible demand on weak humanity" to require the exercise 
of all the virtues prescribed by the natural moral code. Aristotle, how- 
ever, who, long before, had argued against the "excessive" demands of 
Platonic morality, and had, in his own moral doctrines, adopted the "at- 
tainable mean" as the standard of virtue towards which man should 
aspire, supplied his Jesuit posterity also with the means by which it was 
possible for them to make due allowances for human weakness and to 
provide for the exercise of a general tolerance. 

Thus, the Jesuit moral philosophy, that "perverted doctrine of Satan," 
which for centuries has been subjected to the most violent attacks by 
infuriated but somewhat superficial opponents, had, in reality, for its 
spiritual founder no less a personage than the celebrated Greek sage who, 
even today, is held in great honour. To attack Jesuitism signifies, there- 
fore, an attack on those ancient doctrines which have influenced our 
intellectual thought for thousands of years. If fatal defects show them- 
selves in the Jesuit philosophy, then it must be stated that tha responsi- 
bility for these faults lies with no other than the great philosopher of 
Stagira whom they chose as their master. 


The Atomization of Morality 

In limiting himself to specifying by name the various human virtues, 
instead of setting up ideal moral demands, Aristotle had necessarily to 
substitute for the unified ethical Idea a series of prescriptions, laws and 
rules of conduct. The conception of the moral Idea, he considered, might 
perhaps have the merit "of serving as a spur and an incentive to the 
young of noble nature," yet such a conception was "not fitted to lead 
the mass to a high moral development." Accordingly, it was necessary to 
ensure that "the life and general conduct of the citizens should proceed 
in an ordered manner" by the laying down of fixed and intelligible laws 
which could be fulfilled. He therefore accomplished the transfer from 
the transcendental ethics of Plato to a schematic code of "moral laws." 

For Plato it is an ethically regulative imperative that alone gives 
moral law, an imperative that by no means represents a rigid, absolute 
datum, but rather an ever-living and eternal task, an eternal aim. Plato's 
Idea of the Good is, therefore, "difficult to comprehend," and is never 
more than a "paradigm" which we must regard in the same way "as the 
mathematicians regard their proofs"; the mathematician does not treat 
of the figures which he draws, but of the purely mathematical images 
themselves, to which the figures drawn stand in a paradigmatical rela- 

Aristotle, on the other hand, considers that a distinction should be 
made between the manner in which a geometrician and a carpenter draw 
a straight line. The former is concerned with truth itself, while the latter 
is only concerned with the nature of a straight line in so far as may be 
necessary for the purposes of his practical work. Aristotle, as Werner 
Jaeger pointed out, treated of the science of political ethics "from the 
point of view of the carpenter and not from that of the geometrician." 
For Plato's "doctrine of ideas" he substitutes a descriptive account of 
all possible forms of the virtuous and the good, and, in this sense, the 
Nicomachean Ethics represents the earliest comprehensive and detailed 
exposition of moral conduct in everyday life. And hence sprang that 
form of literature which in much later times was to become known as 
"moral casuistry." 

This method of describing the various virtues and vices individually 
was continued by the Stoics. Originally, the Stoics had held closely to 
the conception of the unity of ideal virtue, and had taught that moral 
judgment was absolute and could take no account of practical considera- 
tions. An action must be either moral or immoral ; between good and 


bad there could be no intermediate stages. A virtuous person must be 
wholly virtuous, and he who fails of it must be entirely void of it : "He 
who is a yard under water is drowned just as effectually as he who is 
five hundred fathoms down." 

Later, however, the Stoa was forced to take account of the fact that 
these rigid exhortations to virtue were in no wise compatible with the 
realities of life, and eventually it could not resist a certain adaptation to 
the customary notions of good and evil. Its teachers were forced to make 
material concessions to the practical considerations influencing man's 
actions, and in so doing evolved a graduated moral code. Cicero himself 
had expressly declared that the "sages" of the Stoic philosophy did not 
exist in reality, and that their rigid moral code could not be applied in 
daily life. 

Seneca, too, expressed the same view, that the adaptation of moral 
laws to the realities of life was more important than the setting up of 
abstract ideals of virtue; that which does not affect man's actual moral 
state could serve no useful purpose from a moral point of view. Seneca, 
therefore, considered that, in addition to the laying down of general 
principles, exhaustive inquiries into conduct in specific cases were also 
necessary, and himself devoted a large part of his writings to such con- 

In this way, the doctrine of the Stoa on the duties of man, originally 
so rigorous, turned into a systematic casuistry of practical conduct, that 
is, into a literature that stood in sharp contradiction to the actual convic- 
tions of this school. 

A similar lapse from the unity of the ethical imperative into a multi- 
plicity of moral rules also took place in Judaism ; it is the self-same spirit- 
ual tragedy which apparently plays itself out whenever humanity strives 
to force within the narrow limits of practical utility the limitless per- 
spectives opened up by a doctrine of abstract morality. 

The prophets, the classical representatives of Jewish antiquity, had, 
it is true, expressly emphasized that the moral act alone led to God, and 
thus had shown themselves to be clearly opposed to the mystical belief 
in the possibility of salvation through indulgence in profound medita- 
tion. The way to God, they taught, lies not in abandonment to spiritual 
contemplation, nor through faith, but solely and simply through hu- 
manly moral conduct. Nevertheless, as Auerbach shows in his beautiful 
work, Die Prophetie, in classical Judaism men's actions appear to be 
constantly referred to an infinite end, determined by an ideal imperative 
and never confined within humanly finite limits. 


Later Judaism shows clearly a departure from this idealistic concep- 
tion, a replacement of the Idea by "attainable virtues," by precepts which 
should and can be followed in this life ; and nowhere else, perhaps, has 
the attempt been made in so crude a fashion to break up an ethic into in- 
numerable single precepts as in the later Jewish moral code. 

In Christendom, too, a similar turning to casuistry is quite early evi- 
dent. Thus Tertullian deals exhaustively with the question of the pagan 
ceremonies in which the Christian soldier in the Roman military service 
may participate without offending against his faith. Subsequently, many 
of the Church fathers, in particular Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory of 
Nyssa and Ambrose, endeavoured to discriminate between inadmissible 
actions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, acts dictated by and con- 
sonant with the Faith. 

The great scholastics, too, included in their "Summae" collections of 
cases of conscience as examples for their general moral doctrines. The 
Summa de poenitentia et matrimonio, which the Dominican monk, Ray- 
mund de Pennaforte, wrote towards the middle of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, represents the first systematically arranged work on moral casu- 
istry ; it sets out in order and judges all the various sins of matrimonial 
life. The object of this work, Pennaforte stated, was to assist father- 
confessors in judging the offences of their penitents, and to enable them, 
in the confessional, to determine difficult and complicated cases. 

That, in the later Middle Ages, moral casuistry should have followed 
such a line of development, is closely attributable to the increasing sig- 
nificance of confession. The fourth Lateran Council, in the year 1215, 
definitely laid down that every believer must go to confession at least 
once a year, and the effect of this was that the father-confessor, from an 
occasional counsellor, became a regular spiritual and moral judge. 

As early as the fourteenth century, therefore, numerous comprehen- 
sive and exhaustive works on moral theology had appeared : the Pupilla 
oculi of the chancellor, Juan de Burgo, examines, in ten volumes, the 
application of the divine laws, the sacrament, and all other Christian 
moral prescriptions ; in the Summa Silvcstrina of the Dominican monk, 
Sylvester de Priero, 715 cases drawn from theological practice are dealt 
with and decided. In addition, there were numerous smaller manuals 
for father-confessors, such as the Confessionale of the Franciscan 
monk, Bartolomeo de Chaymin, and the Summula confessomm of St. 

Thus there already existed a wealth of casuistic literature when the 
Jesuit order was founded, and the writers of the Society of Jesus were 


able to link up with a long-established tradition in applying themselves 
to this branch of theological literature. They were, however, far from 
being alone in concerning themselves with moral casuistry ; at the same 
time, secular priests and monks of all orders and even the Protestant 
clergy were producing studies on "cases of conscience." Among the 
Protestant authors may perhaps be mentioned the Cambridge Univer- 
sity professor, William Perkins, who wrote a work entitled Decisions 
of Cases of Conscience. 

It is to the Jesuits, however, that the casuistic method owes its partic- 
ular significance and its highest development. 

In this Catholic "Counter-Reformation," the Jesuits were certainly 
the most able fighters. They strove everywhere, as missionaries in the 
most remote lands and as upholders of the faith in Protestant areas, 
to influence the masses in the direction of the Catholic church through 
the medium of confession, and it is therefore only natural that they 
should have developed moral casuistry with exceptional thoroughness. 

Soon there was no other religious fraternity which could show so 
many authors on the subject of morality as the Jesuit order, and the 
most celebrated theologians of the Society of Jesus penned great works 
on moral casuistry. 

That the Jesuit moral theology was able to take a really predominat- 
ing position in the Catholic Church is, however, primarily due to the 
casuist Alfonso dei Liguori, who was not himself a member of the 
Society of Jesus, but became the founder of the Redemptorist order. 
Liguori's Moral Theology is a work incorporating almost all the earlier 
conceptions in moral theology and, of the 815 authors whom Liguori 
uses as his authorities, the Jesuits, in especial, provided the principles 
he adopted. The popes have particularly approved of and recommended 
his work, and ultimately gave it their full sanction by canonizing the 
author. Since then, the moral views of the Jesuits, through Liguori, have 
been spread in every place where Catholic priests minister to spiritual 
needs and exercise the office of confessor. 

Problems of Confessional Practice 

According as the hearing of confessions increased in extent, so did 
it become more and more difficult for the priest, whose duty it was "to 
bind and to loose/' to form a right and just decision on the scruples of 
conscience put to him. As the conception of "attainable virtues" had by 
this time replaced that of an unattainable ideal, of a general moral im- 


perative, the rules and prescriptions in which these virtues were formu- 
lated were more and more adapted to what was possible and attainable. 
At the same time, every individual case demanded particular treatment, 
an extremely specialized application of the moral principles. 

In Aristotle's time, it might well have appeared to be a simple matter 
to arrange in specific categories the world with all its circumstances and 
man with all his virtues and vices. In the days when the Master of Sta- 
gira had, by his descriptive enumeration of good and bad qualities, 
provided the first example of a systematic moral casuistry, the "world" 
was not much greater, in comparison with the known world of today, 
than a small province. To Aristotle, culture was the totality of those 
easily surveyable conditions which ruled beneath the clear Hellenic sky ; 
his interest was, in fact, even within this narrow field, confined to the 
still narrower circle of Greek aristocrats and scholars to which he him- 
self belonged. To him, this handful of select men represented "human- 
ity" purely and simply; what went on below this stratum among the 
slaves, the peasants and the craftsmen, did not fall within the scope of 
discussions on morality. 

And how limited was the knowledge possessed at that time! The 
primitive conception, accepted without question, held man to be con- 
stituted of a few clearly comprehensible components, of body, of three 
souls : vegetative, animal and rational, of mind, will, desire, virtue and 
vice ; a correct mixture of these components appeared to ensure complete 
harmony and therewith the felicity of the sage, and accordingly Aris- 
totle drew the conclusion that evil arises only from a disturbance of this 
equilibrium. An exact knowledge and description of these components 
is sufficient, he considered, to obtain forthwith an accurate conception 
of all disturbances of the moral order. 

On the basis of the observations which he had been able to make in 
his native country, in his associations with his aristocratic friends and 
enemies, Aristotle wrote his Nicomachean Ethics, in which he described 
in sequence all vices and virtues, voluntary and involuntary actions, 
within his knowledge, which were either wise or foolish, noble or base, 
courageous or cowardly. After having completed this comprehensive 
classification of humanity, he could be content in the belief that there 
was really nothing more to be said, and that the means had been found 
for enabling a just judgment to be pronounced on men and their conduct. 

Many centuries after Aristotle, the Jesuits, likewise, made a similar 
attempt to classify comprehensively every known action and delin- 
quency, and to this task they devoted much honest endeavour and the 


utmost diligence. They examined systematically every "particular case," 
so that it might be possible to characterize human conduct at all times 
as praiseworthy or blameworthy, having regard to the circumstances. 

In the meantime, however, two thousand years had gone by, and in 
this space of time humanity had, like the world around it, suffered a 
fundamental change. The narrow Greek skies which had arched over 
Stagira had expanded to a limitless firmament, and on the enormous 
expanse of the earth, which was spanned over by these skies, most ex- 
ceptional and inexplicable things were happening. With the passing of 
a long epoch of human history, all earthly relationships had become in- 
finitely involved; multiplied a thousandfold were the ideas which 
now influenced man, and many and varied were his aims, interests and 

The passions, the noble and the base sentiments, were no longer to be 
classed in a few hard-and-fast categories; on the contrary, all man's 
various perceptions appeared rather to merge rainbow-like one into the 
other, so that it was no longer possible to draw any clear dividing line 
between good and evil, wisdom and unwisdom, courage and cowardice. 
Where Aristotle had postulated three or four "dianoetic" and eleven 
"ethical" virtues, Chrysippus and his successors had arrived at a whole 
"swarm of virtues" ; the number of good and bad qualities had mounted 
into the immeasurable, and the niceties and subtleties of distinction were 
scarcely comprehensible. 

Furthermore, the simplicity of thought with which man had been 
wont to record and schematize his perceptions had ceased to be so simple 
as in the days of the Greek thinker; Christianity had replaced the simple 
intelligible criteria by a highly technical and complicated system of 
morality. So long as the judgment of good and evil had remained within 
the powers of the understanding, it had been possible to discriminate 
between two main categories, the virtues and the vices. Virtue was 
everything of which a healthy mind approved, and vice, anything that 
was inconsistent with all due reason. 

Under the Christian world of later times, this simple judgment of 
reason was, however, transformed into a much more complicated proc- 
ess of thought. Good and evil were no longer distinguishable with their 
original clearness, but were determined in accordance with a whole scale 
of moral evaluations, with "sanctity" at one end of the scale and "mortal 
sin" at the other. In addition to the commands of "natural laws" which 
had prevailed from the earliest times, and with which Aristotle was fully 
acquainted, there now appeared commands and prohibitions which were 


regarded as revealed by God, and which went far beyond the compre- 
hension of the reasoning powers. 

It had not, indeed, always been an easy matter for the later Greek 
philosophers to determine what was consistent with reason and therefore 
good, and they had themselves compiled manuals of casuistry ; but now 
any moral judgment had become a thousand times more thorny, since 
the rule of conduct was no longer formed by mere reason alone, but 
also by the revealed law of the Faith. 

According to Catholic theology, there were two forms of revelation, 
one "natural" and the other "supernatural," and, corresponding to 
these, there were two forms of laws, a "natural" moral law and a "posi- 
tive" law. The natural moral law was defined as "the light of reason by 
nature existing within man," which enabled him to determine what he 
should do and what he should avoid. 

Even under this "natural law," several forms of ordinance were 
distinguished: prescriptions of a general nature and dealing with no 
particular object, and those rules of moral conduct which automati- 
cally arose out of the first group when the general prescriptions were 
applied to the relationship of man to God, to his fellow-men and to 
himself. A third type consisted of those further rules which necessarily 
follow "as an obvious logical consequence" from the first two types. 

As may be imagined, the "natural law" was complicated enough; but 
the difficulties increased considerably when the "positive law" was ex- 
amined more closely. This could be either divine or human, according 
to whether it was decreed directly by God or by a human authority by 
virtue of divine mandate. This positive law, as the final authority, deter- 
mined numerous questions which were not fully and unequivocally 
settled by natural law. Natural law, in many points, contained only gen- 
eral principles, the application of which to concrete cases was governed 
by the positive laws. 

In accordance with these two main categories of moral laws, the 
theologians distinguished duties as being "natural" and "positive." In 
addition, further distinctions were made between "affirmative" and 
"negative" obligations, between duties towards God, towards one's 
neighbour and towards oneself. 

The conscience itself, even, no longer appeared as an entity, but was 
analysed into categories. The "anterior conscience" had for its object 
future actions and the "posterior" conscience, those already accom- 
plished ; the former was also described as "guiding" or "binding," and 
the latter as "judging" or "denouncing." 


How often did it happen in practical life that commands and prescrip- 
tions conflicted one with another, and how difficult a matter it then be- 
came to decide which rule was to take precedence! Theologians may, 
indeed, have held the view that such a conflict of duties existed only in 
outward seeming, since every duty eventually originated from the will of 
God and God could not stand in contradiction with Himself ; but for the 
poor mortal it was often a difficult enough matter to find the way out of 
these difficulties, even if they were only apparent. 

As if all these difficulties confronting the father-confessor in forming 
a right judgment of human actions were not sufficient of themselves, 
he had always to bear in mind that human sins, according to the faith 
of the Church, were to be classified in varying degrees of seriousness. 
It was the firm conviction of all Catholics that every mistake made by the 
father-confessor in judging the sins committed by his penitents must 
have the most dire consequences; upon the absolution granted by the 
priest depended the eternal salvation of the person making confession. 
Whereas the venial offence was expunged by an earthly punishment of 
limited duration or in purgatory, the punishment awaiting the sinner 
who had gravely offended against God was eternal damnation, unless 
the Church, with its power to bind or to loose, came to his aid. 

In the profusion and fullness of the natural and positive laws, with 
their studied arrangement in numerous sub-sections, it was, indeed, laid 
down how the Christian might attain true perfection, and what his 
duties towards God and the world were. Upon the priests, however, who 
sat in the confessional and whose function it was to adjudicate on the 
sins of weak, erring mortals, devolved the difficult task of applying these 
standards to the many weaknesses and imperfections of man as he really 
is. The problem facing them was to deduce from the general law the 
special applications to individual cases, and this further involved the 
reconciliation of God's requirements of man with the manifold difficul- 
ties and complications of practical life. 

For of what avail was it to the father-confessors to be thoroughly con- 
versant with the laws and to know what was prescribed, permitted or for- 
bidden, if penitents came to them who felt and thought quite differently, 
who lived under the most various conditions, and were influenced by 
an infinite variety of personal factors, temptations, desires and passions, 
and were entangled in pursuits, cares and labours of every nature ? 

All the inexhaustible types of living life pressed to the priest in the 
confessional, compelling him to pronounce judgment on murder, theft, 
lying, deception, unchastity and fraud, as well as on surgical operations, 


the bottle-feeding of children, the rights and duties of officials, the most 
intimate details of sexual life, buying and selling prices, the grade of 
paper used for printing books, the degree of decolletage that might be 
permitted in a young girl's dance frock, whether it was wrong for an 
heir to rejoice over his rich uncle's death, and how far it was sinful for 
a churchman to read an unchaste book. 

The cases in which the father-confessor was called upon to adjudicate 
were thus in themselves numerous and complicated ; but his difficulties 
became a thousandfold greater when the attempt was made to examine 
more closely into the particular circumstances of the sin committed. Im- 
mediately were revealed within the individual categories of offences a 
thousand new variations, distinguished one from the other by the utmost 
diversity of motives and causes. Yet a proper judgment could be pro- 
nounced only after all these special circumstances, essentially different 
in, and characteristic of, the individual case, were in fact taken duly and 
conscientiously into account. 

Those priests who accepted the philosophy of the old heathen of Sta- 
gira, and, like him, saw in morality the adaptation of the "Idea" to the 
"particular case," thus found themselves in actual practice faced with 
an exceptionally difficult task. For whoever lent his ear to the many 
voices of men and women, old and young, princes and beggars, pouring 
out their confessions, learnt so much of the realities and facts of life 
that he was eventually constrained to recognize that, although the 
moral law was equally binding on all, yet it was often necessary for its 
field of application to be modified, restricted or extended, if right was to 
remain right and not to become a frightful hardship. 

The Jesuit moral casuists, therefore, came to the assistance of the 
father-confessors by placing at their disposal "manuals" as works of 
reference, comprehensive folios in which learned and experienced men 
had set down systematically all possible "cases of conscience," had ar- 
ranged them according to their nature, and had decided upon them, to 
the best of their knowledge, in accordance with the divine laws. 

The Judge in the Confessional 

Many of these text-books of morals occupy as many as ten folio vol- 
umes, and are arranged in hundreds of paragraphs with the various 
sections numbered in Roman and innumerable sub-sections numbered 
in Arabic figures. All the problems and events of life, from the harmless 
dance of youth to the crime of murder, were intended to be included 


within them and examined from the moral standpoint. Their wide ex- 
perience gained in the confessional made the priests acquainted with very 
many "cases of conscience" which arose in actual practice, and they 
were therefore able to supplement this collection of empirically ^as- 
sembled material with combinations of their own devising. All the 
innumerable casus conscientiae were handled in full detail with bureau- 
cratic orderliness and system, so that the father-confessor could look up, 
as the occasion required, the correct judgment to be pronounced on the 
offences of his penitents. 

The summary terms of the fifth vcommandment of the Decalogue, 
for example, were, as became immediately apparent on closer examina- 
tion, by no means adequate to meet the case of the killing of a man. Ac- 
cording to the special circumstances of the particular case, the moral 
theologians distinguished between "permissible," "conditionally permis- 
sible" and "prohibited" killings; to which of these three categories the 
case under consideration belonged was a matter which could be deter- 
mined only after all motives and other circumstances had been ex- 

Account was to be taken of the fact that it often happened that a man 
was compelled to defend his own skin and to kill his assailant to save 
his own life. This case, simple enough in itself, immediately became 
complicated by other eventualities: what was the position when, in 
self-defence, a son killed his father, a monk his abbot, or a citizen his 
sovereign? Moreover, was a wife allowed to kill her husband who was 
threatening her life? Was it permissible to do away with a false witness 
in order to save oneself from being wrongfully condemned to death? 
Might a nobleman who had received a box on the ear, and was accordingly 
discredited in the sight of his compeers, slay the person who thus insulted 
him? Was a soldier entitled in war-time to kill innocent people, if 
ordered to do so by his superior officers ? Might a military leader burn 
down a tower in which were non-combatants as well as hostile troops ? 
All these questions were carefully examined in the various Jesuit works 
on moral casuistry and, according to the particular circumstances of the 
case, answered with a definite affirmative, a conditional affirmative or, 
either definitely or conditionally, in the negative. 

Theft was dealt with in the same manner : external or inherent cir- 
cumstances such as poverty, hunger, error or force majewre could 
similarly influence to a considerable degree the moral evaluation of the 
offence. Theft was regarded differently according to whether the case 
was one of a poor person stealing from a rich person, a poor person from 


another poor person, a rich person from a rich person, a rich person from 
a poor person, a wife from her husband, a servant from his master, or 
an official from his superior. 

In the first place, it was necessary to take into account the various 
circumstances constituting "extreme necessity," by reason of which a 
theft could be excused, and the enumeration of which occupied a num- 
ber of paragraphs ; in addition, the circumstances constituting "almost 
extreme necessity" in all their possible combinations had to be examined, 
as, for instance, when a person had committed a theft in order to escape 
lifelong imprisonment or being condemned to the gallows. Furthermore, 
the precise amount over and above which it could be asserted that the 
sin of theft began had to be stated, and this was only possible in relation 
to the material circumstances of the thief and the victim. How was a 
theft by a son from his father to be regarded? The case might be one of 
a son's stealing twenty gold pieces from a father who earned fifteen 
hundred gold pieces; the case was different if the income of the father 
were greater and the amount stolen by the son were less. Thus, the single 
case of "The son steals from his father" gave rise to a series of vari- 
ants, which had to be dealt with on scientific lines in the appropriate 
paragraphs, sections and sub-sections until all possible combinations of 
the varying amount stolen and the varying amount of the income were 

Special complications also arose when considering the "obligation to 
make restitution" in accordance with which the father-confessor re- 
quires the thief to make compensation for the wrong he has done. The 
Jesuit casuists, therefore, indicated the precise cases in which this obli- 
gation should be enforced unconditionally, when it may be relaxed or 
when it may be entirely waived. For instance, the obligation may be 
waived "if restitution could not be made without serious prejudice to 
the person on whom the obligation falls, as, for example, if, by making 
restitution, he would be unable to maintain himself in his station, or 
would himself be reduced to penury. . . . When, therefore, a noble- 
man would be unable to make restitution without depriving himself of 
his servants, his horses, or his estate, or a prominent citizen would be 
thereby compelled to carry on an unaccustomed trade, or a workman 
would be forced to sell his tools, restitution may in these cases be 
deferred. . . ." 

How difficult must it have been for the spiritual pastor to approve or 
to condemn certain commercial practices ! Valuable help was to be de- 
rived in these cases from the manuals of casuistry, for they laid down 


that a merchant who quoted an excessively high price with the inten- 
tion of selling the particular commodity at that price was guilty of a 
grave sin; it was a different matter, however, if the merchant merely 
quoted the high price in order to induce the buyer to make an offer, and 
thus, after some bargaining, to arrive at the suitable price. 

These reference books also determine the question whether European 
merchants commit a sin by selling in India cheap knives and mirrors at 
relatively high prices. Through his manuals of casuistry the father- 
confessor was taught that the usual price of a commodity is determined 
by its value to the buyer ; since, then, mirrors and knives are scarce in 
India, there could be no wrong done if merchants sold such objects at 
high prices there. 

The works of Lessius and Escobar also deal with the obligations of a 
bankrupt merchant, and allow him to reserve for himself so much of 
his material effects as may be necessary to enable him to maintain a 
reasonable existence ; the fact that his debts may have been unjustly con- 
tracted does not affect the case at all. Whoever wrongs his fellow-man 
owes him satisfaction, and the father-confessor must exhort the of- 
fender to make amends. What, however, is the position when the victim 
and the offender belong to widely different social classes ? Is it sufficient 
if the person of higher social position greets the inferior whom he has 
wronged, or must he formally ask his pardon? Or, if the two persons 
are of equal standing, is it sufficient to pay a personal visit to the 
wronged person? What is to be the attitude of a person towards his 
superior to whom he owes satisfaction ? 

As cases may well occur in which a citizen, troubled by scruples of con- 
science at not having paid the proper amount of taxes due, comes to 
make confession, the Jesuit moral theologians also deal with this type of 
problem. Their decision in these cases is frequently to the effect that no 
one is compelled to pay a tax the justice of which is doubtful. As the 
payment of taxes is, in the opinion of many of them, a "hateful thing," 
res odiosa, the citizen may confine himself to paying only such taxes as 
are beyond doubt just. Consistently with this view, public finance of- 
ficers who have been remiss in their duties through being too indulgent 
towards the tax-payers are themselves judged indulgently, "especially 
if they exercise lenience in minor matters, particularly towards poor 
persons and those who normally pay promptly." 

It frequently happened that pious persons were troubled by scruples 
about the binding nature of the laws of the Faith, and in these cases, 
too, it was by no means always easy for the priest to make a correct 

Anti-Jmul canialnrc of the period 


decision. Accordingly, the casuists dealt with such questions at very 
considerable length : whether it was permissible to remove furniture on 
Sundays ; whether a tradesman was permitted to sell meat on fast-days ; 
whether, when visiting heathen countries, it was permissible to put on 
the dress of the unbelievers ; whether a Jewish nurse might be engaged, 
and whether it was permissible to visit Protestant churches out of mere 
curiosity. These matters were similarly complicated by considerations of 
class distinction. Was it permissible for a cook to prepare meat dishes 
for her employers on fast-days ? 

In any attempt to deal exhaustively with all the cases of conscience 
met with in confessional practice, all the many and varied sexual prob- 
lems had necessarily to be considered. The moral theologians accord- 
ingly endeavoured to register carefully the sexual relationships and to 
determine when and how they were sinful. The duties and failings of 
husband and wife escaped the attention of the casuists as little as 
did the sins of professional prostitutes, the wildest excesses of libertines, 
the half-repressed desires of right-living young men and women, and the 
slightest offences against strict propriety. 

How was a priest living in celibacy and lacking all experience of such 
matters to adjudicate rightly upon these sins? Men and women who had 
offended against the law of chastity or else entertained a variety of rep- 
rehensible desires or thoughts constantly came to him. The one might 
confess to having been guilty of the utmost excesses, while another 
might complain that he was unable to rid himself of an ardent desire 
the gratification of which was forbidden. A wife might have sold her- 
self in order to obtain money which she badly needed either for herself 
or for her family. Was she to be required to return the money obtained 
through forbidden means ? Was a house-owner who had let his house 
to prostitutes to be granted absolution ? 

The father-confessor to whom his penitents had confided such of- 
fences needed only to consult his manual on casuistry to obtain straight- 
way the fullest information regarding all these things, and thereby be 
enabled to pronounce competent judgment upon them. 

The casuists did not fail also to determine carefully the obligations 
arising out of the seduction of a young girl : their works give directions 
on when an offer of monetary compensation was proper or required 
pro amissa virginitate, in what cases the seducer was to be required to 
marry the girl he had seduced, what action was to be taken if the girl 
had in the meantime offended with another man, or if the man and the 
girl were of widely different social stations. 


To the consideration of the question whether the procuring of an 
abortion, which was so rigorously forbidden by the Church, was ex- 
cusable in individual cases, many paragraphs were devoted. The case 
might perhaps be one of a midwife who, in order to save her from com- 
mitting suicide, .assisted a girl who had been seduced ; or a doctor may 
have interrupted pregnancy in a woman solely for the reason that her 
life would be gravely endangered by motherhood. 

With that most admirable gravity, to which the Latin language lends 
itself, the casuists dealt with those difficult problems of marital life of 
which the confessor knew so little : "Non peccat negans, quando dter 
immoderate petit, v. gr. post tertiam vel quartam vicem eadem nocte. 
. . /' "Culpa vacant oscula quaelibet honesta aut tactus in paries turn 
honestas, turn minus honestas (si leviter fiant), inter conjuges ratione 
affectus conjugavis demonstrandi aut amoris confovendi etiamsi ali- 
quando per accidens sequeretur involuntaria pollutio. . . " "Non pec- 
cat graviter, imo juxta communiorem et probdbiliorem sentientiam nee 
leviter uxor, quae seipsam tactibus excitat ad seminationem statim post 
copulam in qua vir solus seminavit" 

It often happened that poor and rich women had avoided the main 
object of marriage, the procreatio prolis; the father-confessor was now 
able to determine whether such an act was always to be regarded as rep- 
rehensible and sinful. How fortunate it was for them that the casuists 
had dealt fully with such a matter ! 

To the conscientious moral theologian, the most trivial offence was of 
no less importance than the most serious, and accordingly, the worthy 
fathers had not failed to seek out the minutest infringements against the 
moral law, and to surround them with a host of mitigating circum- 
stances, so as to ensure that a venial sin should not wrongly be judged 
too harshly. 

If, for example, a woman came to confess that she was guilty of an 
excessive love of finery, the priest had only to consult Escobar's work in 
seven volumes, Universae theologiae moralis problemata, to find the rul- 
ing : "If a woman affects finery without any wrongful purpose, but only 
from natural vanity, she is guilty either of a mere venial sin or of no 
sin at all." 

Again, by consulting Gury, the father-confessor was enabled to as- 
certain whether it was a grave sin for a woman to appear publicly en 
decollete; this author held that it constituted a grave sin for a woman to 
expose her bosom "for the greater part or half-way" ; "if, however, the 
exposure is not excessive, custom may easily absolve her of grave sin." 


There was, apparently, nothing with which these reference books on 
moral casuistry did not deal ; there were detailed examinations into the 
question whether a servant might saddle the horse of his master who 
was setting out on some affair of gallantry, as well as regulations for 
booksellers on the sale of immoral books. Such works Gury, for ex- 
ample, considers might in certain circumstances be sold to wise and 
educated men "whose only object in reading them is to condemn them 
or to warn others against them." 

Even the various forms of dancing were subjected to a close moral 
study, since the father-confessor might well be called upon to give 
guidance to young girls and boys upon what forms of entertainment 
were allowed or forbidden. The Jesuit casuists, concerned to deal with 
everything, saw to it that the priest should not experience any difficulty 
in dealing with this matter either, and accordingly they gave a full 
survey of all the legitimate pleasures associated with dancing. "To dance 
with all due propriety or to attend well-conducted dances, when there is 
a certain obligation to do so, does not constitute a sin, if there is no rea- 
son to anticipate that the senses will be excited." Quite a different view 
was, however, to be taken in the case of a young man who "takes or 
presses a woman's hand for the physical pleasure it affords him"; in 
such cases "the guilt is the greater or the less according to the degree of 
danger it involves." 

The priests are instructed also on the restricted rights of the socially 
outcast criminals, vagrants and beggars. If a criminal is illegally ex- 
amined by a judge, he may commit falsehood; a prisoner convicted 
wrongfully may not only escape from prison, but may delude his ward- 
ers or make them drunk in order to achieve his end ; similarly, he may 
assist his fellow-sufferers in escaping. In precisely the same manner, the 
particular cases of conscience of high and mighty persons are dealt with, 
in that the casuists prescribe in detail the circumstances in which princes 
and commanders may embark on wars, suppress rebellions and exact 

While, therefore, there was scarcely any point of doubt left undeter- 
mined regarding any wrongful action, these works on moral theology 
laid down, on the other hand, precise directions for the observance and 
fulfilment of the Christian duties and virtues in everyday life. In the 
same way as the vices, the virtues too were systematically arranged 
under innumerable paragraphs and sections, and just as the casuists 
had not been content with the general nature of the commandments 
such as "Thou shalt not kill" or 'Thou shalt not steal," so they had 


not been content with the excessive simplicity of the laws of virtue. 

The ideal exhortation : "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" 
could not satisfy them, for the reason that, in practical life, it was rarely, 
if ever, possible to carry out this precept to its full extent. The Jesuit 
moralist, who never omitted to deal with the special case within the gen- 
eral law, proceeded on the lines of the principle formulated by Molina : 
"The duty of love does not require that we should deny ourselves ad- 
vantage in order to preserve our neighbour from suffering prejudice in 
an equal degree." 

A carefully graduated system was, therefore, drawn up, according to 
which the requirements of the divine commandment in question were 
held to be duly fulfilled : "In the matter of the love of our neighbours/* 
writes Gury, "we must also bring a certain order. For, on the one hand, 
we must love persons who are more or less perfect, or who stand to us 
in a nearer or farther relationship, and, on the other hand, the good 
which we wish them, or to which we must help them, is more or less 

Gury accordingly recommends that, "all other things being equal," 
our love for our neighbour should be greatest in the case of those persons 
"who are nearest to us either through kinship or friendship or by virtue 
of our office, of their creed or their origin." Thus, a man should place 
"(i) his parents before all others, (2) his wife before his children, his 
children before his brothers and sisters, his brothers and sisters before 
his other relatives, (3) his friends, benefactors and superiors, and those 
persons who perform the greater service for the common good, before 
all others." 

Naturally, too, the extent to which a man is called upon to assist his 
"neighbour" is not left undetermined ; this is graduated carefully on the 
basis of the degree of need in the individual case. In this connexion, two 
main categories are to be distinguished : the "bodily" and the "spiritual" 
need, each of which categories is again split up into three sub-divisions. 

The virtue of the giving of alms also is not left unregulated : "In cases 
of great or extreme need, sufficient should be given to the poor person to 
relieve this need. . . . Nobody is, however, called upon to lay out a 
considerable sum of money in order that a poor person may be saved 
from the risk of dying, or that he may obtain very costly medicaments. 
... In a normal case of need, it would appear to suffice if one gives alms 
to the extent of a tenth or a twentieth part of one's yearly income, after 
deducting expenditure on the wages of employees and other such items." 

Specific regulations were also laid down governing the duties of the 


master towards his sick servant. Was the father-confessor to require a 
rich man, out of pure charity, to continue to pay his sick employee wages 
during the period of the illness, or even to reimburse him for his ex- 
penses for medical treatment? The majority of the casuists answered 
this question in the negative; the master was not obliged to pay the 
wages or the living costs, or even the costs of treatment of the sick 
servant, "excepting perhaps in isolated cases, out of pure Christian 
charity, if the sick person is in considerable need." 

The learned authors of these treatises on moral theology were not 
unfamiliar even with the innermost workings of the human soul, and in 
almost every case they have a word of excuse even for what outwardly 
are very wrongful wishes and thoughts. The question whether it is in- 
consistent with love for one's neighbour to wish him some harm for his 
own ultimate good is answered by Gury in the negative, "if the true 
order of love is preserved." Such evil wishes, he considers, are excus- 
able " ( I ) in consideration of the spiritual profit to the fellow-being him- 
self, (2) in consideration of the common good, whether spiritual or 
temporal, (3) in consideration also of the advantage accruing to a 
number of persons, if of much greater significance." Gury, however, 
qualifies this with the remark : "Nevertheless, such wishes are entirely 
superfluous and other and much better should be entertained." 

The Jesuit casuist Hurtado holds that a son may rejoice at his father's 
death in view of the inheritance he acquires, "not however from per- 
sonal hatred, but only on account of the advantage he derives." Other 
Jesuit moralists explain that the intention of the person formulating the 
wish in such cases is directed, not to the death of the father, but to the 
fortune inherited, and accordingly the father-confessor should not con- 
demn the son point-blank on account of an emotion so easily explained 
psychologically and so humanly understandable. 

Earnestly concerned as were the learned authors of these works on 
moral theology to furnish the priest with the necessary exact knowledge 
for the exercise of his difficult office, yet in many cases their views were 
widely divergent. Whereas, for example, in Escobar's works the father- 
confessor was informed that the petty thefts of a servant amounted, 
under certain circumstances, only to a venial sin, yet Sanchez, under 
identical circumstances, held them to constitute a mortal sin, while 
Molina did not regard them as a sin at all. 

Busembaum had written : "A son who steals a large sum of money 
from his parents commits a grave sin," and Lessius had expressed the 
view that, if the father were rich, this "large sum" began at two gold 


pieces. Sanchez, however, wanted to fix the minimum at six gold pieces. 
Banez, on the other hand, held an entirely different view, and wanted to 
fix the amount at not less than fifty gold pieces ; Lugo and Lacroix re- 
jected this, except in the case of the son of a prince, and Liguori wanted 
exemption up to twenty gold pieces. 

Similar differences of opinion had arisen also on the question of the 
amount of meat that might be eaten on fast-days. Whilst one moralist 
fixed the amount for the purposes of constituting a grave sin at upwards 
of sixty grammes (one-eighth of a pound), another allowed of a hun- 
dred and twenty, and a third even a hundred and forty grammes. Sim- 
ilarly, disagreement existed on how many pages of a book banned by 
the Church a person might read, and how many days he might have the 
book in his house. Some authors allowed three pages and one day, while 
others, more indulgent, extended this limit to six pages and three days. 

The Moral Philosophy of the Talmud and of the Stoics 

As early as the seventeenth century, the Jesuits were accused of hav- 
ing "corrupted" Catholic Christianity "with the pharisaical-rabbinical 
spirit," and with having perverted the clear moral laws of the Gospel 
into "subtle Talmudic formulas." Even today, there appear from time to 
time pamphlets which, by reason of such points of similarity, endeavour 
to show that the Jesuits and the Jews are alike in spirit. 

It is, in fact, remarkable how far the similarity between the Jesuit 
moral theology and the prescriptions of the Jewish Mishnah extends, and 
it is often a difficult matter to say off-hand whether a quotation is taken 
from the one or the other of the two schools of doctrine. 

For instance, the Jesuit Gury (vin, 672/1 ) deals with the case of 
"the servant Didacus," who, overnight, puts a very valuable piece of 
crystal glass belonging to his master in a corner of the room where 
nobody is likely to pass, with the intention of putting it in its proper 
place early on the following day. "But the same evening Basilius comes 
home, and, in the darkness, knocks against the glass and breaks it. What 
is just in this case?" 

The Mishnah (Chap, in, Example 5) provides as follows: "If two 
persons, the one carrying a vessel and the other a beam, collide, and, in 
the collision, the vessel is broken by the beam, the latter person is ex- 
empt from all liability since the former could have made way for the 
latter. If the person carrying the beam is in front and the person with 
the vessel is behind, the former is similarly not liable. If, however, with- 


out adequate reason and only for the purpose of resting, he stops, then 
he is liable for the smashing of the vessel; he is, on the other hand, 
exempt from liability if he had previously told the person carrying the 
vessel to stop also. If the one carrying the vessel is in front and is fol- 
lowed by the one carrying the beam, then the latter is liable. . . . Like- 
wise must be judged the case where, of two persons, the one is carrying 
a light and the other a load of flax, and the flax is set alight." 

The Mishnah further prescribes (Chap, n, Example 3) as follows: 
"If a dog or a goat jumps off a roof and breaks something, then the 
damage must be made good since it is in the nature of these animals to 
jump. If, however, a dog steals a cake baked on the coals and runs off 
with it to a heap of corn, eats the cake and sets fire to the heap of corn 
through a live cinder adhering to the cake, then the owner of the dog 
must make full compensation for the cake but only to the extent of half 
for the corn." 

An entirely similar passage is contained in Gury's moral theology 
(vn, 672/2), as follows: "Quirinus decides to steal a length of cloth; 
he breaks at nighttime into a factory, kindles a light, but is careful to 
avoid all danger of a fire. Through some unforeseen circumstance, as, 
for example, a cat's jumping, he drops his torch on to the litter lying 
around, and in a short while the whole factory is ablaze and it is only 
with difficulty that he succeeds in saving his own life. What is the posi- 
tion of Quirinus ? 

"The answer is : he is not responsible, since he had not been able to 
anticipate this particular risk. . . . That he was in the act of taking the 
cloth was not the cause of the fire nor did the fact that he was carrying 
a torch, provided sufficient care were taken, constitute an immediate 
risk of fire. If, however, the thief was not merely about to take the cloth, 
but had actually completed the theft . . . and if, subsequently, through 
some mischance, as in the lighting of a torch, a fire breaks out, he is 
bound to make restitution. . . ." 

Gury describes a further case as follows (vm, 672/3) : "From mo- 
tives of revenge, Pomponius, unseen by anyone, shoots at Maurus's goat 
as it is browsing quietly in its master's field ; instead of the goat, which is 
unhurt, he hits and kills Maurus's cow, as, unbeknown to him, it lay 
beneath the hedge. What is Pomponius's liability? 

"The answer is : none. For he has incurred no liability in respect of 
the goat which he intended to hit but which was unhurt, nor in respect 
of the cow, since the loss inflicted on Maurus could not have been fore- 
seen. . . ." 


The Mishnah (Chap, vi, Example 3) treats of similar cases concern- 
ing animals : "If a person hires an ass in order to ride up into the moun- 
tains and instead rides it down into the valleys, or conversely, and the 
ass dies, then he is liable for compensation. If the ass goes blind or is 
seized for statute-labour, the hirer can say to the owner of the ass : Your 
property is returned to you. If, however, the ass dies or breaks a leg, 
then the hirer must make good its loss. If the hirer hires the animal 
for the purpose of riding up into the mountains, and instead rides it 
down into the valleys, and the ass slips and injures itself, then the hirer 
is not liable (since this was more likely to happen in the mountains) ; 
if, however, the animal dies from exhaustion, then the hirer must make 
good its loss. If, on the other hand, the animal is hired for the valleys 
and is ridden up into the mountains, the hirer is liable for compensation 
if it sustains injury from slipping down, but not if it suffers harm 
through exhaustion, since this might equally well have happened in 
descending into the valley." 

Just as in the case of the Jesuits, the Jewish casuists fall into stricter 
or more tolerant schools. Whereas, for instance, the believer, according 
to one moral theologian, is allowed to eat a certain quantity of meat on 
fast-days, another moral theologian allows only a much smaller quantity. 
Similarly, one rabbi decides that a cripple with a wooden leg may go out 
on the Sabbath, another prescribes that he must not. 

The Talmud says : 'The House of Shammai declare that a man be- 
comes unclean from sitting on the seat of a bride even though the 
covering has been removed; the House of Hillel, however, hold that 
he does not become unclean, since the seat no longer serves for a bride 
but is to be regarded as broken. ..." 

It is accordingly a simple matter, in view of such points of agreement 
between the Jewish and the Jesuit moralists, to arrive at the conclusion 
that the Jesuits were merely concerned with perverting the Christian 
faith. Whoever, though, rejects the ready facility with which trivial 
pamphleteers arrive at conclusions is forced to ask himself what is really 
at the basis of these remarkable instances of similarity of thought. He 
will then immediately see that the very obscure and subtle conclusions 
at which Jesuit casuistry often arrives by no means represent an "in- 
sinuation of the spirit of the Talmud into the Christian faith," but that, 
in Judaism as well as in Jesuitism, the same inevitable process has oper- 
ated that invariably comes into play whenever man attempts to apply 
moral precepts of a general nature normatively to the individual case 
arising in practical life. 


Such attempts can produce nothing more than a collection of pedantic 
decisions based partly on experience and partly on logical deduction. 
If the analysis of the ethical laws into concrete rules of conduct is carried 
sufficiently far, then it must necessarily result in such abstruse decisions 
as are to be found in abundance in the Talmud and the casuistic works 
of the Jesuits, and, indeed, in the earlier writings of the Greek and 
Roman philosophers. In principle, it amounts to the same thing if, like 
the Talmud and the Jesuit moral theology, Aristotle examines into the 
question how man should act if he cannot be both courageous and just 
or whether a virtuous man may be the friend of an evil man or con- 

The Academic and particularly the later Stoic schools adduced and 
discussed, in the course of their further examinations into the interrela- 
tionship of the various virtues, a number of "cases" which bear a strik- 
ing correspondence to the Talmudic and Jesuit moral problems. 

A much-discussed case of this nature was as follows : "A righteous 
man brings from Alexandria to Rhodes a large shipload of corn at a 
time when corn is exceptionally dear in this town on account of famine. 
He is, at the same time, aware that a number of other merchants from 
Alexandria are immediately following him, and that, accordingly, in a 
very short while, the shortage will no longer exist. Ought he then to 
announce the good tidings to the people of Rhodes, or ought he to keep 
silence and sell his corn, which in the meantime is exceptionally valu- 
able, at the highest possible price ?" 

This and other similar problems of casuistry had been discussed at 
length by the Stoics, Diogenes the Babylonian and Antipater of Tarsus. 
Hecato's work, Of Duty, was also concerned with such inquiries and 
contained, among others, the question : "Is it proper that a righteous 
man in times of acute famine should fail to provide his slaves with sub- 
sistence?" After going at length into all arguments for and against, 
Hecato is inclined to the view that the master, with due regard of course 
to his own interests, is not called upon to keep his slaves in time of need. 
The conflict between morality and material interest is most clearly ex- 
pressed by the further question of Hecato : "If, at sea, it is necessary to 
throw anything overboard, which should be sacrificed first, a valuable 
horse or a cheap slave ?" 

Carneades of Cyrene similarly treats in his writings of a series of 
cases of conflict between material advantage and morality, in connex- 
ion with which we find the view already advanced that to kill a fellow- 
man is permissible in order to save one's own life. 


fronting the father-confessor. The closer they were studied, the greater 
became the divergence between the "example" of the casuists and the 
actual case of the penitent. 

The confessor was, therefore, often enough left to his own resources, 
either by reason of the fact that the matter in question was not dealt with 
at all in the books, or because the rulings of the various theologians con- 
flicted with one another. Occasionally, it was a matter of grave doubt 
whether, under given circumstances, a specific rule was still applicable, 
or whether, having regard to the special considerations attaching to the 
case, it should not be relaxed in the particular instance in question. 

This difficulty arose from the nature of the law itself : the laws and 
regulations were for the most part simple and clear as the light of day, 
so long as their general nature only was concerned ; they immediately, 
however, became obscure as soon as an attempt was made to apply them 
in actual practice to the particular case ; the process of judgment then 
suddenly became exceptionally difficult and uncertain. 

The moral theologians had, however, also provided for such eventu- 
alities, and had laid down principles for dealing with doubtful cases of 
conscience. In this connexion, two fundamental possibilities were dis- 
tinguished which, in the Latin of the theologians, were described as 
opinio pro lege and opinio pro libertate. For, in cases of doubt, the view 
could be adopted that the law must always be followed, even though its 
validity in the given case appeared to be only probable, or else that in- 
dividual freedom of decision could be reserved, and not be bound by the 

According to the greater or less rigidity of their convictions, the 
various moral casuists had upheld the one or the other of these views, or 
adopted a middle course, and ultimately a number of different schools 
had arisen, each of which counted its zealous supporters. The "Abso- 
lute Tutiorists" contended that the law must be adhered to in all cir- 
cumstances, even if only the shadow of a probability of its applicability 
to the case in question existed ; the "Moderate Tutiorists/' on the other 
hand, held the view that it was obligatory to observe a doubtful law only 
so long as its inapplicability was not beyond question or was at least ex- 
tremely probable. The "Probabiliorists" considered the non-observance 
of the law was permissible if the probabilities against were greater 
than those in favour of its applicability ; the "Equiprobabilists" favoured 
non-observance of the law in every case in which the arguments against 
its applicability were as strong as those in favour. 

Finally, the "Probabilists" held that only those laws need be observed 


which were unquestionably applicable to the case in point, since man was 
a free agent by nature, and this freedom could be restricted by definite 
obligations alone. An ambiguous law, they contended, was without bind- 
ing force : Lex dubia non obligat. 

If, therefore, reasonable arguments existed both for and against the 
legitimacy of an action, the action, according to this view, was permis- 
sible; the fact that the arguments against may prevail over those for 
does not affect the case. So long as it is possible for two opposing views 
to be entertained, the law is ambiguous and accordingly not binding. If, 
therefore, there is a probability that an action is permissible, then it may 
be performed with a clear conscience, even though there exists a greater 
probability that it is contrary to the law. 

The Jesuits, then, adopted this theory of "Probabilism," and made it 
one of the most prominent ideas of their moral system. Not that they 
were the originators of this doctrine; similar views had already been 
propounded by the ancients. Proceeding from the fundamental hypothe- 
ses of Aristotle, Carneades of Cyrene had developed the thesis that no 
truth could be assumed for any of our ideas, but only "probability." 
This probability, he held, could be classified in varying degrees. 

In close conformity with Aristotle's logical system, Carneades had 
also carefully examined the considerations which it was necessary to 
take into account in determining the greater or lesser degree of prob- 
ability, and he had laid down the principle that, while the possibility of 
error was always present, this fact could not rob us of certainty in action. 
For, since nothing in life is absolutely certain, and we can, indeed, assent 
to no idea in the sense that we declare it to be "true," nevertheless, we 
can always find a way out on the grounds of "strong probability." Car- 
neades expressly drew attention to the fact that this "theory of prob- 
ability" applies particularly to ethical convictions and moral principles. 

Many of the scholastics afterwards expressed similar views, until 
eventually, in the year 1577, its final theologico-philosophical formula- 
tion was given to the Probabilistic system by the Dominican monk, 
Bartholomeus de Medina. In his commentary on Thomas Aquinas's 
"Prima Secundae" Medina wrote that, although, logically, the more 
probable view was always the more certain, yet man was not always 
bound to take the more certain course ; man might also follow that de- 
cision which has been acknowledged as merely "good and certain." 

But even in later times, Probabilism was not the exclusive property of 
the Jesuits ; for a considerable period, in fact, it was accepted by almost 
all the teachers of moral theology. Exponents of the Probabilist system 


were to be found not only among Catholic theologians, but also among 
Protestant writers ; thus, for example, the Lutheran theologian, Georg 
Calixtus, wrote, in almost the identical words of Medina : "If, of two 
opinions, the one is more probable, it is not necessary to choose the more 
probable ; the less probable may be adopted, if it is supported by strong 
arguments or has authority." 

It was the casuist Vasquez who, towards the close of the sixteenth 
century, was the first among the Jesuits to take over Probabilism from 
the Dominicans. From then onwards, this doctrine spread ever more 
quickly throughout the Society of Jesus, whilst, on the other hand, the 
monks of Bartholomeus of Medina's order turned towards the more 
rigid doctrine of "Probabiliorism," with its principle of the "more prob- 
able opinion." Thus, it ultimately came about that the Dominicans be- 
came violent opponents of the principle they had originated, while the 
Jesuits, on the other hand, became its most ardent defenders. 

As is plainly evident from the works of Carneades, Probabilism, with 
all its premises, rests upon the doctrines of Aristotle, and therefore was 
eminently fitted to the Jesuit system, since, according to the Nicoma- 
chean Ethics, moral actions are nothing else than the outcome of mental 
deliberation, of a reasoned choice between two contradictory possibili- 
ties, between good and evil. The will, which has to decide in favour of 
one or other of these two alternatives, is, however, guided and deter- 
mined in this process by the reason. 

To attribute to the reason and to the will, which is governed by the 
reason, the function of determining the moral value of an action neces- 
sarily presupposes a strong doubt whether the moral principles laid 
down are categorically and unconditionally binding in all circumstances. 
Only he who is not inwardly already certain how he should act in all 
cases can find himself in a position in which he has to choose, by rea- 
soned deliberation, between two alternatives. 

As a logical consequence, therefore, Jesuit moral theology recognizes 
that the moral laws and precepts cannot be regarded as having an abso- 
lute and binding force. If, for instance, the Jesuits conclude, the natural 
laws inspired by God in the human heart and the revealed standards 
laid down by positive law had absolute and binding force and were to 
be observed whatever the circumstances, then this would constitute a 
negation of the principle of the freedom of the will, since the binding 
nature of a particular moral law and the resulting obligation would 
directly preclude the free exercise of judgment by the reason and, there- 
fore, actions of a voluntary nature. 


Since, however, under the fundamental principle of the Jesuit philoso- 
phy, the freedom of the human will cannot be disputed, the individual 
moral laws cannot be regarded as binding in all circumstances. It is un- 
derstandable, therefore, that Cathrein should have said that the moral 
law imposes on us merely a "conditional or moral compulsion," and that 
it "consists only of a conditional obligation" arising out of the exercise 
of reasoned judgment. 

This shifting of morality to the plane of choice governed by reason 
became the basic idea of the whole Jesuit moral system, and through it 
the Jesuits arrived directly at that intellectualist conception of the con- 
science which is such a distinctive feature of their philosophy. 

The question of the nature of the conscience has, however, for cen- 
turies divided not only Jesuitism from the non- Jesuit world, but also, in 
general, Aristoteleans from Platonists. The fundamental difference in 
the conception of the nature of the conscience was not the least of the 
factors which caused the secession of the Reformers from the Catholic 
Church, and even today it is this point perhaps which most sharply di- 
vides the idealistic philosophy inspired by the Platonic-Protestant spirit 
from the philosophy of Rome. 

The "Certain" and the "Uncertain" Conscience 

Even in the early days of Christianity, a remarkable blending of early 
Greek thought with the images of the Old Testament had taken place ; 
in this connexion the doctrine of synteresis is especially significant. The 
conception of synteresis, of the "preservation" or "safeguarding" of 
the paradisaical state, is first expressed by the early church fathers, as, 
for instance, Gregory of Nazianzus, and it represents a methexis, a 
"participation" of the human soul in the world of eternal Ideas. 

St. Jerome, one of the fathers of the Latin church, writes very beau- 
tifully on this subject in his commentary on the Prophet Ezekiel : he 
declared that what the Greeks had described as synteresis was "a spark 
of the conscience," which had remained alive in the breast of Adam 
even after his expulsion from Paradise, and which guides man at all 
times amid the difficulties and perplexities of earthly life, and makes 
him conscious of his sins. 

The German mystics, in particular Master Eckhart, never tired of 
glorifying this divine "spark," and under the Reformation, it was re- 
garded as comforting proof of the fact that every individual being was 
in direct communication with God. Out of the conscience, they derived 


the "certainty" that everyone is called upon to justify himself by faith 
before the Creator, let him but pay heed to the voice of God within his 

Against this line of thought influenced by Plato has, however, always 
stood opposed a conception of Aristotelean origin, which has been for- 
mulated most sharply in the Jesuit system of moral theology. Aristotle 
had entirely rejected Plato's doctrine of ideas and held that the Idea 
of Good was not applicable "to the practical sciences"; for, he 
pointed out, ethics was comparable to rhetoric rather than to mathe- 

A "low" conception of ethics such as this later on formed the basis 
of the majority of the moral theories of the Stoics, the scholastics and, 
finally, the Jesuits. From it arose the pipblems of casuistry and ulti- 
mately, too, those of Probabilism, under which the good appears re- 
peatedly as the result of a reasoned examination of a particular case. 
According, therefore, to Aristotle's Jesuit disciples, too, the cpnscience 
could not signify anything else than the process of rational deliberation 
supposedly preceding every action. In accordance with this interpreta- 
tion, the Jesuit Gury defines the conscience as a "practical expression of 
the reason, or a practical judgment whereby we decide that something 
shall be done because it is good, or shall be left undone because it is evil." 
Gury expressly adds that it is precisely this functioning in every prac- 
tical case which distinguishes the conscience "from synteresis, which 
merely lays down general principles." 

The complete intellectualization of the conscience is perhaps still more 
clearly illustrated by a passage from the Jesuit moral philosopher, Cath- 
rein, which is very reminiscent of Aristotle : "The conscience is virtu- 
ally, at least, the conclusion of a syllogism. It is, therefore, possible to 
examine both the general principle of this syllogism (the major prem- 
ise) and the concrete fact to which it is applied (the minor premise) 
and thus perhaps arrive at a certain conclusion." 

Whoever, like Plato, believes in "the world of eternal Ideas," in an 
imperative which represents the governing principle of every human 
action, must regard it as an absolute obligation to act morally ; in this 
conception there is, however, no place for a reasoned and syllogistic ex- 
amination into the arguments for and against, for a free decision be- 
tween two possibilities. Whoever, on the other hand, considers, like 
Aristotle, that it is not incumbent upon him to recognize the absolute 
nature of the imperative, for him exist no absolute principles governing 
human actions ; rather does he consider that his reason is able to achieve 


the "attainable good" by wise judgment and a proper exercise of the 

Whilst, however, the manifestations of a conscience based on the 
Platonic "imperative" can be conceived of only in the form of com- 
plete certainty, Aristotle's conception of "the good" demands the closest 
examination by the reason and a subsequent "choice." Such a conscience 
is not absolute, and accordingly admits of deliberation, doubt and hesi- 
tation ; in place of certainty, we then have "opinion." An opinion can, 
however, never have behind it anything but a more or less great prob- 
ability; very appositely, therefore, Gury defines "opinion" as "an un- 
certain judgment, resting on an uncertain basis, accompanied by the 
fear of being wrong, or the acceptance of a judgment accompanied by 
the fear that another may also be right." 

Thus then, by the substitution of opinion for the certain knowledge 
of what is morally right, all the premises of Probabilism were found : 
where th "conscience" has been changed into something "uncertain," 
then opinions may exist which are "probable," "more probable" and 
"less probable," and the need for system becomes felt to guide the seeker 
through the wilderness of conflicting "opinions." In this matter, he 
will, as Carneades had indicated in his doctrine, always have to content 
himself with probabilities, and relinquish all hopes of absolute certainty. 

"The necessary certainty for action," writes Cathrein therefore, 
"need not be absolute. It is sufficient if that moral certainty in the wider 
sense exists which is commonly sufficient for reasonable people in prac- 
tical life. On the average, this agrees with truth, although, exceptionally, 
an error may arise " 

Immanuel Kant, in whose philosophy the principles of Plato and also 
those of the German Reformation received their fullest expression, had 
necessarily to reject any attempt of this kind to substitute reasoned 
deliberation for the conscience. Thus, in his Religion within the Bounds 
of Reason Only, he writes that reason may indeed determine whether an 
action is definitely right or wrong ; "but regarding that which I am about 
to do, I must not only form a judgment or an opinion, but I must also 
be certain that it is not wrong, and this exigency is a postulate of the 
conscience, to which Probabilism, i. e., the principle that the mere 
opinion that an action may be rightful is sufficient to justify its per- 
formance, is opposed. . . . The conscience does not judge actions as 
cases falling under the law ; that is done by the reason in so far as it is 
subjective-practical (hence the casus conscientiae and casuistry as a kind 
of dialectic of the conscience) ; in this connexion, however, the reason 


of itself judges whether all due care has been exercised in judging of 
actions (whether they are right or wrong), and makes man bear witness, 
either for or against himself, that this care has or has not been ex- 

For Kant, as for Plato, Master Eckhart and the Reformers, the con- 
science is the direct "participation" of man in the Idea of the Good, and 
accordingly a guarantee of his moral autonomy. Consequently, Kant 
writes in the above-mentioned work, at the beginning of the paragraph, 
"Of the direction of the conscience in matters of faith" : "The question 
here is not how the conscience should be directed. The conscience needs 
no directing influence ; it is sufficient that it exists. . . . The conscience 
is a consciousness that imposes its own obligation. . . . The conscious- 
ness that an action which I contemplate is right is therefore an un- 
qualified obligation in itself." 

Thus, in Kant's ethics, the conception of the direct autonomous cer- 
tainty of men in all moral questions is most emphatically expressed, and, 
in this connexion, Kant also upholds the doctrine of the unconditional 
nature of all obligations recognized by the conscience. 

Whilst, however, the Platonic conception of the ideal significance of 
morality and the binding nature of the conscience necessarily leads to 
autonomy, the Aristotelean intellectualization of the conscience must 
logically lead to a heteronomous morality. If, for instance, the good is 
really the mere outcome of a decision of the reason, and if the conscience 
cannot afford absolute certainty, but merely a certain degree of prob- 
ability, then the case will repeatedly arise in which man, owing to the 
imperfection of his mind, will be unable to arrive at a clear judgment 
regarding his duties. He will fall into "doubts of conscience" and im- 
mediately be tempted to ask a fellow-being for his judgment and to con- 
form to this judgment. Cicero had already expressed the view that it is 
not inexpedient, "in cases in which doubt exists, to seek the counsel of 
learned and experienced men, and to ascertain their judgment on what 
duty demands in individual cases. . . ." 

Since the theory of Probabilism spoke originally of "valid grounds" 
for the probability of an opinion, the "authority" of a teacher must soon 
follow from such grounds. This transition from what the moral theo- 
logians describe as "inner Probabilism" to "outer Probabilism," based 
solely upon the opinion of others, is clearly expressed in Escobar's writ- 
ings in which it is stated, in this connexion, that an opinion is probable 
if it "is based on grounds of some importance." From this, it is evident 
"that at times a single authority, if he commands respect, can render an 


opinion probable ; a man who is entirely devoted to the pursuit of knowl- 
edge will not identify himself with an opinion unless it rests on good 
and adequate grounds." In the same sense, Sanchez says on this point 
that a probable opinion is one "which does not rest on superficial 
grounds ; the view of a wise and learned man is, however, not a super- 
ficial but, rather, a material ground." 

Ignatius himself had expressly sanctioned the principle of subordi- 
nating one's own judgment to the authority of an acknowledged teacher, 
when he declared, on the question how soldiers should conduct them- 
selves in a war of doubtful justice : "If a man knows the war to be just 
or has become convinced of its justice after consulting trustworthy per- 
sons or in some other probable manner, then he commits no sin in tak- 
ing part in the war/' In the Directorium dictated by Ignatius for Jesuit 
father-confessors, it is further stated that absolution should not be 
denied to a penitent who, on the authority of an eminent teacher, had 
believed a particular action not to be a mortal sin. 

To the Jesuits, in their efforts to minimize the number and gravity of 
all sins, the Probabilist system must naturally have been uncommonly 
useful. For, with this "doctrine of moral probability," it was possible in 
many instances to regard actions as guiltless, even when there were seri- 
ous doubts of their permissibility; the existence of a single probable 
ground in favour of the permissibility of an action sufficed to outweigh 
all other opposing grounds. In this way, the possibility now always ex- 
isted of appealing to the less severe opinion, which permitted something 
otherwise prohibited. 

"For, although the opinion supported by stronger grounds is more 
perfect and certain," declares Escobar, "no one is required to follow 
what is more perfect and certain, for the reason that, as it is impossible 
to arrive at absolute certainty, God does not demand it. God demands of 
us only that we should act with such moral certainty as is to be found in 
the probable opinion. It would be an intolerable burden and would cause 
endless scruples if we were, in fact, to be bound always to follow the 
more probable opinion." Busembaum, too, justifies the right to adopt the 
most tolerant view, when he says that it would represent "an intolerable 
burden" for man "if he were to endeavour to ascertain in every case 
what was more probable and more certain." 

With the aid of Probabilism it now became possible, in accordance 
with the numerous rules which are to be met with in this connexion too 
in the Jesuit works, to deal leniently and indulgently with penitents. 
Probabilism gave the father-confessor authority to exercise leniency 


in a large number of cases, and to judge sins as venial or completely in- 

For both Vasquez and Escobar had taught that the father-confessor 
might, in certain circumstances, advise the penitent to adopt a line of 
conduct which was opposed to his own conviction, in so far as the latter 
had only probable grounds in its favour; the casuist Baunius, too, in 
his treatise on penances, had declared that the penitent whose action was 
supported by a probable opinion must be absolved, even though the 
priest may hold a- contrary opinion. To the same effect, Busembaum 
says : 'The father-confessor or any other learned man may advise a per- 
son, who comes to him for counsel, in accordance with the probable view 
of others, if this view is more favourable to the person concerned ; in 
suoh a case, the father-confessor must disregard his own more probable 
and certain opinion." 

The worthy casuists who laboured with the utmost pains and care in 
the perfection of their system of exculpation had, moreover, not over- 
looked the possibility that even after prolonged searching it might not be 
easy to find a probable opinion in favour of the penitent ; in this case, 
they held that the person might be permitted to continue his efforts to 
find a more lenient judgment until such time as he eventually succeeded : 
"Condemnation should not be pronounced on those who go from one 
authority to another, until they find one whose opinion is favourable to 
them, provided that the authority seems learned, pious and not entirely 
alone in his opinion." 

"Austere and Morbid Pascal" 

With biting sarcasm, Pascal causes his Jesuit to declare with satis- 
faction that it rarely happens that all the Jesuit casuists agree among 
themselves : "They disagree in many cases, but that is no matter. Each of 
himself makes his opinion probable and certain. They often contradict 
one another so much the better! Scarcely ever do they agree, and 
only rarely can a question be found which is not answered in the affirma- 
tive by the one, and in the negative by the other. In all these cases, both 
the one and the other opinion are probable." 

Thus, Pascal argues, Probabilism had made it possible always to 
choose an authority who gave his assent to the particular act intended ; 
this, however, inevitably led to the abandonment of all established stand- 
ards of morality, and morality in this way became entirely void of 
meaning. As an instance of the disastrous consequences of this doctrine, 


Pascal quotes Escobar's dictum that a judge, in deciding a lawsuit, 
should relinquish his own conviction of right in favour of a probable 

In actual fact, Probabilism led, particularly towards the end of the 
sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century, to a surprising 
laxity in the moral ideas of the clergy, and, in the result, Probabilism 
degenerated more and more into that "Laxism" which has been so much 
condemned. The fact that, even within the Church itself, a strong re- 
action against this development set in is attributable* for the most part, 
to Pascal's attacks ; this is openly admitted even today by Jesuit authors. 
The Provincial Letters, with their malicious and provocative selection 
of quotations from Laxist moral treatises, did not fail to make an im- 
pression even in Church circles, and in Rome itself attention began to be 
paid to Probabilism and its dangerous developments. 

In the years 1665 and 1666, not long, therefore, after the appearance 
of the Provincial Letters, Pope Alexander VII condemned a number of 
the ultra-lax principles of the Probabilist moral theology. And Innocent 
XI is said to have seriously contemplated for some time the condemna- 
tion of Probabilism altogether, but finally confined himself to the issue 
of a disapproving edict which Alexander VIII subsequently supple- 
mented with still further orders for the revision of scandalous works 
on morality. In particular, the Dominicans exerted all their influence 
at Rome in order to win a victory for their more severe Probabiliorist 
system over the Probabilism of the Jesuits. 

The political powers of Europe, too, began at that time to pay some 
attention to these moral doctrines since the influence of the Jesuits in 
affairs of state had in many cases become extremely important. The 
Probabilists had, indeed, put up propositions that, from the standpoint 
of the state, seemed somewhat dubious; for instance, Escobar had 
taught that it is morally permissible for the subject to refuse to pay a tax 
which, according to a probable opinion, is unjust. 

But not only the irate Pascal, the jealous Dominicans, and the state 
authorities, concerned about their national revenues, ranged themselves 
against Probabilism; even within the Society of Jesus itself this phi- 
losophy had had, for a long time, its convinced opponents. As early as 
the year 1609, half a century before the appearance of the Provincial 
Letters, the Jesuit Comitolus had written his Responsa moralia as a 
direct challenge to the Probabilist system ; similarly, the Italian Jesuit 
Bianchi, in 1642, attacked this doctrine in a treatise entitled Opinionum 
praxi. In 1670, de Elizalde published a treatise attacking Probabilism, 


and this wave of hostility reached its peak with the publication in 1694 
of the Fundamentum theologiae moralis by Tirso Gonzalez, the general 
of the order, which contained a vigorous criticism of the Probabilist 

Later on, stimulated by Pascal's Provincial Letters, the Idealistic 
school of philqsophy sought to track down the errors of Probabilism; 
not only Kant but Hegel especially, in his Philosophy of Right, dealt 
exhaustively with this subject. "Go then thyself to the Jesuits !" Pascal's 
Jansenist is made to say. 'Thou wilt there find such ignorance regarding 
the Christian virtues, such detachment from love, which is the spirit and 
the life, thou wilt find so many vices palliated and so many excesses con- 
doned, that thou wilt no longer be surprised that they assume that suffi- 
cient grace is extended at all times to all men for them to be able to live 
in the pious state they depict." 

Pascal's condemnation of the Jesuit moral philosophy was destined 
to exercise a predominating influence on public opinion generally for a 
long time. Fanatical preachers and pamphleteers, governments jealous 
of their power, ambitious universities, and royal mistresses whose vanity 
had been wounded took care that the bad opinion in which the Jesuits 
were held should never be revised. Even in our own age there are men 
who pride themselves on their modern open-mindedness, but who cannot 
rid themselves of their belief in the "criminal doctrines and practices" of 
the Society of Jesus. There has been scarcely a single case of regicide, 
or coup d'etat, or political intrigue in the last three centuries in which it 
has not been suggested that the Jesuits were at the bottom of it all, and 
there is scarcely a conceivable form of fraud, infamy and sexual licen- 
tiousness which the Jesuits have not been declared to have encouraged 
or even practised. 

The majority of such statements and accusations have, indeed, since 
been refuted and shown to be fabrications, commencing with the cele- 
brated book of secret criminal instructions, Monita secreta, which served 
for a long period as incontrovertible evidence against the Jesuits. Never- 
theless, there are still to be found men of standing who, like the Jansenist 
of the Provincial Letters, meet every attempt to defend the Jesuits with 
the reply: "Go then thyself to the Jesuits!" Do not the books of the 
Jesuit moral theologians afford proof that the sole purpose of this 
Society is "to palliate every vice" ? 

It has been frequently alleged that the material for Pascal's attacks 
on the Jesuit moral system, which subsequently gave rise to a flood of 
literature directed against the Jesuits, was furnished to him by friends, 


and that he himself did not verify its accuracy. In his Thoughts he 
denied this, however, and, therefore, it must be accepted as a fact that he 
did actually look out the passages in the Jesuit works on casuistry. 
Nevertheless, certain inaccuracies have slipped into the quotations, and 
the Jesuits have since never tired of referring to these inaccurate quota- 
tions in the Provincial Letters. 

More regrettable, however, than this lack of strict accuracy is the fact 
that he makes no attempt whatsoever to examine the philosophic prin- 
ciple of Jesuit morality. Only in very few places does Pascal attempt to 
adduce arguments of a purely moral-philosophic nature, whilst, on the 
other hand, he invariably seeks to refute the quotations from the Jesuit 
works by other quotations and by purely theological arguments. 

Blaise Pascal, like Descartes, had indeed rightly realized that the 
study of philosophy and the natural sciences could progress only if the 
methods of scholasticism were abandoned. "The respect paid to an- 
tiquity," writes Pascal in his Thoughts, "is so great today, in those mat- 
ters in which it is least due, that all its ideas are turned into oracles and 
even its obscurities are made into mysteries, so that it is no longer safe 
to advance new views, and the text of an author is sufficient to invali- 
date the strongest arguments of reason." 

But when it came to matters of theology, Pascal had not the courage 
to cut adrift from the accepted faith in authorities. In theology, he 
writes, authority is absolutely essential, "since the authority is insepara- 
ble from the truth and we can perceive the latter only through the 
former; so that, in order to establish complete certainty regarding mat- 
ters which are not comprehensible by the reason, it is sufficient to turn to 
the holy books ; similarly, to establish the lack of certainty in the most 
probable matters, it is only necessary to show that they are not contained 

It was a fatal error of Pascal's to regard the investigation into the 
Jesuit moral philosophy purely as a theological problem that could be 
disposed of merely by quoting from "authorities." A man of his excep- 
tional intellect was undoubtedly qualified to bring light into the ob- 
scurity and confusion existing from time immemorial in conceptions of 
morality, and would thereby have earned our utmost gratitude. But in 
this direction Pascal has done little more than the meaner intellects of 
his time could have done : the Provincial Letters, in which he endeav- 
oured to crush the Jesuits, did indeed, by their literary skill and wit, 
excite universal admiration, but beyond that they have contributed little 
towards a clearer understanding. 


The Jesuits had been accustomed, from the time of the Molinist con- 
troversy, to defend their views at great length in learned volumes, but 
they had no experience whatever of literary pamphleteering. For a 
long time, therefore, they chose to make no public defence at all, and 
thus strengthened the opinion of the public that Pascal's attacks were 
unanswerable. When eventually they realized the necessity for action, 
and issued their various "Replies" to the Provincial Letters, the effect 
was practically negligible. 

All things considered, victory appeared to lie completely with Pascal, 
and even the burning of the Provincial Letters by the public executioner 
did not affect the position in the slightest. Pascal had the laughers on his 
side, ?nd this, to the public, was of much greater importance than the 
question whether the author was entirely in the right. 

Scarcely had the laughter subsided when some doubts arose even 
among Pascal's friends regarding the methods employed by him ; many a 
reproach was levelled against the philosopher, who, indeed, persisted in 
his attitude, and in his Thoughts declared: "I have been asked whether 
I do not regret having written the Provincial Letters. To which I reply : 
so far from experiencing regret, were I at present engaged on the Let- 
ters, I should be even more severe in them." 

Scarcely a lifetime later, however, we find Voltaire already endeav- 
ouring to demonstrate the untenability of Pascal's attacks. The Provin- 
cial Letters, Voltaire declared, rested on false bases. "The extravagant 
opinions of particular Spanish and Flemish Jesuits were skilfully at- 
tributed to the whole Society of Jesus. Similar material could have been 
unearthed from the works of the Dominican and Franciscan casuists, 
but it was sought only in the case of the Jesuits. These Letters endeav- 
oured to prove that the object of the Jesuits was to pervert the morals of 
humanity an object which has never dominated any sect or organiza- 
tion, nor can ever do so. . . ." 



Merchant Among Merchants and Soldier Among Soldiers 

ON a morning early in the year 1515, once again the spectacle- 
loving Romans were given an occasion to throng the streets : a 
fantastic procession wound over the Bridge of Sant' Angelo, along 
the "royal way" of the Borgo Nuovo, towards the Vatican : mules with 
brocade trappings, swaying dromedaries, elephants with panthers hiss- 
ing and spitting on their backs, and a cavalcade of magnificent horses, 
decked from ear to pastern in shimmering pearls. A crowd of noblemen 
in gorgeous apparel brought up the end of the procession, and, in their 
midst, with head held high and feet in stirrups of pure gold, rode the 
ambassador of the king of Portugal. It was his duty to present to the 
Holy Father, in his sovereign's name, these treasures and curiosities of 
the newly conquered Indian kingdom, as a proof of the Christian senti- 
ments of the court of Lisbon. 

Many years later, when Protestantism had already caused the apos- 
tasy of countless souls from the Catholic Church, when sadder and sad- 
der news was received from Germany, England and Sweden of the loss 
of whole lands with their princes and priests, the people of Rome still 
thought often and pleasurably of this procession. However many lost 
souls the Lutheran heretics might send to hell, there was growing up in 
place of them, in distant India, a new realm of the Catholic Church, much 
larger than all Europe together. 

For, since the day when Vasco da Gama's fleet, with great red crosses 
on the sails, reached the Indian coast, every foot of soil conquered by 
the Portuguese navigators had become a piece of new, Catholic country ; 
priests appeared everywhere at the same time as the soldiers, to bap- 
tize the conquered, and the ground which the conquerors had taken from 
the natives was immediately hallowed by the erection of churches. 

In the third decade of the sixteenth century, it was determined to 
carry on the work of the evangelization of India with redoubled efforts. 
Hitherto Dominicans, Franciscans and secular clergy had spread the 



Gospel in the new colonial territory, but King John III decided to ask 
the pope to permit the sending of some of the members of the newly 
founded Society of Jesus. The king had heard high praise of the activ- 
ities of these priests, and hoped that they would labour for the spread 
of Christianity among the heathen with even greater zeal than the other 

% Actually, this decision of the king's introduced an entirely new epoch, 
not only for Catholic missionary activity, but also for the Society of 
Jesus; the achievements of the Jesuits as apostolic preachers completely 
eclipsed all the successes of the other missionary orders, and it was 
through its activity in the mission field that the Society of Jesus first 
won its real world renown. 

The very first Jesuit who made his way to India proved himself the 
most gifted and successful missionary ever produced by the Catholic 
Church, which was the more remarkable since it was an accident that 
brought about Francis Xavier's call to this task. Ignatius had originally 
appointed his disciple Bobadilla for the journey to India, but he fell ill 
at the last moment; another brother had to take his place, and, as 
Francis Xavier was just then in Rome, Ignatius decided to send him. 

Xavier employed the last night left to him in patching up his tattered 
cassock. The clothes he stood up in, his breviary and a few provisions 
constituted his sole possessions when he set out on his journey early 
next morning in company with the Portuguese ambassador on the over- 
land route to Lisbon. After a year's sojourn there, Xavier set foot on 
the sailing ship which was to take him to India by the Cape of Good 
Hope ; many more weary months elapsed before he set eyes on that mar- 
vellous land from which a new world was to be won "to the greater glory 
of God." 

The ship glided upstream, between the banks of the broad river 
Mandavi, with their dark coconut groves, until Goa, the capital of the 
Portuguese territory in India, was visible on the right bank. European 
embattlements, dockyards and arsenals, the buildings of the Franciscan 
convent and the high towers of the cathedral and of the other churches 
showed at first glance that here Christianity had gained a great victory 
over the heathen. 

On landing, Xavier surveyed with astonishment the motley crowds 
which surged through the streets, crying and singing, between elephants 
and sacred cows ; white, brown and black forms in long garments and 
caftans; peasants and traders; Arabs, Persians and Hindus from 
Gujarat and Ormuz; between them, walking about under huge parasols, 


the conquerors, the Portuguese hildagos in gorgeous garments of taf- 
feta, silk and costly stuffs ; they were followed by countless pages and 
troops of Kafir slaves. Everywhere on the walls great notices proclaimed 
where and when indulgences could be gained, and at what time the vari- 
ous festivals of the church took place. 

Xavier's way led first in front of the cathedral, and here the magni- 
tude of the triumph of Catholicism in these distant lands was macte 
manifest to him. He saw the rich and distinguished personages of the 
city passing by in their palanquins ; splendid sedan chairs made their way 
through the crowd, and out of them stepped dark-skinned ladies, loaded 
with precious stones, with painted faces, and feet in high-heeled shoes. 
Pages hurried quickly into the cathedral, and, while they spread out the 
rugs they had brought with them and placed the gilded seats and the 
prayerbooks in readiness, the ladies, followed by their children and 
maidservants, moved proudly to their places. 

But there were also crowds of those peculiar people whose clothes 
and colour proclaimed that they were natives. They too wore heavy 
rosaries round their necks, and bowed the head piously when they passed 
through the portals of the church. 

Pride and joy filled the missionary's heart, at the thought that, after so 
long a journey of many thousand miles, he had found in the land of the 
heathen a second capital of Christendom. Xavier wrote joyfully of his 
first impressions gained by a tour of the city : "Goa is entirely populated 
by Christians. . . . We must be very thankful to the Lord God that the 
name of Christ flourishes so splendidly on this distant soil and among 
these hordes of unbelievers!" 

This delight, however, was to last but a short time, for, when Xavier 
became better acquainted with the land and with its Christian rulers and 
the natives, he was forced to recognize that he had been deceived by the 
high European embattlements, the cathedrals and the throng of wor- 
shippers at the church doors. 

When Pope Alexander VI laid down the lines of demarcation in the 
Far East which were to bound the Portuguese colonial territory, he com- 
manded the king "to bring worthy, God-fearing men into the newly dis- 
covered continents and isles," who might "instruct the inhabitants of 
these regions in the Catholic faith and in good morals." But, actually, the 
Europeans who made their way to India were almost without exception 
adventurers and speculators, eager for spoils, who thought of nothing 
but winning wealth quickly and unscrupulously. 

It was true that every day there was word of the many conversions 


among the heathen, but closer inquiry led to doubt whether all was well, 
for the Portuguese priests might baptize whole hordes of natives, but, as 
these did not understand their language, they had to dispense with any 
preliminary religious instruction. The people, for their part, went pas- 
sively through the ritual of baptism, and then proceeded peacefully to 
their accustomed temples to do reverence to their elephant gods, lion 
gods, ape gods and the like. 

The worst feature, however, was the behaviour of the Portuguese 
colonial officials, who fawned on the rich heathen, and, for suitable com- 
pensation, reserved for them the most influential places in the adminis- 
tration, and allowed them to oppress the newly baptized natives. 

On all hands, wherever Xavier journeyed in Christian India, the same 
picture confronted him : everywhere great churches, governors' palaces 
and custom houses were rising above the reed huts and wooden houses 
of the native towns, and crowds of Europeans and natives could always 
be seen in the cathedral. Yet everywhere the natives sought their idols 
in the ape and elephant temples, and everywhere the colonial officials were 

When Xavier had learnt to know the behaviour of these Portuguese 
officials to whom the evangelization of India was entrusted, he wrote to 
the king at Lisbon : "Unless you threaten your officials with chains, 
prison, and confiscation of goods and actually carry out the threat, all 
your commands for the furtherance of Christianity in India will be in 
vain. It is torture to look on patiently at the way your captains and other 
officials ill-treat the new converts !" 

Thus the Jesuit missionary soon saw that a large part of his task would 
be to convert to Christianity, in the first place, the Christians who were 
living in India, and he had already learnt in Europe how hard it was to 
win Christians for Christ. 

" He had, however, learnt at the same time how often, in order to attain 
a pious end, it was necessary to proceed with "holy cunning" ; accord- 
ingly, after his arrival, he conducted himself towards the resident clergy 
with that wise submission which his master Ignatius had usually em- 
ployed in such cases. Although he carried with him a papal brief, which 
gave him the rank of legate, and thus placed him above all the clergy in 
India, he waited humbly on the bishop, fell on his knees before him, and 
entreated him to regard him as the humblest fellow-labourer in the work 
of Christian evangelization, and to dispose of him entirely at his good 

And, while the other priests of Goa lived in splendid houses, he, the 


papal legate, took up his dwelling in a modest little room at the hospital. 
He could, however, have scarcely found a more suitable quarter for his 
work, for here from the very first day he came into touch with all classes 
of men, and learned to know them in the condition in which they were 
readiest for spiritual exhortation. All of them brutal soldiers, greedy 
officials, superstitious idolaters, proud lords of commerce and poor slaves 
in the hospital showed themselves quite ready to talk with the worthy 
priest, and to let him console them in their affliction. Even when they re- 
turned cured to their homes, there nearly always remained in their hearts 
a memory of Xavier' s edifying words. 

The spiritual conversations of the missionary, with the oppressed and 
ill-treated slaves especially, were for the most part entirely concerned 
with their future life. The Christianity of which the foreign priest spoke 
sounded to them like a promise of future bliss, which should be the best 
compensation for all their sufferings on earth. Xavier, who had come to 
them in his simple dress, spoken to them with gentle, homely words, and 
sympathized fully with their smallest troubles, soon seemed to them like 
one of themselves. 

Accordingly, they helped him in his labours as best they could, and in- 
formed him secretly of the conduct, deeds, vices and misdemeanours of 
their masters. In this way, Xavier had opportunity to obtain accurate in- 
formation on the life, character, interests and peculiarities of the peo- 
ple whom he wanted to convert. He knew, before he visited a house, 
whether he had to do with men who were living polygamously with na- 
tive women, or whether with those who practised usury, committed 
deeds of violence, used their offices for shameless extortion, or ill-treated 
their slaves. When one or other entertained him, Xavier always appeared 
to have the same interests as his host. If the host was a merchant, he 
discussed eagerly with him the state of business and the possibilities of 
acquiring more wealth ; in the usurer's home, he showed an astonishingly 
expert knowledge of all forms of credit undertakings, and knew how to 
perform the most complicated calculations of interest ; on the other hand, 
if his host was a mariner, he conversed with him on nautical and astro- 
nomical questions, so that the host had immediate confidence in him. Of- 
ficers, again, were astounded to find how much at home this simple priest 
was with military problems, and what professional questions he could 
put. Everyone listened to him with interest and attention, and he was in- 
vited again and again. 

Neither did he forget the members of the domestic staff : he praised 
the maid who brought in the food, and, after the meal, asked to be al- 


lowed to speak to the cook and talked to her about cooking, and, when 
the servant showed him to the door at his departure, he questioned him 
sympathetically on his personal circumstances, aspirations and troubles. 
Only after a long time, when masters and men had already taken him to 
their hearts, did he come to speak, with caution and in a casual, light- 
hearted manner, of his own ends. Then he sought to convince the usurer 
that there were other less questionable and equally profitable methods of 
business ; he made the harsh exploiter realize that slaves would work far 
more willingly and better if they were not so inhumanly treated ; he spoke 
cautiously of the disadvantages of polygamy, and drew an attractive 
picture of the pleasures of the well-ordered, proper marriage state. So 
he carried on his missionary work, and, true to the teaching of his spirit- 
ual father, Ignatius, became all things to all men th^t he might gain all. 

Nor did he hesitate to enter the most notorious sailors' taverns. Some- 
times it happened that the roisterers made as if to stop their game out of 
respect for the priest, and he would tell them kindly not to disturb them- 
selves on his account, as soldiers and sailors wers not required to live as 
monks ; he would sit down beside the gamesters and tipplers and follow 
their amusements with interest. 

What a stern zealot could never have accomplished with these rough 
folk, the boon-companion achieved with no difficulty ; they became so ac- 
customed to telling him their hopes and fears, that soon they were willing 
to confess to him as well. 

Once, on a sea voyage from Goa to the south of India, he heard a sailor 
who had just lost his all at play cursing horribly. Xavier went up to him, 
offered him some money, and told him to try his luck again. This time the 
sailor won, and Xavier did not lose the opportunity of making thaplay- 
er's cheerful mood the occasion for an edifying discourse, just as Ig- 
natius had once made a game of billiards the occasion for directing a 
student's attention to the exercises. 

In the instructions which Xavier left later to his helper and successor, 
Barzaeus, he himself describes the methods which he followed in India. 
He exhorts Barzaeus to deal with everyone adroitly and with presence of 
mind, and so to win the necessary respect of all sorts and conditions of 
men : "Let the moneyed people see that you are just as well versed in 
everyday affairs as they are ; then they will feel admiration and confi- 
dence; otherwise the priest's admonitions will merely be derided. 

"Take pains from the very first to find out," Xavier continues, "what 
kinds of business are carried on at each place, and what are the manners 
and customs of the land and the neighbourhood. . . . Find out, too, to 


what sins the people are prone, to what end sermons and the confessional 
should be directed. . . . Make yourself informed also on the more com- 
mon legal cases, frauds, perjuries and briberies. . . . 

'Talk privately to the sinners about their faults, speaking always with 
a smile, without solemnity and in an amicable and friendly tone. Accord- 
ing to the personality concerned, embrace the one and behave deferen- 
tially to the other. ... If you wish to bring forth good fruits in your 
own soul and your neighbour's, consort constantly with sinners so that 
they may gain confidence and open their hearts to you. Hearts are the 
living books, which are more eloquent than any dead book, and which you 
must study. . . ." 

With the Pearl-Fishers and Rajahs 

In the far south of India there lived the Paravas, a race of about 
twenty thousand souls who gained a scanty livelihood from the pearl- 
fisheries. In 1530, thes^ Paravas were attacked by a wild Mohammedan 
tribe, and, in their desperate state, they decided to appeal to the Portu- 
guese for help. 

A deputation of pearl-fishers made its way to Goa, and announced that, 
if the Portuguese would rid them of the Mohammedans, they were ready 
in a body to embrace the faith of the Europeans. The viceroy was satis- 
fied with this arrangement, and merely stipulated for an annual tribute of 
two boat-loads of pearls. 

Immediately, a Portuguese flotilla appeared off Cape Comorin, and 
drove off the marauding Mohammedans ; thereupon, the Catholic priests, 
undei^he leadership of the vicar-general of the country, landed from the 
flotilla to baptize the tribe. The Paravas assembled from far and near, 
and arrayed themselves in readiness, then the priests said something in 
Latin which the pearl-fishers did not understand, and every one of the 
Paravas answered something in Tamil which the priests did not under- 
stand. The necessary ceremonies were quickly performed, pieces of paper 
bearing Portuguese baptismal names were distributed among the people, 
and the flotilla with the vicar-general and the other ecclesiastics on board 
returned to Goa. But the Portuguese colonial officials could report to 
their king with pride that they had succeeded in saving a further twenty 
thousand souls from eternal damnation and bringing them into Holy 

From this date, the Paravas paid their tribute every year, and the white 
men, for their part, saw to it that the Mohammedan raiders kept far from 


the pearl coast. But beyond this, the Paravas could continue peacefully 
to follow their ancient customs ; never again did a Christian priest ap- 
pear in these regions, and the only memento which bound the Paravas to 
their change of faith was the piece of paper on which an incompre- 
hensible name was written in incomprehensible characters. 

When Francis Xavier arrived in Goa, eight years had already passed 
since this conversion of the pearl-fishers ; it was eight years, too, since a 
priest had last been among the newly born community in the south. 

The poor, palm-roofed huts of this people lay directly behind Cape 
Comorin on a bare, barren stretch of coast, whose burning sand dunes 
were but sparsely covered with thickets of thorn and with fan-palms. 
Here, in little villages, lived the Paravas, lean, sinewy people with dark 
skins. Day after day, they set forth at sunrise in their tiny boats with sails 
shaped like swallows' tails, to return at sunset to their reed huts, with 
their booty of pearls. 

At Tuticorin, the chief town of the district, there were still the old, 
heathen temples with coloured idols, bright red-and-white painted clay 
heaps, clay horses, stone altars with sacred snakes, bulls, cows and apes ; 
and, in the little villages too, there were on all hands countless grotesque 
and obscene symbols of the ancient faith to which the pearl-fishers had 
for centuries belonged. 

The baptized Paravas visited these shrines, and, when they went in 
fear of the fire-spirits which danced over the sea at evening-time, fore- 
boding ill, they hurried to make offerings of fishes to their gods or to 
build new temples of clay and reeds. 

One day Xavier appeared among them, barefooted, wearing a gar- 
ment patched a hundred times and with a shabby cowl of black wool on 
his head. He carried a little bell in his hand, rang it incessantly, and called 
to them in Tamil, with a strange accent ; it sounded like "Come here, 
come here, I have good news for you !" 

While he was still in Goa, Xavier had had some sermons and prayers 
translated into Tamil by interpreters, and had with great pains learned 
them by heart. Now, travelling through the villages of the Paravas, he 
attracted the native children to him with his little bell, taught them the 
catechism, showed them how to pray and to sing an Ave ; and the chil- 
dren did what they were told as readily as if it had been a new game. 

It was the children, too, who helped him the most in his campaign 
against the heathen idols. They were happy and gleeful to find that, un- 
der the guidance of the white priest, they could destroy the statues of the 
old gods to their hearts' desire. Xavier wrote joyfully to his brothers at 




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home : "When cases of idol-worship are reported to me, I collect all the 
children of the place and go with them to the place where the idols are. 
The calumnies which the devil receives from the children outweigh the 
honour shown him by the adult heathen. For the children take the 
images, beat them to dust, finer than ashes, spit on them, tread them un- 
derfoot, and insult them yet more grossly." 

Soon the whole purpose of the children was to inspire their parents too 
with enthusiasm for the strange man, and what had happened in the city 
with the Portuguese lords and their slaves happened now with the pearl- 
fishers : they grew to love Xavier, trusted him implicitly, and saw in him 
at the same time a higher being ; for, since his bell rang at evening-time 
and his strange words of an invisible God, of the kingdom of the blessed 
in heaven, and of the place of the damned deep under the earth, resounded 
over the land, the fishers no longer saw the dreaded fire-spirits disport- 
ing themselves over the waves. It seemed to them that his bell had ex- 
orcized the eerie apparition. 

After the mission to the fisheries had been begun with such success, 
Xavier visited in turn all the territory of the Portuguese colonies in 
India. Soon he was journeying along the coasts through deserts where 
the hot sand scorched the feet, and then again through impenetrable, 
primeval forests. His wonderful gift for languages had made it possible 
for him to become tolerably acquainted, in a short time, with the Malay 
language which was commonly understood in Further India. Wherever 
his path led him, he sought to preach, and, for the purpose, he utilized 
every case in point which might bring clearly before his hearers the power 
of God and the danger of eternal damnation. Thus, on the island of 
Homoro, which was covered with volcanoes, he said that these were the 
chimneys of hell, and that down below, in the place from which the 
poisonous smoke arose, the idol-worshippers were burning for ever. 

In those days, mass conversions to Christianity in exchange for Portu- 
guese military protection, begun with the Paravas, had become popular 
throughout India. Thus, when the prince of Kandy in Ceylon was threat- 
ened by neighbouring peoples, he asked for Portuguese troops, and 
promised in return the conversion of his whole people. He made fairly 
high demands for military assistance, for he could appeal to the fact that 
in his principality was the celebrated rock on which Buddha's footprint 
could still be plainly seen, and that in a pagoda in the capital was cher- 
ished a tooth of the Sublime One. This being so, the prince was willing 
to renounce the faith of his fathers only at the price of a strong con- 
tingent of troops. 


As was customary, there arrived in Kandy with the white soldiers 
monks who immediately baptized the prince and the people. But, when 
the hostile Mohammedan tribes had been beaten off and the Portuguese 
expeditionary force had left Ceylon again, the prince immediately re- 
turned to the old faith and had the temple containing Buddha's tooth re- 

A year later, however, at the time when Xavier was in South India, 
the ruler was once more involved in a military conflict, and again 
urgently needed Portuguese support. Xavier's fame had already reached 
Ceylon, and the prince besought him to intercede with the governor 
of Groa. Xavier readily agreed to do this, and he himself accompanied the 
Portuguese forces to Kandy, and endeavoured to reconvert the people. 

Here again he made use of the children to put an end once for all to 
idol worship. At his bidding, they broke into the famous temple and pur- 
loined Buddha's tooth, and they also worked eagerly rubbing down the 
sacred rock until the footprint of the saint could hardly be seen any 

Other rulers too invited to their courts the missionary who knew so 
well how to deal with the Portuguese authorities, for again and again it 
became necessary to put down local unrest with the help of the Europeans. 
Where this was the case, Xavier appeared also, so that, in exchange for 
the military assistance, he might call together with his bell the inhabi- 
tants of the principality concerned for instruction in the catechism. 

After six years of activity in India, Xavier had made for himself a 
large sphere of work. At the beginning of the year 1549, he wrote to 
Ignatius: "At this moment, members of our Society are living in all 
parts of India where there are Christians. There are four on the Moluc- 
cas, two in Malacca, six at Cape Comorin, two in Cochin, two in Bassein, 
and four on the island of Sokotra. Each group is directed by a superior." 

His letters took a year, by the long sea-route, to reach home. When 
such a letter reached Europe, it meant a festival for Catholic Christen- 
dom, so straitly pressed by heresy. 

King John of Portugal was enraptured by the success of the mission 
which he had himself inaugurated and commanded. He sent Xavier's 
letters to Spain, where, by order of the Archbishop of Toledo, they were 
read from all the pulpits. 

"We are now known throughout Spain," wrote Peter Faber to Igna- 
tius. "Where formerly no one had heard of us, or where we had been 
slanderously criticized, there is now, thanks be to God, no longer any 
place, no palace, no prison and no hospital where anyone, rich or poor, 


noble or commoner, learned or ignorant, woman or child, does not know 
how we live and what is the object of our order/' 

The Dream of Chinquinquo 

Since the time when Marco Polo brought to Europe the first news of 
an island empire to the east of China, this distant country had occupied 
the mind of many a merchant and priest. At a later date, a Portuguese 
trading ship was driven by a storm on to the Japanese coast, and thence- 
forward a tentative trade between India and Japan was carried on. But, 
as neither party understood the other's speech, goods were always ex- 
changed by dumb show, and the mystery surrounding this land was still 

One day there appeared at Malacca, the most easterly port of 
Portuguese India, a Japanese by name Anjiro. This man had committed 
a murder in his native land, and had fled from the Japanese authorities 
on a Portuguese ship which lay at anchor in his home town of Kago- 
shima. For a large monetary consideration, the captain brought him to 
Malacca, and, on the way, Anjiro heard much from the sailors about the 
Christian faith, about heaven and hell, repentance, the forgiveness of 
sins and eternal salvation. The Japanese youth, with a murder on his 
conscience, was soon filled with a burning desire to embrace Christianity, 
and to obtain pardon for his sin in this new religion. 

When, on one of his journeys, Xavier revisited Malacca, Anjiro 
sought him out and implored him for absolution of his sins in the name 
of the Christian God. The missionary saw before him a man who had 
committed a murder and was threatened by hell ; only through the power 
of the one Church which held the keys of heaven could this poor heathen 
be saved. He baptized Anjiro without delay, and gave him the name of 
"Paul of the Holy Faith." 

His acquaintance with Anjiro opened up to Xavier new, wide vistas. 
The Japanese told him much about the religion of his countrymen, and 
said that this was the faith of the whole heathen world in Eastern Ask*. 
"According to the information which Paul has given me," Xavier wrote 
at the time to the brothers in Europe, "China, Japan and Tatary follow 
a common religious system, which is taught in a city called Chinquinquo. 
Paul himself does not understand the language in which this religious 
system is set down ; it is, he says, a language which, like Latin with us, is 
used only for religious books. He can give us no information concerning 
the contents of these books," 


This religious system of which Anjiro had spoken was the law of 
Buddha, and the sacred books were the writings of northern Buddhism. 
The language which, like Latin, was understood only by the initiated, 
was Sanskrit. With regard to the mysterious Chinquinquo, Xavier 
thought that it was a collection of high schools, a kind of "Asiatic 
Rome," and as such the centre of the whole religious life of Eastern 

Xavier purposed to make his way to this centre to destroy, with the 
weapons of the true faith, the false doctrine under whose shadow lay 
Japan, China and Tatary. "We shall have there to oppose ourselves to 
learned men," he wrote, "but the truth of Christ will lead us to victory." 
Where this mysterious city Chinquinquo really was, Anjiro himself 
could not clearly say. 

"When I asked Anjiro whether the Japanese would embrace Chris- 
tianity after I arrived," Xavier continued, "he replied that this would not 
happen immediately. His countrymen would begin by asking me ques- 
tions, and would then reflect on my answers, and would carefully prove 
whether my life corresponded to my teaching. But, if I satisfied them on 
both these points, by giving them convincing answers and endeavouring 
to live a blameless life, then within six months the king, the nobles, and 
all enlightened people would be willing to be baptized." 

Xavier had now learned sufficient about the mentality of the Japanese 
to know that it would be necessary to demonstrate the superiority of the 
Christian faith over the heathen "law" with the whole art of dialectic, 
for Anjiro had always said that the Japanese could be convinced and won 
over only by reason. 

The first thing to do was to secure an audience with this "king" of 
Japan, to convince him by the art of dialectic of the unique truth of 
Christianity, and thereby to win with one blow the whole island realm 
for the Catholic faith. From Japan, a way into the rigidly closed coun- 
try of China might be opened, for the "kings" of Japan and of China, 
Anjiro assured him, were firm friends ; an introduction from the Japa- 
nese ruler might, therefore, secure his entry into that "Middle King- 
dom," surrounded by its great, impenetrable wall, from which foreigners 
were usually excluded on pain of death. 

What especially strengthened Xavier's hopes, however, were the 
peculiar points of resemblance which, according to what Anjiro told 
him, existed between the faith of the Japanese and the Christian religion. 
Anjiro told him of monks who lived, celibate, in monasteries with com- 
mon refectories, kept strict fasts and performed nocturnal devotions. 


They spoke their own language, which was not understood by the peo- 
ple, preached often, believed in one God, were under obedience to an ab- 
bot, and led a virtuous life. Moreover, they taught that there was a hell, 
a purgatory, and a heaven, and, in honouring their countless saints, they 
were not worshipping idols, for, like the Catholics, they only besought 
the saints to intercede for them with the one almighty God. 

When Xavier heard all this, he immediately wondered whether the 
Gospel had not already been preached in those lands in time out of mind, 
and whether the religion of the Japanese was not a kind of Christianity, 
debased by heathen additions. In any case, he thought that, with such con- 
siderable similarities between the two religions, it would not be difficult 
to win the Japanese over to the one true doctrine. 

With Anjiro's help, he eagerly set about learning the Japanese lan- 
guage. He had the most important articles of the Christian faith trans- . 
lated into Japanese, and learnt them by heart. He took with him three 
members of his order who had in the meantime arrived in Asia, and with 
them and Anjiro he crossed over in a Chinese junk. 

After a long voyage fraught with adventures and dangers, the Japa- 
nese coast came at last in sight. On Ascension Day in the year 1549, 
Francis Xavier landed at Kagoshima, Anjiro's native town, and im- 
mediately wrote to Europe in triumph : "God has brought us to the land 
of our heart's desire." 

Never before had a native of Kagoshima crossed the sea, and, accord- 
ingly, Anjiro was received by his countrymen with admiring envy. No- 
body mentioned the murder which had caused his flight; the general 
impatience to know what was to be seen and heard in the distant "Land of 
the Southern Barbarians" was too great. 

The arrival of Xavier and his white companions naturally aroused 
even greater astonishment. Xavier had hardly settled down in the house 
of Anjiro's parents, before there arrived crowds of Japanese men and 
women, in long, gaily coloured garments, put on one on top of the other, 
and with coloured paper sunshades, and with them came close-cropped 
Japanese priests in white robes. 

From morning until evening, the house was filled with visitors, and 
everyone had so much to ask that no one would let his neighbour speak. 
Soon, too, the prince, the powerful Daimyo Shimatsu Takahisa, sent one 
of his court officials, and had the strangers invited to the castle. 

Thanks to certain Portuguese merchants who had once visited Kago- 
shima, the daimyo knew of the existence of cannon, and, in the troublous 
times through which Japan was passing, cannon seemed to him of no little 


importance for the safety of his throne. But many other valuable products 
were sold by the Portuguese, who, moreover, provided a ready and lucra- 
tive market for many goods produced by Japan. When, therefore, the 
daimyo heard that the foreign priest was held in high honour by the Por- 
tuguese, he surmised that his residence in Kagoshima would have a 
favourable effect on trade. He received the missionary, therefore, with all 
those ceremonies which were customary in giving audience to an im- 
portant and powerful personage. 

Xavier was led to the state-room of the castle, where the daimyo, sur- 
rounded by his household, sat on a raised dais, while the lower officials 
reclined round about on the floor and awaited his commands. Shimatsu 
Takahisa politely invited the guest to seat himself on a mat at his feet, 
and then for three hours without ceasing he asked him questions : what 
were the customs of the Europeans, and in particular whether they had 
many ships, goods, cannon and soldiers. At each of Xavier's answers, 
which Anjiro translated into Japanese, the prince was overcome by re- 
spectful astonishment. 

When, in conclusion, Xavier produced a beautifully bound prayer- 
book and presented it to the daimyo, the latter announced solemnly that 
he would cherish with great care the book containing the Christian law 
and would have its contents explained to him ; if this law was really good, 
he would accept it. 

On being commanded to ask for a present in return, Xavier aston- 
ished the whole court by refusing, with thanks, to accept any gift, and 
asking instead to be allowed the favour of freedom to preach, a favour 
which the daimyo immediately granted. Only when Xavier made the 
further request that the daimyo would make it possible for him shortly 
to journey on to the "king" of Japan did Shimatsu Takahisa find him- 
self to some extent in a dilemma. He was unwilling to part so soon with 
this holy man whose presence might attract Portuguese trading vessels 
to Kagoshima, so he made an evasive answer, and put Xavier off to a 
more favourable opportunity. 

When the rich and distinguished inhabitants of Kagoshima saw with 
what respect their ruler had received the stranger, they immediately in- 
vited him, one after another, to their houses, and, before long, an earnest 
court official actually embraced Christianity ; his subordinates, with their 
families, followed his example, and soon it was the fashion in good soci- 
ety in Kagoshima to converse with Xavier on religious matters and to be 
converted by him. 

But, with the common people as well, the missionary gained much sue- 


cess. He had, in the meantime, materially improved his knowledge of the 
Japanese language, and was now able to read out from a notebook a num- 
ber of sermons in Japanese. Twice a day, he sought out the most popular 
streets, sat down on the edge of a well, brought out his notebook, and 
began to preach. On returning to his house, he was usually followed by 
a crowd of inquirers, who carried on eager discussions with him until 
late at night. 

"These Japanese are so curious," wrote Father Torres, one of Xavier's 
companions at the time, "that since our arrival not a day has passed with- 
out priests and laymen coming from morning till night to ask us all sorts 
of questions." 

For the first time, the Japanese learned of a God who created the world 
in seven days, of a Son of God who became man and died on the Cross, 
of a Last Judgment, of heaven and eternal damnation. But the Japanese 
marvelled yet more at the explanations which Xavier was able to give of 
the universal forces of nature. The Japanese were not quite clear how the 
world had really come into being : according to one tradition, the world 
consisted of an egg which was broken to pieces in a storm the white 
of the egg became the sky, the yolk became the sea and the shell the dry 
land. The writings of other sages, again, described the creation of the 
world in quite a different way, and so the people did not know exactly 
what to think. 

Xavier, however, could explain to his astonished listeners the course 
of the sun, the appearance of comets, the phases of the moon, solar 
eclipses, and the various meteorological phenomena in a completely 
new and illuminating way. "Our answers," he wrote to Europe, "were 
much to their liking ; they accepted us as good sages, and this helped us 
in our work of conversion." 

However highly he appreciated the Japanese thirst for knowledge, 
however, he sometimes became thoroughly weary of this eternal, tireless 
curiosity. What did the Christian God really look like, they inquired, was 
he red, gilded, black or green like the Buddhist idols, had he a long nose, 
was he tall of stature and of a terrible countenance, or was he, on the 
other hand, beautiful like Shaka and Amida, and seated on a lotus leaf? 
Xavier had to explain that God had neither form nor colour, but was a 
pure Substance, and, as such, was different from all the elements which 
He Himself had created. 

But from what material had God made the human soul ? What was the 
appearance, the form and the colour of this soul ? Why had God endowed 
man with a propensity for evil ? Why was it so difficult to reach heaven ? 


Why had God only revealed His law to man at such a late date ? What 
happened to those people who were not intelligent enough to apprehend 

Many of these questions put even Xavier, the accomplished student of 
dialectic of the University of Paris, in a painful predicament. The con- 
nexion of God with the problem of evil was a particularly delicate ques- 
tion. How was it to be explained that the good Creator had also created 
evil spirits ? When Xavier answered that the devils had originally been 
good, and had become evil through their own fault, and were accord- 
ingly punished by God through all eternity, the Japanese at once objected 
that a good God would surely not leave mankind in the power of evil 
spirits. Xavier's statement that the pains of hell were eternal, and that 
from them there was no redemption, likewise always produced great 
objections. Many of the Japanese argued that the God of the Christians 
could not be merciful if He delivered to eternal damnation all those peo- 
ple who had learnt nothing of Him. "To answer them to their satisfac- 
tion," wrote Torres, regarding these discussions, "you must be clever and 
cautious. . . . These Japanese are very sharp-witted." 

Here, therefore, Xavier saw before him a much more difficult task 
than had confronted him in India ; a few only could be reached by means 
of the homely little bell, and the demonstration of the volcanoes, which 
had so deeply impressed the Malays, could not be applied in Japan, where 
it was necessary to vanquish the understanding of men eager for knowl- 
edge, to give explanations on the subtlest questions, and to bring into 
play all the weapons of a mind practised in scholastic dialectic. 

But the man who in Goa had in a few weeks' time penetrated all the 
tricks of the pepper trade, who had made himself conversant with 
strategy and seamanship, so as to win over merchant or officer or sailor 
for Christ, soon discovered with what rejoinders he should meet the ob- 
jections and difficulties of the disputatious Japanese. His former fellow- 
students from the College of Saint Barbara would have been speechless 
with admiration, could they have heard him arguing with the greatest 
possible dexterity with his Japanese opponents. 

Nor were his efforts without success, for, as Xavier reported to 
Europe, "if you can explain reasonably the compatibility of the existence 
of evil with God's omnipotence, and the necessity for the incarnation of 
God, the battle here is half won." 

When a Japanese was once converted, however, he immediately 
became an eager professor of the new faith. Instead of constantly pro- 
nouncing the name of the god Amida, as heretofore, the neophytes bap- 


tized by Xavier were just as constant in the repetition of the names of 
Jesus and Mary. In place of the holy water in which the emperor had 
bathed his feet, they honoured the holy water blessed by Xavier ; instead 
of the Buddhist rosary, they used the Catholic. Whereas formerly they 
had been wont to receive from their priests, for money given in alms, 
pieces of paper on which they were assured that in another life the ex- 
pended amount would be doubly and trebly repaid, they were now just as 
eager to obtain Roman indulgences. 

It looked, indeed, as if the high hopes with which Xavier had set out 
on his missionary journey to Japan would not be disappointed. Every 
day produced new Japanese who declared themselves ready to accept the 
Christian faith. 

The sovereign, however, as time went on, began to be a little doubtful 
about Xavier. Had he not somewhat overestimated the significance of 
this stranger from the land of the "Southern Barbarians" ? Month after 
month went by, without the arrival of the desired Portuguese trading 
vessels at Kagoshima. The daimyo therefore had it proclaimed one day 
to the people that from henceforth further conversions to Christianity 
would be punishable by death. 

During the course of his later experiences in Japan, Xavier had, there- 
fore, already learnt to appreciate the value of Portuguese trading ves- 
sels to missionary enterprise, and he took particular care to make the 
arrival of such vessels serve his evangelistic work. As often as he heard 
that a Portuguese ship had arrived at any Japanese port, he hurried there 
forthwith and took care that the captain and seamen prepared a cere- 
monial reception for him with a display of flags and a salute of cannon. 

Moreover, he knew how to draw the right conclusions from his ob- 
servations, and in many respects to alter his appearance according to the 
customs of the land. In India, where his main task was to win the poor 
and humble lower castes, he always wore his torn cassock and a shabby 
woollen cowl. In Japan, however, this made no impression, for here peo- 
ple admired splendid silken robes and pomp and ceremony. So Xavier 
put on the most magnificent apparel he could have made for him, and 
went about with an imposing following of servants. 

There is hardly another Christian priest who has given such proof of 
genuine humility as this very Francis Xavier, but in Japan humility was 
of no account ; here the missionary had to show pride and arrogance if 
he wished to make an impression on princes and people. These were not 
people, he reported, who regarded modesty as praiseworthy ; on the con- 
trary, they valued only him who knew how to conduct himself as proudly 


and nobly as they themselves did. So, in this land, where humility called 
forth nothing but contempt, he put on the "mask of pride." 

Once in Yamaguchi it happened that, after his reception by the daimyo, 
Xavier was surrounded in front of the palace by a threatening mob and 
overwhelmed with abuse. The nobleman of Navarre found no difficulty 
in confronting the howling mob with the greatest arrogance and provoca- 
tive contempt. He briskly called to account a samurai who had shouted 
an insult at him, and poured forth on him such invective that the man, 
finding himself shouted down, fell silent. It was immediately proclaimed 
in the crowd that the stranger really seemed to be a distinguished man, 
and perhaps his teaching was not after all so bad as had been at first 

At the Court of the Great Voo 

For the whole of the time he was preaching Christianity at the courts 
of the daimyos and in the streets and market-places, Xavier never for an 
instant lost sight of his real object that he had come to convert the ruler 
of all Japan. 

Everything that the people in the south could tell him of the imperial 
residence, Miyako, only increased his desire to reach it, for it was said 
that the capital also contained a great university "very similar to the 
University of Paris/' Here was obviously one of the most important 
seats of paganism in East Asia. Xavier, therefore, constantly urged that 
he should be allowed to continue his journey as quickly as possible, and 
longed for the great, decisive minute when he should at last appear be- 
fore the "king." 

He had landed at the extreme south of the island realm of Japan, and, 
to reach the residence of Miyako from there, five hundred miles had to 
be traversed, partly by ship, partly by neglected roads over high moun- 
tain chains and through dangerous districts, infested with robbers and 
marauding troops. The time of year was as unfavourable as possible, for 
the winter was unusually severe, so that the traveller was often com- 
pelled to wade through snow up to the knees. Xavier overcame all ob- 
stacles, and was, moreover, always in good spirits : he jumped for joy 
like a little child when Miyako came at last in sight. The imperial city, 
the Kyoto of the present day, appeared to the stranger like a sea of black 
roofs, overtopped by high temples and towers, surrounded by snow- 
covered mountains. 

Xavier believed that he had at last reached the goal of his hopes, 


whereas, in reality, a surfeit of the bitterest disillusion awaited him. As 
soon as he entered the city, he noticed that houses and streets showed un- 
mistakable signs of the disturbances of war, and gave a comfortless im- 
pression of decay and poverty. For the year-long, embittered strife 
between rival noble houses had laid waste the whole city ; the dwelling- 
houses of the nobles and even the pagodas had been changed into fortifi- 
cations and surrounded with barricades and trenches ; in between them, 
deserted, smoke-blackened ruins bore witness to rapine and plundering. 

The mysterious high school, where Xavier had purposed to teach the 
Christian doctrine, proved to be deserted ; the convents of the priests were 
empty, for even the monks were eager partisans. After wandering about 
all day in the death-like city, Xaxier at last succeeded in discovering the 
palace of Gosho, where dwelt the sublime Emperor, Go-Nara. 

The Great Voo was venerated as the descendant of the sun-goddess, 
Amaterasu; living in retirement in his harem, he showed himself but 
seldom to his court, who, when he did appear, greeted him in silence, 
prostrate on the ground. The spotless purity of the emperor was held to 
be sullied if an ordinary man so much as looked at him. He never left his 
palace, for he could not set foot on the ground without defiling himself. 
Every day, his women brought him new garments ; his food was brought 
to him in porcelain vessels, fresh each day from the furnace and broken 
after being once used. 

Xavier requested one of the court officials to secure him an audience 
with the Voo ; he was commissioned to convey to the ruler a message 
from the pope, the mighty lord of Christendom; he had brought from 
his native land marvellous gifts in token of respect. The court official 
said that he would do his best, but that, in any case, the decision would 
take some time ; in the meantime, the stranger was welcome to his hos- 

When Xavier inquired about the correct ceremonial to be observed at 
an audience, the official, who found the guest to his liking, began to tell 
him exactly how things were at court, and how the emperor lived. Xavier 
learnt, to his amazement, that the Voo, the sublime Son of God on the 
Japanese throne, was venerated as if he were himself a god, but that, 
since the feudal lords had deprived him of all power, he was no more than 
an idol, without any influence or the smallest political significance. 

Go-Nara, the descendant of the sun-goddess, Amaterasu, was actually 
short of money, because, owing to the civil war, taxes were no longer 
regularly paid. He had not even means enough to repair the broken-down 
walls of the palace, and the people could, therefore, peer through the great 


cracks and rents ; as, however, the ceremonial commanded that the em- 
peror should always be protected from rude glances, there was nothing 
for it but for the court officials to surround him with paper screens. 

As heretofore, his meals were brought to the Voo in porcelain dishes, 
which were broken after being used, but the food on these dishes was 
poor and scanty. The Voo was even compelled to earn money by the work 
of his own hands, copying music for rich connoisseurs. 

As his clients might not see the emperor face to face, they placed the 
sum to be paid behind a curtain of the audience chamber, and returned 
some time later to fetch the emperor's manuscript. If it ever became 
necessary for his customer to speak personally with the emperor con- 
cerning the price of the copy, he had to take great care that throughout 
the audience he never looked on the sublime Son of God. 

The loquacious court official also told the missionary of the hard case 
of the hungry princesses and court ladies, who were often compelled to 
beg sweet potatoes of the street-traders through the breaches in the palace 

Xavier heard these sad tidings with genuine emotion and felt a lively 
sympathy for the ruler's straitened circumstances. He had, however, a 
higher task before him, and was obliged to draw the proper practical 
conclusions from this surprising news. 

His firm intention was to win the whole of Japan and China for the 
Catholic Church, and, for this purpose, an emperor was of no use to him 
who, albeit so sublime that no one might look upon him, had to support 
himself by writing, whose court begged potatoes for food, and from 
whom the ground, on which he was not permitted to set foot, had long 
since been reft away by powerful insurgents. 

So the missionary asked the court official who really exercised au- 
thority over Japan, if not the emperor. He learned that it was the shogun, 
the general-in-chief, who ruled the land. When he sought to discover 
more about the shogun, however, it appeared that the present general-in- 
chief, Ashinaka Tashiteru, was a fifteen-year-old boy, who was of no 
account and who was at the moment fleeing from his enemies. The of- 
ficial at last admitted sorrowfully that, to tell the truth, the only people 
who had real power in Japan at present were the upstart daimyos. 

"Deus" Against "Dainichi" 

On his way to the capital, Xavier had passed through a great and 
prosperous city called Yamaguchi ; as, however, at that time he was still 


impatient to reach Miyako, he had taken no more account of the daimyo 
of Yamaguchi, Uchi Yoshitaka, than of all the other princes whom he 
had come across on his travels. Now, however, that he knew that the 
daimyos represented the sole authorities in the land, he remembered the 
prince of Yamaguchi and his magnificent court. Indeed, since Miyako 
had been laid waste by ceaseless civil war, a large number of the im- 
perial nobles had fled to Yamaguchi, and thus this city had become the 
real capital of Japan. 

In great haste, Xavier journeyed back to Yamaguchi. He put on for 
the audience with Uchi Yoshitaka the costly vestments which he had 
originally intended to wear at his audience with the emperor, and to the 
daimyo he tendered too the message from the pope of Rome, the cre- 
dentials from the governor of Goa, and the presents intended for the 

When the daimyo learnt what high honour the stranger was showing 
him, when he heard this Christian priest, clad in his glittering vestments, 
addressing him with all the titles and homage due to the emperor, very 
little persuasion was needed to convince him of the usefulness and truth 
of Christianity. 

But, after Xavier's speech was at an end and the parchment rolls with 
the greetings of the pope and the Portuguese governor had been handed 
to the daimyo, the supreme moment came when the stranger brought out 
of his bag one splendid present after another. 

Immediately a court official was called and ordered to record for all 
future time with what words the ambassador from the Land of the 
Southern Barbarians had addressed the daimyo, and with what marvel- 
lous gifts he had presented him as a sign of homage. 

"A clock," inscribed the chronicler, "which strikes exactly twelve times 
by day and twelve times by night ; a musical instrument which gives out 
wonderful sounds quite by itself and without being touched ; glasses for 
the eyes, with the help of which an old man can see as well as a young 

With a loud voice, the daimyo ordered it to be proclaimed in the city 
on the very same day that the stranger had permission freely to preach 
his faith, and that all subjects were allowed to embrace Christianity. 

The news of the arrival of a marvellous man from the Land of the 
Southern Barbarians was soon spread abroad throughout Japan by mer- 
chants, vagrants and sea-captains, and so it came about that Otomo 
Yoshishige too, the daimyo of Bungo, heard of Xavier and his amazing 
treasures, Immediately, this prince commanded his samurais that by all 


means they must bring the holy man to his court. "I have a great desire 
to see you," he wrote himself to the missionary, "and to speak with you 
privately. I am filled with emotion by the hope of your early arrival." 

It seemed as though heaven itself had a mind to make Xavier 's journey 
to Bungo especially successful, for, just as the missionary arrived there, 
a Portuguese ship came into harbour. At Xavier's wish, the Portuguese 
immediately did everything to provide the priest whom they held in such 
high honour with a correspondingly splendid appearance. They bore him 
to Funai, the residence of the daimyo, in a gaily decorated shallop, ac- 
companied by many slaves in costly raiment, and, when Xavier was re- 
ceived by Otomo Yoshishige, the Portuguese ship's officers spread their 
rich cloaks on the ground so that Xavier might sit upon them. 

All this did not fail to make an impression upon the prince. Immedi- 
ately, complete liberty of conscience was proclaimed for all Bungo ; the 
daimyo himself expressed a wish to keep the priest from the Land of the 
Southern Barbarians constantly in his company, a request which Xavier 

The success which the missionary had achieved during his short activ- 
ity in Japan was great ; already there were five towns with Christian com- 
munities, and the number of baptized Japanese exceeded a thousand; 
moreover, these were not, as in India, merely members of the lowest 
classes, but in great part were nobles and court officials. 

Nevertheless, Xavier could not forget that up till now the most im- 
portant part of his task remained undone ; the bonzes, the priests of the 
false belief, were not only not yet conquered, but proved themselves bitter 
and dangerous enemies. 

On Anjiro's advice, Xavier had at first referred to the Christian God 
by the name current in Japan of Dainichi, "Creator of All Things" ; the 
bonzes had thereupon explained with satisfaction that this God was none 
other than their own god and that Christianity was a kind of Buddhism. 
"Between you and us," they said to Xavier, "there is only the difference 
of language ; our belief is the same." At first, they received the "foreign 
brother" in the friendliest fashion, invited him to their monastery, and 
prepared a festive reception for him there. It happened, too, that certain 
priests embraced Christianity and suffered Xavier to baptize them. 

But, when Xavier had himself investigated the teachings of Buddhism 
and Shintoism, he found to his horror that Anjiro's information had led 
him astray. The good fellow had certainly proved to be a veritable Paul, 
preaching Christianity with fiery tongues, but, at bottom, he was, as now 
appeared, quite uneducated, and most of his information was inaccurate. 


Xavier now saw that the resemblance which, Anjiro maintained, ex- 
isted between these heathen creeds and Christianity rested only on unim- 
portant externals. Actually, Buddhism knew nothing of a Saviour whose 
sufferings redeemed mankind, nor of the struggle to obtain eternal 
blessedness ; the goal of the Buddhist was not heaven but nirvana, com- 
plete extinction in non-existence. The adherents of Shintoism prayed to 
sun and moon, legendary heroes of war and brute beasts, and this the 
Catholic missionary could not but regard with aversion and contempt. 

Xavier, therefore, became more cautious, and, to avoid any misunder- 
standing, referred to God only by the Latin name Deus. In order to make 
good his original error, he was quick to explain everywhere that the 
Dainichi of the bonzes was no God, but the offspring of Satan. 

This, however, brought to an end his good understanding with the 
Japanese priests ; these became his bitterest opponents and made every 
effort to oppose him and to defeat his doctrine. 

Before the Gates of China 

In the verbal battles which now took place everywhere, the Buddhist 
priests often adduced an argument which perplexed Xavier. It was im- 
possible, they declared, that the doctrine of the Christian "Deus" could 
be the right one, as the Chinese knew nothing of it ; this seldom failed in 
its effect on the Japanese audience. Xavier realized how much the Japa- 
nese were influenced in all their opinions and judgments by the example 
of China; Japan had, indeed, taken over its religion, its writing and al- 
most all its spiritual culture from China. 

Gradually, influenced by these discussions, Xavier came to the idea of 
attempting the conquest of Japan by way of China. If he succeeded in 
converting the Chinese, Japan, which imitated China in everything, 
would follow automatically. He tried, therefore, with increasing earnest- 
ness to collect information about the state of things in the Middle King- 
dom, and what the Portuguese merchants whom he interrogated told 
him sounded attractive enough. 

China, he heard, was the prototype of a land of righteousness, and sur- 
passed the whole of Christendom in this respect. The religibn of the 
Chinese was really a venerable moral system, while very little regard was 
had for the heathen gods. In China, unlike Japan, there was an emperor 
who really exercised authority over the whole realm; the people were 
peace-loving and unusually devoted to the sciences, particularly to law 
and astronomy. 


"I think," Xavier wrote home, "that I shall set out for the residence of 
the King of China this very year. This is a land where the Faith of Jesus 
Christ can be widely disseminated. When the Chinese have once re- 
ceived Christianity, it will be of great assistance in the destruction of the 
Japanese sects. . . . China must be won as was once the Roman Em- 
pire : with the conversion of the king, the people will follow." 

On the return journey from Japan to India, Xavier fell in with a 
Portuguese merchant, by name Pereira, and told him how earnestly he 
desired to enter China. The Portuguese listened to him with the great- 
est attention, and thereupon unfolded the plan of organizing an official 
embassy from Portugal to the Chinese emperor, and penetrating in this 
way into the kingdom which was so firmly barred against all foreigners. 
Pereira wanted to see himself in the role of Portuguese ambassador, and 
was therefore prepared to meet from his own pocket all the cost involved 
in this embassy. He pointed out that Xavier was on very good terms with 
the viceroy in Goa, and would certainly be able to arrange with him the 
drawing up of the necessary credentials for Pereira. When this was car- 
ried out, Xavier himself might accompany Pereira to Peking, and there 
preach the Gospel to the emperor of China. 

Xavier entered eagerly into this project. As soon as he returned to 
Goa, he sought out the viceroy and obtained his approval of the enter- 
prise ; then he journeyed again to Malacca, where Pereira was already 
awaiting him, to proceed with him to China. 

In Malacca, however, an unexpected difficulty presented itself. The 
port commander there had his own plans for opening up a profitable trade 
with China, and was, therefore, determined to take every means to pre- 
vent the departure of a competitor. Xavier appealed in vain to his posi- 
tion as papal nuncio, a thing that he had never done before, and threat- 
ened excommunication. The port commander was more avaricious than 
pious ; he would not be intimidated, and declared roundly that he did not 
cajre a fig for the papal commission; as long as he had authority in 
Malacca, Pereira should not set sail. 

Xavier was by no means disposed to let his great project of winning 
China for Christianity founder because of the petty jealousies of a port 
commandant and a merchant. If he could not go to China with Pereira, 
then he must go without him. So he set sail on a Portuguese trading ves- 
sel to the island of Chang-chuen-shan (St. John Island), which lay on 
the route to Canton, where for some time a secret exchange of goods 
between Portuguese and Chinese merchants had been carried on. 

Immediately after his arrival there, he entered into negotiations with 



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the Chinese ship-owners to find out whether it was possible to get himself 
transported to Canton; the Chinese merchants, however, refused, for 
they would risk their heads if they dared, despite the stern prohibition, 
to smuggle a foreigner into the Middle Kingdom. 

At the very gates of China, therefore, Xavier waited from day to 
day, in a miserable reed hut, for an opportunity to set foot in the land of 
promise. At that time, he wrote to Pereira, who still hoped that he might 
be able to put his thwarted plan into practice the following year : "When 
you reach China, you will find me either in prison at Canton or at the 
imperial court at Peking." At last, he succeeded in securing a Chinese 
smuggler, at the price of twenty hundredweights of pepper. The Chinese 
declared himself ready to bring him by night secretly in a little boat to 
Canton, and to hide him there in his hut for the first few days. On an ap- 
pointed day, he would come and fetch the missionary away. 

But the smuggler did not appear again; a month of anxious waiting 
went by, and then a second. It was already October, the Portuguese mer- 
chants had discharged their business on the island, and one ship after 
another set sail, to vanish southwards. At last, only Xavier, with one 
faithful servant, remained on the deserted island. Every day he went to 
the shore, and sat there for hours in silence, looking sorrowfully towards 
the west, where lay the great heathen kingdom which was to be won for 

The weather became cold and inclement, and one day Xavier fell ill. 
A prey to ague and sickness, he was soon unable to take any nourishment, 
and from day to day his condition grew worse. Lying on his straw pallet, 
in a fit of ague, he still awaited the Chinese vessel which was to fetch him 
and take him over the sea, whipped along by autumn storms, to Canton. 

One morning, he became delirious ; with his eyes raised to heaven and 
with a joyful countenance, he began to preach in several languages at 
once perhaps Tamil, Malay, Japanese and Basque. 

On the eighth day of his illness, he lost the power of speech, and no 
longer recognized his servant. Early in the morning of December I, 
1552, he died. 


Jesuits as Brahmins and Yogis 

The death of Xavier had prevented the realization of his great plan, 
but the work begun by him was, nevertheless, destined to be carried on 
with astonishing success. Immediately, the dead man's place was filled 
by a host of successors. Dozens and even hundreds of Jesuit missionaries 


applied themselves to the task of achieving what Xavier himself had been 
prevented from doing; each and all were inspired by the same enthusi- 
asm and zeal, and all possessed in the same degree the facility of so 
adapting themselves that to the merchant they were fellow-merchants, 
to the soldier they were companions-in-arms, to the prince they were 
counsellors, to the slave they were friends and confidants ; to the proud- 
spirited Japanese they were able to oppose an equal pride of spirit, and, 
to the learned bonzes, superior powers of debate. 

Everywhere, whether to Portuguese who had fallen into a vicious mode 
of life, to Indians, Malayans and Japanese who were pursuing the cult 
of their false gods, the Jesuit missionaries appeared preaching the Chris- 
tian faith. Each and all were untiring, self-sacrificing, tactful and skil- 
ful ; if, for any reason, one of them was prevented from carrying on his 
work, either on account of age and physical weakness or because he had 
been called upon by Rome to accomplish other work, or even for the rea- 
son that he had been thrown into prison or tortured to death by fanatical 
heathens, his place was immediately taken by another, who was as 
courageous, clever and resourceful as his predecessor. 

For centuries, Jesuit missionaries have succeeded one another in this 
way in all quarters of the globe, and yet, right from the time of Xavier 
up to the present day, the same face appears to be hidden behind the many 
and varied masks assumed by them according to the different countries 
and prevailing usages. 

In Ormuz, on the Indo-Persian border, Father Barzaeus with his little 
bell came and went through the streets. In this town, famed for its wealth, 
merchants of all races and creeds met together : Persians, Jews, Brah- 
mins, Jainas, Parsees, Turks, Arabs, Armenian Christians, Greeks, 
Italians and Portuguese. Barzaeus knew how to win them all over. The 
merchants sought his advice in their complicated affairs of business; 
among the Jews he was, in effect, himself a Jew, so that the rabbis were 
amazed at the profound knowledge of the Talmud displayed by this 
Christian priest, and eventually invited him to expound their holy scrip- 
tures to them in their synagogues before the whole community. 

It was not long, too, before the Mohammedans came to regard Bar- 
zaeus as a new prophet, and, on one occasion, when he appeared in their 
mosque, they hoisted him aloft on their shoulders, and acclaimed him as 
a newly risen John the Baptist. Barzaeus was successful in gaining the 
confidence of the Brahmins even, so that he visited their temple, and de- 
bated with the most learned among them the analogies between the Chris- 
tian and the Indian doctrines of the Trinity. Finally, Barzaeus found 


himself compelled to lay down a regular weekly programme : on Thurs- 
days he preached to the Mohammedans, on Saturdays to the Jews, on 
Mondays to the Brahmins, and to the Christians on other days of the 

Xavier himself had been taught much about the Brahmins by a learned 
Indian. "He disclosed to me under the seal of silence," wrote Xavier at 
that time, "that the true doctrine was always to be kept a close secret. . . . 
There exists a secret language which is employed for the purposes of 
education in the same way as Latin is used with us. He disclosed to me the 
precepts of this doctrine, giving me a good explanation of them all. . . ." 

This information did not, however, create any appreciable impression 
on Xavier ; he considered his most important task in India was to devote 
himself primarily to the slaves and pearl-fishers, who appeared to him 
to be particularly suitable soil in which to sow the seed of the gospel of 
salvation. He had no appreciation whatsoever of the true significance 
of Brahminism : "There exists here a race of men who call themselves 
Brahmins. ... It is the most depraved race in the world." Thus he 
once wrote to his fellow-priests. 

His successors, however, who worked in India after his death soon 
recognized clearly of what little practical value were the greatest suc- 
cesses in the conversion of fishermen, slaves and even princes, so long as 
the Brahmin castes refused to accept Christianity. These Jesuits already 
gauged the profound importance of caste in India, a point which Xavier 
had entirely overlooked ; so long as they were unsuccessful in convert- 
ing the highest caste, any successes in converting the lower castes would 
be of an isolated nature and would not be lasting. 

The Brahmins, however, maintained an exceptionally mistrustful at- 
titude towards Christianity ; the Portuguese colonists and soldiers who 
confessed to this faith could, according to Indian ideas, he regarded only 
as outcasts since they ate meat, drank wine and carried on everyday in- 
tercourse with all castes without discrimination, whilst the Brahmin re- 
garded himself as defiled if even the shadow of a pariah fell upon him. 
Accordingly, then, the Brahmins necessarily regarded the Christian 
priests too as pariahs, and to adopt Christianity seemed to them to in- 
volve automatically loss of caste. 

The Jesuit missionary, Robert de Nobili, the nephew of Cardinal Bel- 
larmine and scion of an old branch of the Italian nobility, was the first 
to take in hand the task of converting the Brahmins, and, for this pur- 
pose, he approached them as a Brahmin himself. When, after a long 
period of preparation, he appeared in the town of Madura in southern 


India, he did not present the slightest resemblance to his fellow-Jesuit 
missionaries, who travelled from place to place wearing torn and dilapi- 
dated cowls, received the confessions of the poor and the slaves in the 
hospitals, and with their little bells hastened through the fishing villages. 
Like the Hindus of high caste, he wore a long gown of a yellowish linen, 
a turban on his head and wooden sandals on his feet. 

If he were asked by the Brahmins whether, by any chance, he were a 
Portuguese, he repudiated the suggestion with injured pride, and de- 
clared that he was a Roman prince and a Brahmin by faith ; he had come 
to India solely from motives of admiration for his brother-Brahmins in 
India, reports of whose profound wisdom had reached him in his own 

The Brahmins soon came to recognize that not only the dress and gen- 
eral conduct of the stranger were in accordance with their caste, but that 
he also strictly observed all the laws of the Hindu faith. Like themselves, 
he never ate meat, never touched a drop of wine, and lived exclusively 
on rice, milk, vegetables and water. He established himself in the quarter 
in which the highest-class Brahmins resided, and surrounded himself 
with a staff of servants consisting entirely of Brahmins. He never spoke 
with a member of any of the lower castes, and even strictly abstained 
from any intercourse with those white priests with tattered cowls who 
were striving to secure the spiritual salvation of the pariahs. 

What most astonished the Brahmins, however, was his extraordinary 
knowledge of their faith. Nobili could speak their language fluently, and 
with scarcely any foreign accent, could read the most difficult Sanskrit 
texts, and excelled the most learned priests in his ability to intersperse 
every religious and philosophical discussion with a profusion of quota- 
tions from the greatest works of the national poetic art. With the great- 
est reverence, they listened to the missionary, when, with the voice of a 
wise philosopher who has renounced the world, he recited passages out 
of the Vedas, the Apastambra-Sutras and the Puranas; moreover, he 
himself composed religious works in Sanskrit, and wrote them on palm 
leaves. On occasion, too, he delighted his hearers by rendering Indian 
ballads, for he -knew the most ancient "ragas," and possessed in an ex- 
ceptional degree the faculty of being able, for hours on end, to vary them 
whilst duly observing all the rules of the art. 

He had given such conclusive proofs of exceptional learning and en- 
lightenment that the Brahmins did not venture for a moment to question 
the truth of his words when, as the opportunity presented itself, he 
proceeded to speak about the points of agreement between the sacred 


writings of India and the Christian teachings. In principle, he explained, 
in both cases the ideas were the same, the only difference being that, 
in Christianity, the Brahmin faith was developed and perfected. In a 
short while there was scarcely a Brahmin in Madura who would not 
have accepted Nobili as his fellow and equal, and many already were 
of the opinion that this stranger was, in fact, better than any among 

Those who thought in this way were readily disposed to follow the 
example of such a pious and learned man, and even to become "Christian 
Brahmins." Thus Nobili succeeded where all other missionaries before 
him had failed. A number of prominent Indians of the highest caste were 
baptized, and henceforward no one could any longer contend that Chris- 
tianity was fitted only for pariahs. 

At first, however, it seemed that the achievement of this great success 
was made possible only through the sacrifice of missionary work among 
the lower castes, for Nobili had strictly avoided all intercourse with the 
lower castes. He himself soon, however, found a way out of this difficult 
dilemma : he knew that there was in India a class which was free to as- 
sociate with all castes without becoming defiled ; these were the Yogis, 
the Penitents. He accordingly proposed to his fellow-missionaries that 
they should be split up into two distinct groups, the one group represent- 
ing themselves to be Brahmins and the other Yogis. 

Whilst, then, Nobili himself continued to associate only with his Brah- 
min friends, there appeared one day the Jesuit da Costa in the guise of 
a Yogi, and, soon after, other Jesuit Yogis whose object it was to make 
converts among the lower castes. As the result, the mission in Madura 
soon achieved very considerable success. When Nobili withdrew from 
the scene of his labours, there were already over 40,000 converted na- 
tives, including a large number of Brahmins. Of the nine missionaries 
who continued the work in Madura, seven represented themselves as 
Yogis and two as Brahmins. 

The majority of them had a thorough knowledge of Sanskrit, and, 
like Nobili, were so well versed in the Indian sacred writings that they 
were accepted everywhere as authorities. The missionary Father Cal- 
mette could well, at that time, report triumphantly to Rome : "Since we 
have been able to obtain possession of the Veda, we have extracted from 
it passages by means of which we are able to convince the heathens of 
those fundamental truths which cannot fail to overthrow their idolatry ; 
the unity of God, the attributes of the true God and the states of blessed- 
ness and damnation, all these conceptions are to be found in the Veda." 


At the Court of the Great Mogul 

Whereas, in southern India, Christianity had to be introduced sur- 
reptitiously and only in a prudent and unobtrusive manner as a form of 
perfected Brahminism, in the north of India, at the court of the Grand 
Mogul Akbar, it had to fight its way through open debate with the ex- 
ponents of the most varied creeds. 

The Emperor Akbar, the great-grandson of the terrible Timur Lenk, 
had, from the age of thirteen years, persistently sought after the true 
faith, which he wished to adopt himself and introduce into his empire, 
so that his people might become the most perfect of all peoples. Brought 
up in the faith of Islam, he had never found true satisfaction in it ; he 
was equally averse to accepting the faith of the repressed Indians, since 
he was inclined to regard both the one and the other as nothing but 
the mere products of the human mind. For many years, he meditated in 
his magnificent palace of Fatehpur Sikri on the question how he could 
attain the true religion, a faith which, unassailable by all external in- 
fluences, should stand radiant in its simple purity. 

At one time, he imagined that the true and original faith could be 
found only through the medium of children who had been allowed to 
grow up uninfluenced by any form of training, and, as the result of these 
ideas, he tried a strange experiment. At his order, thirty children who 
had not yet learnt to speak were brought to a spot entirely isolated from 
the outside world, and allowed to grow up there in the charge of nurses, 
who were forbidden to utter a single word to them. In vain did Akbar 
wait to see what language and what religion these children would pro- 
duce of themselves. Naturally, the experiment failed, since not one of the 
children ever uttered any form of articulate speech, still less manifest 
any religious faith. 

The emperor made up his mind to try another experiment. He invited 
exponents of all the religions known to him to come and debate before 
him at his court. By means of this debating contest between the various 
priests, he hoped to be able to determine which was the true faith. Thus a 
remarkable religious debate took place in Fatehpur Sikri : Brahmins, 
Mohammedans and Par sees congregated there with the object of demon- 
strating before the emperor all the advantages of their own faith and all 
the defects of the other creeds. 

When, one day, Akbar learnt that on the Indian coast there was a new 
faith with very clever priests, he immediately sent a messenger to Goa, 
and formally invited the Jesuits to come and take part in the religious 


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Japanese representation from the sixteenth century 





discussions. The Jesuit fathers were not slow to appreciate the excep- 
tional significance of this event. If only they were successful in convinc- 
ing Akbar of the superiority of the Christian faith, then the whole of the 
mighty empire of the Mogul would be won at a single stroke for Ca- 
tholicism. The Jesuits already had visions of finding in Akbar a second 
Emperor Constantine, and, accordingly, they dispatched to Akbar their 
most skilled dialecticians and theologians, Rudolfo Acquaviva, Jerome 
Xavier, a nephew of the great apostle, Enianuel Pinheiro and Benedict 

Right from the outset of the discussions, the Jesuits demonstrated 
their superiority over the Brahmins, the Buddhists, the Mohammedans 
and the Parsees, since they were thoroughly conversant, not only with 
the Vedas, but also with the Buddhist doctrines, with the Koran and with 
the traditional utterances of Zoroaster. They always proceeded in such a 
way that, if, for instance, they were debating with the Parsees, the latter 
at first nodded approvingly ; everything which the Christian missionaries 
said appeared to support the Parsee faith. If the debate was being con- 
ducted with the Mohammedans, then the arguments advanced by the 
Jesuits appeared to accord in the fullest degree with the teachings of the 
Prophet, and the mullahs broke into smiles of satisfaction. Even the 
Brahmins were made to feel that never had their sacred scriptures been 
so beautifully and clearly interpreted as by these white priests. 

Finally, however, the Jesuits concluded by contending that the doc- 
trines of the Catholic Church embodied the same truths as were contained 
in the creeds of the Mohammedans, the Hindus and the Parsees, but that 
these truths received their fullest and clearest expression in the Chris- 
tian faith. At this, however, the Parsees, Brahmins and Mohammedans 
shook their heads, for they were not prepared to acquiesce in such a 

The Emperor Akbar was, however, on the verge of deciding in favour 
of Christianity. He accorded to the missionaries the unrestricted right 
to preach and baptize, permitted his subjects to go over to Catholicism, 
and sanctioned the establishment of a church and a Jesuit college in 
Agra. What alone prevented him from personally adopting the Christian 
faith were the doctrines of the trinity in unity of God and the incarna- 
tion of the Creator in the person of Christ ; furthermore, the doctrine of 
humility preached by Jesus seemed to the ruler to be unworthy of a son 
of God, and excited his displeasure. For many days and nights on end, 
Akbar discussed these problems with the Jesuits, and urged them ear- 
nestly to rid him of his scruples by satisfactory explanations. 


The outbreak of war called the emperor into the field. So great was his 
eagerness, however, to elucidate those points of the Christian doctrine 
which were still not quite clear to him that he took the Jesuit fathers with 
him on his campaign. They rode beside him through the steppes of 
Hindustan, and at night, under star-lit skies, sitting around the camp- 
fire, he plied them incessantly with innumerable questions. 

Never yet had God placed such a heavy responsibility upon the shoul- 
ders of His faithful missionaries. Here was the possibility of winning 
over to the only true faith a powerful and noble ruler, and a single word, 
perhaps, was all that was lacking to reveal to the emperor the meaning 
of the principles of the faith. To find this word might mean that, in 
Akbar the Great, a second Constantine the Great would arise ! With the 
utmost earnestness and with all the resources of their learning and elo- 
quence, the Jesuits answered the ceaseless questionings of the emperor; 
nevertheless, they failed to find this single word which might have dis- 
sipated the doubts of the Great Mogul. The Emperor Akbar died un- 
converted, and, with his death, was extinguished one of the greatest hopes 
of the Jesuit mission to India. 

From Agra, the Jesuit missionaries were the first Europeans to pene- 
trate into Central Asia and Tibet. Whilst at the court of the Great 
Mogul, they had heard of a wonderful empire called Cathay, the religion 
of which was said to be closely akin to Christianity. Setting out in search 
of this kingdom of Cathay, Father Goes joined one of the caravans 
travelling north, and, passing through Kabul, over the Pamir Plateau, 
through Turkestan and the desert of Gobi, reached the western boundary 
of China. This first expedition was followed, in 1624, by a second ex- 
ploratory expedition, undertaken by Father Antonio Andrada. Travel- 
ling up the valley of the Upper Ganges, Andrada crossed the Himalayas 
via the Mana Pass at a height of over 15,000 feet above sea-level, and 
eventually reached the town of Chaprang in Western Tibet, where he re- 
mained for the following nine years. 

Two other Jesuits later left Bengal, and, travelling through Nepal, 
reached the eastern part of Tibet. Their reports, and those of Andrada, 
provided the first, and for a long time the last, reliable information 
known in Europe concerning those parts of the world. 

From the Tea Ceremonial to Martyrdom 

"Nine foot in stature, his head small in relation to his body, his face 
red, his eyes brown and a long nose. Looked at from the side, his shoul- 


ders were seen to droop ; his mouth extended to his ears, and his pure 
white teeth resembled those of a horse. His finger-nails reminded one of 
the claws of a bear. His expression was one of profound humility, and his 
voice sounded like the cooing of a dove. When he raised his arms aloft, 
one could almost imagine one was faced by a bat with outspread wings. 
He presented a hideous sight." 

It is with these words that a Japanese chronicler of the year 1552 
describes the Jesuit Father Organtino; at that time these new-comers 
from the land of the "Southern Barbarians" still appeared to the Japa- 
nese as strange and in many respects sinister human phenomena. 

Not long after, however, the self-same missionary, Organtino, was 
able to report optimistically to Rome : "In ten years' time, the whole of 
Japan will be Christian." For the sons of the most distinguished Japanese 
families now sought acceptance into the newly founded Jesuit school of 
novitiates, and daughters, wives and sisters flocked to join a union of 
Japanese Christian women, which, under the leadership of the Jesuit 
fathers, worked to secure the conversion of the whole country. 

In the meantime, the missionaries had already thoroughly learnt how 
to adapt themselves to Japanese manners and customs, so that in their 
general conduct, their courtesy, and even in their pronunciation of the 
Japanese language, they resembled distinguished Japanese. They com- 
ported themselves, bowed, and seated themselves entirely in accordance 
with the rules of Japanese etiquette; they were familiar with all the 
niceties of the tea ceremonial, and they knew, like natives, just what 
polite forms of speech the occasion demanded, and the manner in which 
substantives and verbs required to be inflected according to the rank of 
the person addressed. 

As they knew that the Japanese were very fond of anything spectac- 
ular, they did everything possible to organize elaborate ceremonials on 
the Christian feast-days. On Good Fridays, they posted Japanese soldiers 
in gorgeous uniform before the Holy Sepulchre in their churches; then 
a procession of children in ceremonial dress carried the emblems of the 
Saviour's passion around the body of the church, whilst young women 
converts chanted in chorus in the Japanese tongue the story of Christ's 

Whenever one of the fathers died, his colleagues arranged a cere- 
monial burial, such as might have aroused envy in the hearts of many a 
shogun, for the Jesuits were also by now aware to what extent the im- 
portance of a person was judged in Japan by the degree of pomp attend- 
ing his funeral obsequies. 


The varied and extensive knowledge of the missionaries was the in- 
strument by which the educated classes in the country were won over. 
The Jesuits established schools, instituted courses of debates, and had a 
printing press sent out from Europe with which they produced books in 
Japanese: grammars, dictionaries, literary works, theological treatises, 
yEsop's Fables translated into Japanese, as well as extracts from the 
Chinese classics, particularly from the works of Confucius. Produced 
in many thousands of copies, these cheap books found their way through- 
out the whole of Japan. 

With the same resourcefulness the Jesuits found the means of win- 
ning over the uncultured classes ; they scorned no means of influencing 
the masses, and knew how to exploit the wildest superstitions of the peo- 
ple for their own purposes. When, on one occasion, certain bonzes ex- 
pressed their desire to bewitch Father Almeda, he immediately declared 
his readiness to submit and, for his part, maintained that he would pre- 
vail over the demons by virtue of the Cross. The bonzes smeared the 
missionary with unguents, placed idols on him, wound snakes around his 
neck and uttered various magic formulas, but Almeda continued to wave 
his cross, and declared that with its help he had driven off the evil spirits. 
The result was that a number of the onlookers immediately offered them- 
selves for baptism. 

Wherever a new daimyo succeeded to power in this or that principality, 
a Jesuit soon appeared, and recounted the enormous advantages that the 
country would derive from trade with Portugal. Instances occurred with 
ever-increasing frequency of rulers who not only adopted Christianity 
themselves, but even destroyed the Buddhist temples and expelled the 

When, on one occasion, a certain daimyo threatened to obstruct the 
cause of Christianity, a Jesuit father arrived at his court, and observed 
quite casually that, through commercial intercourse with Portugal, it 
was possible to procure supplies of firearms ; the Christian princes in the 
neighbouring provinces had, in fact, already availed themselves freely 
of this possibility. The hint sufficed to impel the daimyo to lose no time 
in asking to be baptized. 

Eventually, the time arrived when the Jesuits were able to exercise 
. their influence even at the court of Miyako ; a daimyo of the name of 
Oda Nobunaga had attained to the position of undisputed ruler over the 
whole of Japan, and, under his rule, the town of Miyako, which had 
fallen into semi-decay, became once again a place of splendour as the seat 
of the court. 

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"I tf " \ 










Thus was the dream of Xavier realized : there now existed in Japan a 
single mighty monarch, and the possibility presented itself of christian- 
izing the whole empire by winning him over. 

At the time when Nobunaga was still fighting for power, the Buddhist 
priests had been particularly hostile to him; in order to destroy their 
power, he sought to promote the cause of Christianity. He accorded the 
missionaries full freedom to preach, exempted them from all taxation, 
urged them to build a church and a mission house at Azuchi, the new seat 
of the court, and to this end he presented to them a fine plot of land. So 
that none should doubt his benevolence towards Christianity, he burned 
down everywhere the monasteries of the hated Buddhist priests, de- 
stroyed with his own hand the idols of his house, and mercilessly im- 
prisoned every bonze he could lay his hands on. 

It was not long before the Jesuits played, at the court of Nobunaga, 
the role of trusted counsellors ; they had free access to him at all times, 
he invited them to join him at meals, and discussed his most ambitious 
plans with them. These had for their object nothing less than the con- 
quest of China, and the Jesuit fathers cherished the hope of gaining 
before long entry into Peking in the train of the Japanese ruler. For this 
expedition, a fleet was necessary. On the recommendations of the Jesuits, 
Nobunaga decided to have this built in Portugal, the missionaries hold- 
ing out to him the prospect of securing, through their agency, especially 
favourable prices. 

But Nobunaga was murdered before he found the opportunity of em- 
barking upon his campaign against China. His successor, Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi, was certainly at first equally kindly disposed towards the 
Christians, but very soon changed his attitude. What first displeased him 
was the fact that certain young Christian girls, towards whom his fancy 
was attracted, declined to surrender themselves to him, on the grounds 
that it would be contrary to the laws of their new faith. On top of this, 
however, came another and graver occurrence. 

A Spanish merchantman had been stranded on the Japanese coast, and 
the authorities had confiscated the valuable cargo. In order to secure its 
surrender, the crew had endeavoured to intimidate the Japanese by point- 
ing out on a map of the world the enormous expanse of territory under 
the rule of the Spanish monarchy. In reply to an inquiry by one of the 
Japanese officials how it came about that the king of Spain was able to 
subjugate so many countries, they said : "Our rulers begin by sending 
priests to those countries they intend conquering. When the priests have 
converted a part of the people, troops are sent who join forces with the 


new Christians, and then the whole country is brought under the domina- 
tion of the Spanish crown." 

The party supporting the bonzes at the court of Hideyoshi did not fail 
to inform the sovereign of this inflammable utterance, and to add suitable 
comments, and Hideyoshi, who already could no longer tolerate the mis- 
sionaries on account of the obstinate coldness of the young Christian 
girls, thereupon decided to exterminate completely this "treasonable" 

From then onwards, the position of the Jesuit fathers became excep- 
tionally difficult. By strict edicts, the priests were prohibited, under 
penalty of death, from carrying on any proselytizing activities, and the 
population from adopting Christianity ; those who had already been bap- 
tized were compelled to revert to their original faith forthwith. 

Under lyeyasu, the successor of Hideyoshi, the persecution of the 
Christians became still more rigorous, following upon the arrival in 
Japan of the first Dutch merchantmen. The clever Dutchmen had, in the 
meantime, likewise discovered the ocean-route to the Far East, and it was 
not long before an official Dutch ambassador appeared and proposed to 
the Japanese government the conclusion of a formal trade agreement. 
This removed the last considerations which had prevented the Japanese 
ruler from proceeding to extreme measures against the Jesuits. After 
trade relations had been established with Holland, the Portuguese could 
quite readily be dispensed with, and there was no longer any need to make 
religious concessions to them. Accordingly, an edict was issued ordering 
the destruction by fire of all Catholic churches, and providing for strict 
penalties against all missionaries who remained in the country. The 
Christians, so the decree alleged, were striving "to spread abroad a per- 
nicious code, to exterminate the true faith, to overthrow the government, 
and to make themselves masters of the whole empire." 

When the Jesuit fathers had definitely realized that everything had 
conspired against their work, they came to the conclusion that a God who 
hitherto had demanded of them skill, adaptability, zeal and ingenuity 
now required them to sacrifice their lives in order that the truth of the 
Christian faith might be clearly manifested before the eyes of the heathen 
Japanese. And, with the same ready spirit with which, earlier, they had 
applied themselves to the study of the most difficult Sanskrit tenets, had 
disguised themselves as Brahmins, and learnt the rules of Japanese eti- 
quette, and thereby had won souls for the Kingdom of Christ, the Jesuits 
now accepted martyrdom also in furtherance of the honour of God. 

With calm resignation, they allowed themselves to be imprisoned, 


tortured and crucified, for the Japanese had learnt of this form of execu- 
tion, which was hitherto unknown in Japan, from the sermons of the 
Jesuits on the crucifixion of Christ, and it now afforded them derisive 
satisfaction to nail to the cross the priests of the crucified Saviour. 
Others of the fathers were suspended by their feet, until they died a 
lingering and agonizing death, whilst still others were beheaded and 
their bodies thrown into the sea. 

Whilst, however, they were hanging on the cross, or, head down- 
wards, were awaiting their end, or were being led to the executioner's 
block, they continued to preach, up to their last breath, that the Chris- 
tian faith was the true faith. After all the many victories which they had 
gained in Japan by their skill and ingenuity, the manner in which they 
met death for the honour of God could not fail to have lasting effects. 
Indeed, when, many years later, Catholic missionaries were once again 
permitted to enter Japan, they discovered large communities who se- 
cretly confessed Christianity; they were the descendants of those Jap- 
anese who had once witnessed the martyrdom of the Jesuits. 

After the missionaries had been excluded from Japan, towards the 
year 1600, the Jesuits turned towards Cochin China and Tonking, where 
Father Alexander de Rhodes achieved great successes. The number of 
natives who were baptized there amounted in a short while to close 
upon 400,000. 

Father Ricci Doctor Li 

The early beginnings of the mission to Japan had been closely bound 
up with the question of trade with Portugal, since the daimyos had al- 
ways counted on the fact that the arrival of the missionaries would pro- 
mote intercourse with the Portuguese colonial empire. In China, how- 
ever, the Portuguese had always been hated from the earliest times, and 
every effort was made to keep them out of the country. 

This fundamental hostility to foreigners arose primarily from the 
unfavourable impression which the Portuguese had made on their first 
appearance in Chinese waters. Thus, in the year 1516, the viceroy of Can- 
ton had written to the Emperor of China to the effect that the foreigners, 
under the pretext of trading, had no other purpose than to plunder the 
coast and to establish strongholds. Furthermore, at the time when the 
Jesuits began their activities in the Far East, the ruling dynasty was that 
of the royal house of Ming, which was strongly nationalist in spirit and 
aimed at keeping the "Middle Kingdom" immune from all foreign in- 


The Jesuits had always found a way of turning every situation to ac- 
count, and, just as, in Japan, they had exploited the anxiety of the author- 
ities to trade with Portugal, so they now found the means of applying 
the hostility of the Chinese to foreigners towards their own ends. When, 
therefore, three Portuguese merchants, who had made their way into 
Canton, were arrested, the Jesuit Fathers Barreto and Goes undertook 
to conduct the negotiations with the Chinese authorities over the amount 
of the ransom that was to be paid. In their capacity, then, as negotiators, 
it was possible for them to reach Canton without molestation. 

Barreto presented the Chinese governor with a watch which the latter 
noticed the missionary wearing, and which he eagerly coveted, and this 
soon paved the way to such a close friendship that the governor per- 
mitted the two priests to remain on in Canton after the question of the 
ransom had been settled. He even raised no difficulties when a number of 
other missionaries came in the wake of their two brother-priests, for 
both he and his fellow-officials were already strongly attracted by these 
strangers who seemed so pleasant, tactful and learned. 

Barreto and Goes had only an imperfect command of the Chinese 
language, but the Jesuits who arrived later had already learnt to speak 
Chinese fluently, and were able to discuss the most learned matters with 
the officials, for Father Valignani, who was responsible for the general 
organization of the East Asiatic mission, had organized a regular "siege 
of China, and taken comprehensive steps to ensure that the missionaries 
should, on their arrival in China, possess all the necessary knowledge. 
In the college at Macao, they now learned all the niceties of speech among 
the better-class Chinese as well as the dialect of the simple people ; they 
studied the difficult hieroglyphic writings, and acquired from a variety 
of books an extensive knowledge of the history, the customs, the laws 
and the literature of China. 

Before embarking on their mission, they carefully collected together 
suitable gifts by which they hoped to gain the goodwill of the high offi- 
cials, and, if the opportunity offered, of the emperor himself. It was 
already known that the natural sciences were held in especially high 
esteem in this country, and, accordingly, the Jesuit missionaries had 
provided themselves with every available scientific instrument of Euro- 
pean origin which, it might be anticipated, would afford pleasure to the 

Their intimate knowledge of the mentality and character of the Chi- 
nese saved the Jesuits, from the outset, from adopting a line of action 
which would inevitably have ended in a complete failure. The Chinese 


were inordinately proud of their advanced culture and intellectual de- 
velopment, and firmly convinced of their superiority over all other na- 
tions of the world. On their maps, the "Middle Kingdom" was shown 
as covering by far the largest part of the earth ; beyond the borders were 
shown just a few small countries designated as "Barbarian Countries." 
With such a people, who regarded all nations lying outside the bounds 
of the Chinese Wall as negligible quantities, it would have been entirely 
impolitic to start off by preaching, since the Chinese were convinced that 
they had nothing to learn from any other race of people. 

With a full appreciation of this fact, the Jesuits proceeded, at the 
outset, with the utmost caution and, for a long time, kept their true pur- 
pose a close secret. With the Chinese, so wrote one of their missionaries 
to Rome at this time, it is necessary to walk with guile, and carefully 
guard against any indiscreet over-zealousness ; it might otherwise easily 
happen "that the gates, which the Lord God has opened into China, will 
be closed again." If they were asked what was the real reason that had 
brought them to China, they replied that the fame of the Chinese insti- 
tutions had reached them in their own country, and that they had been 
irresistibly attracted by the wisdom and high moral development of the 

They affected the dress of the Chinese and assumed Chinese names ; 
furthermore, since they knew that the Chinese looked with particular 
scorn on the Portuguese, they persistently denied having anything 
whatsoever in common with the barbarian sea-robbers. 

Among those men who had followed the first two missionaries to 
Canton was Father Matteo Ricci, whose subsequent work laid the real 
foundations for the astonishing success the Society of Jesus was later 
to achieve in China. Ricci appeared in Canton wearing the simple cowl 
of a Buddhist priest and under the assumed name of Li Ma-teu. At 
first, he adapted his mode of life strictly in accordance with that of the 
bonzes, begged alms like them before the temples, discussed eagerly 
with them the doctrines of Buddha, and in this manner sought to gain 
their confidence. 

On one occasion, however, he had the opportunity of discussing 
astronomy with an educated mandarin; in this, Ricci was in his own 
element, for he had spent many years in Rome studying astronomy and 
mathematics under the celebrated Jesuit authority, Christoph Clavius. 
Thus, he was able to impress the mandarin with his knowledge to such 
an extent that the mandarin eventually gave him an important piece of 
advice. "Your knowledge," he said, "has profoundly astonished me, 


and for this reason I advise you to give up your present mode of life. 
In the condition of poverty in which you have elected to live, you can 
bring your knowledge before only a limited public. Live like our men 
of learning and you will be everywhere received with honour." 

Ricci straightway decided to follow this advice. He exchanged the 
cowl of the Buddhist priests for the distinguished silken robe of the 
Chinese "literates," and, with the change of apparel, the pious bonze 
he had hitherto represented himself to be disappeared for ever. 

With the help of the articles he had brought with him for distribu- 
tion as presents, he transformed the living-room of his small house, in 
which he had been installed by the governor of Canton, into a regular 
laboratory ; distributed all over the room were a variety of instruments 
used in the study of mathematics, physics and astronomy, glass prisms 
through which all the colours of the spectrum could be seen, horological 
instruments of all kinds, gauges, compasses, musical instruments, books, 
pictures and maps. 

Very soon, the news spread in Canton that a very learned man had 
arrived from abroad, and had brought with him a large collection of 
strange articles ; his name was Li, he could speak the language of the 
mandarins, and wore the dress of a literary man. It was not long before 
the little house of the "Holy Doctor Li," as Ricci was now generally 
called, was besieged by high-class Chinese. 

"Doctor Li" naturally observed in every detail all the courtesies due 
to his visitors, but beyond this he maintained the silence of a man who is 
wholly engrossed in his scientific studies. Only when he was asked to ex- 
plain this or that piece of apparatus, book or picture, did he go into 
detailed explanations. In so doing he never adopted a patronizing or pe- 
dantic tone, but rather showed the greatest respect for the extensive 
knowledge of his guests, and humbly apologized for his own lack of 
knowledge. The mandarins and scholars took pleasure in the discussions 
with this "Doctor Li," who was so skilled in enlightening them in mat- 
ters beyond their knowledge, while at the same time never making them 
feel that they were being instructed. 

The very first thing each of them wanted to know was what all the 
various instruments and appliances were for. Ricci explained to them the 
purpose of the instruments and their method of use, and he had to re- 
peat his explanations time and again. One after another, he explained 
the horological instruments, glass prisms and compasses until his visi- 
tors eventually were led to examine more closely the charts hung on the 


In the most conspicuous position in the room, Ricci had placed a map 
of the world and when the Chinese asked him to explain the map, he 
told them in a matter-of-fact tone of voice that it was a map of the world 
drawn true to scale. 

On it, however, China was by no means represented as the "Middle 
Kingdom" but merely as a relatively small country surrounded by great 
empires and peoples constituting the larger part of the earth. By means 
of this map and the explanations which the astute Li furnished to his 
visitors, they were made acquainted with the scarcely credible fact that 
there existed other great countries and nations besides China. On the day 
when the first Chinese gazed on the map in Doctor Li's room, a belief 
which had prevailed for three thousand years was shaken ; on that day, 
a new epoch began in the history of Chinese civilization. 

At first, Doctor Li's sensational statements met with many a challenge. 
Had not every classic authority hitherto taught that China was the cen- 
tre of the universe, and that all surrounding countries were small and 
insignificant ? Were not the ancients endued with the most profound 
knowledge, and who could presume to uphold anything that was not in 
accordance with their teachings ? 

Doctor Li expressed the utmost esteem and admiration for the wis- 
dom of the Chinese authorities, while at the same time conducting his 
guests around the room, so that they could not fail to observe the other 
maps, engravings and paintings hanging on the walls ; these depicted all 
that Europe boasted of in the way of large towns, architectural wonders, 
and artistic beauty. All these tended to show that the people of these coun- 
tries were not uncultured barbarians, as had previously been thought in 
China, but were at least the equals of the Chinese in technical knowl- 
edge and general culture. By the time his guests had completed their tour 
round Li's room, they had begun in some degree to doubt whether the 
classical authorities were altogether right in alleging the pre-eminence 
of China over all other countries. 

The more the mandarins and scholars discussed with Ricci, the greater 
became their esteem for those foreign peoples. If, in the countries out- 
side China, all the people were like Doctor Li, then much of considerable 
value to the Chinese Empire might be learnt from the Europeans. 

Among the first to apply the recognition of this fact to practical ad- 
vantage was the governor of Canton. It seemed to him to be highly desir- 
able that Doctor Li should acquaint the Chinese fully with all the devel- 
opments and discoveries of value in those countries ; China might equally 
well apply them to her own advantage. He also begged Ricci to give him 


a copy of his map of the world in which the names of all the countries, 
peoples and towns lying outside China should be in Chinese characters. 
He had copies of the map printed and sent to all his friends. The mission- 
ary wrote at that time to Rome saying that his map had brought it about 
"that by degrees the Chinese have been led to form quite a different con- 
ception of our countries, our peoples and above all of our men of learning 
from that which they formerly entertained." The displaying to the 
Chinese of the map of the world "was more effective than anything else 
that might have been done in China in those early days." 

It was not until much later, when the Chinese had become fully con- 
vinced of the fact that the Europeans were the equals of themselves, that 
Ricci proceeded step by step and with the utmost circumspection to speak 
of matters of faith. When one of his Chinese friends was visiting him 
for the tenth or twentieth time, he unobtrusively placed among his many 
books and drawings a picture of the Virgin Mary and other emblems of 
a religious character, and, when his guest asked what they represented, 
he answered quite curtly that they were emblems of the religion of 
Europe. He followed this up by making a casual remark about the good 
practices observed by the Christians, which in many respects reminded 
him of Chinese customs, and varied his theme in this connexion until 
the Chinese, filled with curiosity, pressed him to tell them more about the 
religion and customs of the Europeans. 

When, shortly after, the viceroy of the Province of Kwang-si invited 
the Jesuit father to visit his capital, Ricci was received on his arrival with 
all the homage becoming a learned and celebrated man, for already his 
map of the world was known everywhere. An exceptionally difficult task 
awaited him here, however : in Canton it had sufficed for him to convince 
the Chinese of the existence of civilized humanity outside China, whereas 
here, where were assembled a number of the most prominent men of 
learning, the task that confronted him was that of demonstrating the 
superiority of European learning over that of the Chinese. 

The scholars of Kiang-si were primarily mathematicians, and they 
possessed no small fund of knowledge in this science ; the ancient text- 
books of T'ung-chih-kang-mu had indeed set out not only the more ele- 
mentary methods of calculation and the measurement of superficial areas 
of all kinds, but also the method of extracting the square and cube roots 
as well as the rules of alligation, the bases of trigonometry and various 
by no means simple equations. 

But Ricci had not sat under Father Clavius at the College of Rome for 
nothing; the Chinese mathematicians could not confound him. Day and 







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night, he studied the works of the Chinese authors, until he had discov- 
ered errors and omissions. He compiled in the Chinese language a text- 
book on geometry based on Euclid, in which was set out fully and in 
systematic order everything of which the Chinese had previously only 
a fragmentary and imperfect knowledge. Ricci followed this by showing 
the Chinese professors how to construct sundials, and to make certain 
difficult astronomical calculations. Furthermore, since they were inter- 
ested in the study of the nature of sound, he explained to them the ele- 
mentary principles of acoustics, and, as the result of all this, excited their 
highest admiration. 

When then, later, he composed his first writings on morality and re- 
ligion, the Chinese already regarded him as "one of the most learned 
and greatest of teachers" and accepted his every word as a scientific 
revelation. He was fully familiar with the teachings of Confucius on 
the reconciliation of the divine law with the natural reason, and, if he 
now proceeded cautiously to announce Christianity in his tracts, he was 
careful to support his remarks with those passages in the classical Chi- 
nese literature which presented undoubted points of similarity with the 
teachings of Christianity. 

He transformed the catechism, so as to conform to Chinese ideas, into 
a learned dialogue between a Chinese philosopher and a Christian priest ; 
this work met with the best of receptions, and the highest mandarins 
considered it an honour to be presented by Ricci with a copy. A con- 
siderable time later the books of this missionary were included in the 
classical collection of the best Chinese literary works, and, in this way, 
as a Jesuit father wrote at the time, "the fragrance of our faith began to 
spread over the whole of China." 

It must be admitted that the number of men whom Ricci definitely 
converted to Christianity and baptized was uncommonly small; they 
were, however, in every instance, persons moving in the highest circles, 
mandarins and professors held in high esteem, and their conversion 
therefore represented an exceptionally valuable commendation of the 
doctrines of Christianity. 

Conversion through Clock and Calendar 

Surrounded by a double ring of mighty walls stood the imperial 
palace of Sin-ching in the Tatar town of Peking. These walls were more 
than thirty miles long and thirty feet high ; twelve horsemen could gal- 
lop abreast on them. At regular intervals along the walls stood strongly 


constructed watch-towers, through the embrasures in which stared 
the lances and guns of the troops stationed there at all times for the de- 
fence of the palace. 

The emperor bore the title of "Son of Heaven," for the gods had en- 
trusted him with the duty of guiding and governing the world in ac- 
cordance with their desires. The emperor's name was held in such awe 
and veneration that it was never uttered aloud, and the good Chinese 
subject even avoided the use of those written characters which occurred 
in the imperial monogram. No one outside the court officials had access 
to the palace, and among these only very few had ever seen the emperor 
in person. 

Matteo Ricci had, however, long decided to win over the emperor 
himself to the Christian faith, since only by so doing could he complete 
his work in the Middle Kingdom. He established himself outside the 
capital, and, after making the acquaintance of a high official, he re- 
quested the latter to take into the palace a present for the emperor ; this 
present was an ingenious and beautifully embellished European clock. 

The Chinese official took the missionary's gift to one of the gates of 
the palace, and handed it to the court official on duty there. At first, the 
official hesitated for a long time whether he should pass the gift on, but, 
when he had examined the clock more closely, it filled him with such 
wonderment that he called his superior officer up and showed him the 
strange marvel. Ricci's clock thereupon passed through the whole hier- 
archy of officials in the palace up to the highest minister, and ultimately 
reached the emperor himself. 

Even the "Son of Heaven" had never before seen a spring clock, and 
was filled with rapture by it. Of course, it was far beneath his exalted 
dignity to make even the suggestion of an inquiry about the mortal who 
had sent him this present. On the following morning, however, the clock 
suddenly stopped ticking. The emperor summoned one of his officials to 
set it going again, but all the efforts of the mandarin were vain. The 
whole of the royal household in turn tried their skill, but not one among 
them could set the clock going again. 

At last, the emperor permitted himself to inquire who it was that had 
brought the clock to the palace, and the question was passed down 
through the whole hierarchy of officials to the keeper of the gate. The 
emperor could not rest until the stranger should be found, and the clock 
set ticking again. 

Thus it came about that, escorted by two mandarins of the court, the 
astute Doctor Li passed through the mighty portals of the imperial 


palace, mounted a marble staircase guarded by two copper lions, and 
proceeded along the bank of the stream that wound its way right through 
the whole palace. Filled with astonishment, he observed the innumer- 
able artificially constructed lakes and hills, the many buildings roofed 
with golden-yellow glazed tiles, the dragon bridges made of black jasper 
and the numberless vases of marble and porcelain. 

After they had been walking for some considerable time, his escort 
conducted him through a second gigantic enceinte into a courtyard which 
seemed even more extensive and magnificent than the first. On a ter- 
race rose a large building of white marble where were assembled a num- 
ber of the highest mandarins clad in bright silken robes. 

These dignitaries surrounded the stranger, and one of them held out 
to him the clock and commanded him to set it going again. Doctor Li 
bowed with all due veneration, took the clock, opened it, and by a few 
quick movements did something to the works. He then returned the 
clock to the mandarin, and lo ! it was ticking away again just as it had 
done before. The mandarins gave polite expression to their wonderment, 
and thanked Doctor Li, after which he was conducted out of the palace 

On the following morning, much to the chagrin of the emperor, the 
clock stopped again, and the court officials were compelled once more 
to summon Doctor Li to the palace. This occurred a third time, and this 
time Li brought with him two religious paintings and a reliquary set 
with valuable stones. He asked to be allowed to present these as a hum- 
ble tribute to the Son of Heaven, along with an illuminated petition in 
the most elegant Chinese characters, which ran as follows : 

"Your humble subject is an authority on astronomy, geography, ge- 
ometry and arithmetic. By means of instruments, he studies the stars and 
has a knowledge of gnomonics. His methods are precisely the same as 
those of the Chinese professors. Should the emperor deem fit not to spurn 
an ignorant and unworthy man, but rather to permit him to turn to 
account his limited talents, then he could entertain no greater desire than 
to devote himself entirely to the service of so illustrious a sovereign." 

The offering and the petition were, in accordance with the prevailing 
ritual, submitted first of all to Li Pu, the Minister of Ceremonies; the 
latter passed it on with a by no means favourable report to the Grand 
Council of the court mandarins. 

"Europe," wrote Li Pu, "has nothing to do with us and does not ac- 
cept our laws. The pictures which Li Ma-teu brings as tribute depict a 
'Lord of the Heavens' and a Virgin and are of no particular value. The 


stranger is also offering a casket which, so he claims, contains the bones 
of immortals, as if immortals when they go to heaven did not take their 
bones with them ! In a similar case, the learned Rann Yu decided that 
such new and unfamiliar objects should not be introduced into the palace, 
since they brought ill luck. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the 
gifts should not be accepted, and that Li Ma-teu should not be permitted 
to stay at the court. He should be sent back to his own country." 

The emperor, however, preferred to decide otherwise. When he dis- 
missed the Jesuit father after the first audience, the Son of Heaven al- 
ready knew how the clock could be made to go again after it had run 
down ; nevertheless, he commanded Doctor Li to return on the following 
day, and the same happened on the succeeding day. 

The reason for this was that Ricci, on the first morning, told the em- 
peror of a new astronomical instrument that was in use in Europe, and 
gave better results than the old measuring instruments. The emperor 
accordingly wanted further information how this European gnomon 
was constructed. After Ricci had given a full explanation on the fol- 
lowing day, the interest of the emperor was aroused in a further branch 
of astronomy by an apparently casual remark of Doctor Li's. 

In this way, Ricci skilfully contrived at each audience to let fall a 
remark which excited the curiosity of the ruler, and caused him to order 
the missionary to return again. It was not long before the stranger who 
possessed such an amazing fund of knowledge became indispensable to 
the emperor. Some time later, he instructed the missionary to bring his 
brother-priests, of whom Ricci persistently spoke, to the court; these 
other Christian priests, Doctor Li asserted, were even better versed in 
astronomy than himself. 

Soon the Jesuits had established their residence within the "rose- 
coloured wall/' in the quarter where only the highest officials were per- 
mitted to reside, and a monthly allowance was made to them by the 
emperor in the form of rice and silver. The pious paintings on which the 
minister of ceremonies had once expressed himself so disparagingly 
now hung on the finest wall of the reception hall, and, in front of them, 
stood the reliquary on a magnificent, richly carved socle ; in large bronze 
receptacles incense was kept continually burning in front of these gifts 
of the foreign doctor, and, in sconces fashioned like gaily coloured 
birds, wax candles, on which were painted animals and flowers, burned 
day and night. Such was the honour in which the gifts of Doctor Li were 
now held. 

Eventually, Ricci was entrusted with the task of instructing the em- 


peror's favourite son in the mathematical sciences and in ethics. As an 
inevitable sequel, the ministers also invited Doctor Li to visit them, and 
likewise sought his regular instruction in the mathematical sciences and 
ethics. In a short time, many baptisms took place at the court of Peking. 

When Ricci died, there were already over three hundred Christian 
bells to be heard in the Chinese Empire; the emperor announced his 
readiness to provide for Ricci's burial, and, for this purpose, he pre- 
sented to the missionaries a large plot of land. The new fathers who 
succeeded Doctor Li were likewise held in the highest respect at the court 
and their advice was sought in all matters of state. 

When, in the northern part of the empire, certain mandarins expressed 
their disapproval of the ever-increasing power of the foreign priests, the 
prime minister issued a decree in which the virtues of the Jesuits were 
extolled in fulsome terms : "Professor Li was the first to come to China 
from the Far West in order to teach Christianity. The emperor received 
him as a guest, accorded him a pension, and provided for his burial. Since 
that time, the learned men from the West have continued to arrive in the 
capital. . . . Princes and ministers, viceroys, governors and district 
chiefs all respect and love the strangers and look up to them. . . . 

"You people who dwell on the land, do you then deem yourselves more 
enlightened than the heaven-inspired emperor, or the ministers who are 
the scholars of the learned Confucius? Be persuaded that in the hearts 
of these learned men from the Far West there is neither lust for fame 
nor lust for worldly gain ! Nine times ten thousand miles have they trav- 
elled in their journey to our country, defying monsters and cannibals 
merely that they might save us from eternal damnation. Was there ever 
such nobleness of spirit ! . . . 

"I say to you then, men of learning and common people, cast aside 
your prejudices, overcome your hostility, take up the books of the wise 
men from the West, and study them profoundly. From them you will 
receive enlightenment, and thereafter tremble with dismay at your for- 
mer errors !" 

The highest law of China was the Tao, the law of the universe, ac- 
cording to which the stars followed their courses, the moon moved across 
the heavens, the sun was veiled in darkness, plants sprouted from the 
soil, trees assumed their canopy of foliage, streams rippled on their ways 
and the seas ebbed and flowed. Man's aim must be to adapt his life and 
actions in accordance with the operation of the Tao ; only by so doing 
could he hope, in harmony with the divine ordering, to attain happiness 
and prosperity. 


To the emperor, the gods had delegated the task of directing the peo- 
ple by laws and regulations, so that man's Tao should harmonize 
with that of the Deity; to this end, the primary duty of the ruler was 
to provide his subjects from year to year with an accurate calen- 

Long ago, the Emperor Yao had arranged for the issue of a Book of 
Indications for the Seasons, and not a single year had gone by since 
without the preparation by the imperial "Tribunal of Mathematics," with 
the help of the instruments installed on the southern wall of the palace, 
of careful astronomical calculations. 

It had been known for a long time that the duration of the year was 
365 days and 6 hours; it was also known that 19 revolutions of the sun 
coincided with 325 revolutions of the moon, and by means of clepsydras 
the culminating periods of the principal constellations and the periods 
of the moon as well as those of the planets had been calculated with a 
considerable degree of accuracy. The Chinese astronomers thus pos- 
sessed sufficient data to enable them to forecast fairly accurately each 
year the astronomical events which might be anticipated during the year. 
The new calendar was issued to the accompaniment of a special cere- 
monial. The officials of the mathematical tribunal proceeded in ceremo- 
nial apparel to the "Dragon Pavilion," and there deposited the copies of 
the calendar destined for the use of the emperor and his consorts ; then 
those for the royal princes and the highest dignitaries were placed on red 
tables in other pavilions, and, finally, as a token of homage to the new 
law of the year, followed a solemn procession throughout the whole of 
the palace. The calendar determined, on the basis of a close study of 
macrocosmic events, when certain actions should or should not be per- 
formed. It indicated in red and black letters what days and hours were 
favourable for cultivation of the soil, marriage, changes of residence, 
the repairing of ships, hunting, the pasturing of cattle, burials and exe- 
cutions. Whoever observed correctly the promptings of the calendar 
could always be certain of the success of his undertakings. 

To the emperor the calendar was of primary importance as the instru- 
ment by which he was enabled to maintain order in his empire. The ab- 
solute obedience which every Chinese was ready to show to the divine 
Tao expressed itself in complete submission to the ruler, for had he not 
provided them with the most important of all books ? 

If the commencement of the new year, the "Cheng," had been cor- 
rectly fixed by the mathematical tribunal, and the calendar was therefore 
accurate, peace and order throughout the empire were assured. Then the 


emperor ruled in accordance with the laws of heaven, the officials exer- 
cised their office faithfully, and the tiller of the soil could rejoice over a 
good harvest. If, however, the "Cheng" had been wrongly fixed, or if 
some other error had slipped into the calculations of the astronomers, 
then, instead of directing the people unerringly in accordance with the 
Tao, the calendar on the contrary led the people away from the true 
system of the universe ; those terrible calamities would happen against 
which the wise Yue'-ling had uttered such urgent warning. 

Now for many years past it had happened that the harvests had be- 
come poorer and poorer, executions had grown more and more numer- 
ous, the ministers had become self-seeking in their administration and 
stole like ravens. The Emperor Wan-li of the Ming dynasty could scarcely 
any longer enforce his orders, for the whole empire was in a ferment. 
It was more and more frequently stated at the imperial court, in the pal- 
aces of the mandarins and in the simple huts of the coolies that the Mid- 
dle Kingdom was falling into chaos, because the government was no 
longer possessed of the true divine Tao. 

In great concern, the emperor discussed dqy and night with his min- 
isters how to avert this increasing evil, and, in his perplexity, he turned 
at last to the Jesuits. The fathers pondered for a long time, made meas- 
urements, covered sheets of paper with calculations, and finally estab- 
lished the fact that the mathematical tribunal had made grave errors in 
the framing of the calendar; for a long time past, they asserted, the 
astronomical calculations of the tribunal had been faulty, and the celes- 
tial kingdom had accordingly for decades past been governed by false 

This allegation caused great consternation in the imperial palace. As 
was only natural, certain wortliy mandarins arose in defence of the old 
tradition, and voiced their strong indignation that foreign priests should 
make so bold as to criticize their ancient institutions ; it was not long, 
however, before the heavens themselves bore witness in favour of the 
Jesuits. In China, eclipses of the sun were regarded as exceptionally 
important phenomena ; the emperor had to be informed of the impending 
occurrence at least a month in advance, and all the exalted mandarins 
were required to assemble at the prescribed time, bearing the insignia of 
their rank, in the courtyard of the astronomical tribunal. It happened 
that the Jesuits had predicted an eclipse of the sun for a certain day, and 
had, in fact, announced the exact hour at which it would take place, al- 
though in the official calendar there appeared no indication of any such 


When it actually happened that the sun began to grow dark, that all 
the dignitaries assembled together threw themselves down and beat the 
ground with their foreheads in accordance with the prescribed ritual, 
when throughout the town the beating of drums and cymbals was heard, 
then, indeed, the Jesuits had won a lasting victory, for it had been clearly 
shown that the methods of calculation used by the Chinese astronomers 
were of no value, and that the calendar in accordance with which the 
empire was governed was, in fact, inaccurate. 

The emperor immediately issued an order that, in future, the mathe- 
matical tribunal should no longer, as hitherto, follow the Mohammedan 
system, but should adopt the European system of calculation ; the Jesuit 
Father Adam von Schall was also commissioned to carry out the reform 
of the calendar. Henceforward, he was regarded as a second Confucius, 
as a man of exceptional learning whom heaven itself had sent to restore 
the disturbed ordering of the universe. As the result of his efforts, it was 
confidently anticipated that henceforward the harvests would be more 
fruitful, that the administrative officials would no longer steal, and that 
the unrest in the country would come to an end. 

Before, however, the improved system of calculation of the calendar 
initiated by Father Schall could be fully developed, there came upon the 
dynasty of the Ming emperors those disasters which could only be the 
inevitable consequence of government in accordance with false calen- 
dars. Internal disturbances were rife, and the Tatars in the north and 
west of the empire profited by this fact to break through the Chinese 

Once again, the Jesuits proved true friends to the emperor, in that 
they now showed themselves to be quite as well versed in military affairs 
as they were in astronomy. Just when the ministers and generals were 
at their wits' end how to withstand the attack of the Tatars, Father 
Schall offered to initiate the Chinese into the art of casting guns, and 
to establish an arsenal on European lines without delay. 

Under the direction of the fathers, the manufacture of. guns was 
eagerly pushed forward, and it was to the missionaries that the task of 
training their crews was entrusted. As the result, it soon became possible 
to confront the Tatars with a Chinese army equipped with superior ar- 
tillery, and, finally, the invaders were compelled to retire again beyond 
the Great Wall. 

Nevertheless, the Jesuit fathers had come too late to China to be able 
to bring the rule of the Ming emperors into complete harmony with the 
law of the Tao. Some little time later, disorder broke out again ; an army 


of rebels advanced to the capital, and even took the imperial palace. The 
Son of Heaven saw no possibility of evading capture, and committed 
suicide. In the midst of the general confusion, one of the Chinese gen- 
erals called in the Tatar Manchus to help in repressing the rebels. They 
came and suppressed the rising, but advanced immediately upon Peking 
to seize the empire for themselves. The last prince of the house of Ming 
died in exile in the south of the country, after he and his mother had 
adopted Christianity and submitted to baptism, at which he took the 
name of Constantine. 

The Jesuits, however, continued to serve the Manchu emperors with 
the same fidelity with which they had served the Ming emperors, since 
to them it was all the same in the end who governed China, provided that 
the possibility still remained open to them of winning the Middle King- 
dom for Christianity by slow and methodical work. The new rulers, in 
spite of their Tatar origin, also regarded themselves as "Sons of 
Heaven," on whom devolved the duty of ruling the world in accordance 
with the laws of the Tao ; they therefore needed a reliable calendar, and, 
as a consequence, the help of the Jesuit astronomers. 

In the early decades of the Manchu rule, it was also evident that things 
were by no means proceeding smoothly for the new dynasty. The young 
Emperor Shun-chi lost his favourite wife and their only child, and this 
bereavement so upset him that he abdicated and retired into a Buddhist 
monastery. If further misfortunes of this nature were to be averted, it 
was of supreme importance to devote the utmost attention to the prep- 
aration of the calendar; accordingly, Father Schall was appointed di- 
rector of the mathematical tribunal, and given the rank of "Mandarin 
of the First Class." 

At that time, the emperor issued an edict, in which not only European 
science, but also "the law of the divine Ruler," that is, Christianity, was 
extolled. Ten eunuchs of the court, including the favourite servant of 
the emperor, accepted baptism, and, even if the Son of Heaven himself 
could not -be induced to take the same step, he nevertheless afforded 
the missionaries his protection and allowed them full freedom to 
preach, even acquiescing in the establishment of a Christian church in 

Father Schall further acquired very considerable distinction as a mili- 
tary adviser, and continued to conduct his course of instruction in artil- 
lery. His authority grew to such an extent that soon the usual jealous 
rivals, enemies and intriguers began to make their appearance. The mo- 
ment for their appearance was propitious, in that the Council of Regents, 


who at that time were governing on behalf of the Emperor K'ang-hi, a 
minor, were little disposed to regard innovations with favour. 

The Mohammedan mathematician Yam-kam-siem, who himself 
aspired to become president of the mathematical tribunal, proceeded to 
accuse Father Schall of treason against the state, alleging that his pres- 
ence in China was hostile in purpose, and therefore constituted a grave 
danger to the government. 

The Regency council were not quite sure of their authority and scented 
conspiracies everywhere; Schall was arrested, tried and finally con- 
demned to death. It was ordered that the improvements introduced by 
the Jesuits in the methods of calculation of the calendar should be aban- 
doned, and their books burnt. Yam-kam-siem was appointed chief of 
the mathematical tribunal. 

Nevertheless, Schall was not to terminate his career under the exe- 
cutioner's blade, nor was Yam-kam-siem to occupy the seat of president 
of the tribunal. It came to pass that, after the calendar had again been 
calculated on the old methods, the mandarins assembled one day in the 
courtyard of the mathematical tribunal, and awaited in vain an eclipse 
of the sun which Yam-kam-siem had predicted ; the sun did not show the 
slightest inclination to accommodate itself to the calculations of the 
chief astronomer. 

The Jesuit Father Verbiest had, however, declared some weeks earlier 
that this eclipse of the sun would occur on a different day and at a differ- 
ent hour ; as, however, no one had paid heed to the words of the mission- 
ary, the authorities neglected to greet with the prescribed ceremonial this 
momentous phenomenon when it did in fact occur in accordance with 
Verbiest's predictions. 

Thus a further striking proof was furnished of the incompetence of 
Yam-kam-siem and of the accuracy of the Jesuit calculations. If the 
empire was not to collapse, there was no alternativetfnrt to entrust the 
Jesuits once again with the fixing of the calendar. Father Verbiest was 
accordingly summoned before the emperor, to whom he straightway de- 
clared that not only were the calculations of the Chinese astronomers in- 
accurate, but that, furthermore, the ancient instruments of the Peking 
astronomers, which dated back to the time of Kublai Khan, no longer 
functioned correctly. He expressed his readiness, however, to construct 
new and thoroughly reliable apparatus, such as was used by the great 
European astronomer, Tycho Brahe. 

Before scarce a year had passed, the new Jesuit observatory had been 
erected on the summit of a hill, equipped with the necessary instruments . 


an armillary sphere for determining the position of the stars, an astrolabe 
for calculating the length and breadth of the celestial bodies, instruments 
for determining altitudes and azimuths and a telescope. Verbiest had had 
all these instruments made exactly in accordance with Tycho Brahe's 
calculations, and at the same time he did not forget to ornament them 
in the Chinese style with a variety of dragons' heads and Chinese 

Henceforward, the eclipses of the sun occurred as predicted in the 
calendar, for Yam-kam-siem had been dismissed in ignominy and Ver- 
biest had succeeded him. The ministry of ceremonies, which, at the time 
of Schall's trial, had expressed open hostility to Christianity, now equally 
openly expressed the view that the religion of the strangers was in no 
respect inimical to the interests of the state, but that, on the contrary, 
the Christian moral code could only be described as "altogether admir- 
able." All orders and dispositions issued against the missionaries were 
cancelled and those Jesuits who had been arrested were awarded com- 
pensation by the government. 

When Father Verbiest died, the emperor arranged for an elaborate 
burial ceremony, such as accompanied the funeral of only the highest 
dignitaries. Distinguished mandarins, including the emperor's brother- 
in-law, the officer in charge of the emperor's bodyguard and the 
commandant of the palace, were required to accompany the bier on 
horseback. The Christians from the capital and neighbouring districts, 
bearing candles and banners, led the procession, being followed by 
the missionaries in white robes, whilst fifty horsemen of the Imperial 
Guard closed the procession. 

When, some time later, the viceroy of a certain province was inclined 
to persecute the missionaries and their Chinese converts, the Emperor 
K'ang-hi issued a decree in terms which secured them full toleration. 
"The men from the West," declared the ruler, "have ensured the accurate 
calculation of the calendar ; during the war, they repaired the old guns 
and manufactured new ones. They have, therefore, served well the inter- 
ests of the empire, and have always spared no efforts in this direction. 
Although full liberty is granted to attend the Lamaist, Buddhist and 
other temples, there to burn incense, you would deny similar liberty to 
the Europeans, who are guilty of no unlawful conduct. This discrimina- 
tion appears to us to be illogical, and we are of the opinion that hencefor- 
ward none shall be prevented from burning incense in the temples of the 
Lord of Heaven." By virtue of this edict, the freedom of the Christian 
faith was henceforward formally recognized in China. 


Teachers and Diplomats at the Peking Court 

"They may all come to my court, and those who understand mathe- 
matics may remain with me in my service." Thus the Emperor K'ang-hi 
decided when the Jesuit fathers sought his consent to a proposal to bring 
additional members of the order from France. 

Father Schall, to whom the education of the young emperor had been 
entrusted, had managed to instil into the boy a lively thirst for knowl- 
edge; it was on account of Schall's teaching that K'ang-hi, during the 
whole of his life, was governed by the desire for further knowledge and 
that it was his constant endeavour to obtain precise information on all 
subjects between heaven and earth. 

Who other than the learned Jesuit fathers could have satisfied and at 
the same time stimulated K'ang-hi 's curiosity? When Father Schall 
closed his eyes, he could commend his soul in peace to the mercy of the 
Lord, for he knew that his pupil would all his life ask questions, and that, 
so long as K'ang-hi did this, the Jesuits would enjoy power and respect 
at his court. 

Every morning, the emperor called the fathers to him, in order that 
they might explain to him some physical law, mathematical equation, or 
geometrical construction, the solution of which he had wrestled with in 
vain during the night. Even during the day, the ruler often left the most 
important matters of state, and hastened to the Jesuits because an astro- 
nomical calculation had come into his mind which he was himself not 
able to master. In the evening, fresh questions still occurred to him, and 
only with difficulty could he tear himself away from his European teach- 
ers in order to take a short rest. 

Soon, he became so that a mere theoretical knowledge no longer 
sufficed him, and, when the missionaries had explained a geometrical 
construction to him, he wanted to prove by a practical test that the calcu- 
lations made were correct. For this purpose, he had made, from various 
materials, cubes, pyramids, cylinders and cones, and he found their area, 
height and volume. With the fathers, he computed the weight of differ- 
ent spheres of given diameter, or their diameters from given weights, 
and he gave his instructors no rest until they had performed with him the 
levelling of a river. With the aid of his newly acquired trigonometrical 
knowledge, he determined the width of streams and ponds, or the height 
of buildings, and he was immensely pleased when the result arrived at 
was confirmed by measurement. 

One day, Father Benoit presented him with a chart of the heavens and 




fc ' 











an explanation in Chinese which contained an outline of the system of 
Copernicus. From this, K'ang-hi learned for the first time of the turning 
of the earth round the sun, and these ideas put him into such a state of 
excitement that for days he received not a single official of his court ; 
the most pressing affairs of state he left unattended, while he endeav- 
oured to master the new and wonderful view of the world which had 
been disclosed to him. 

After this, there came in turn chemical and medical problems, fol- 
lowed by the puzzles of optics and acoustics and, finally, the endless field 
of philosophical speculation opened before the emperor. 

K'ang-hi soon found that he could not live without his Jesuits. In 
order that he might have them near him, he set aside all rules of court 
etiquette. He permitted them to be seated in his presence, while those in 
the highest offices and even the imperial princes had to remain kneeling 
in the presence of the Son of Heaven. Occasionally he so far forgot his 
dignity as to pay visits to the missionaries, to converse with them for 
hours at a time. 

The missionaries had to rise at four in the morning, so that they might 
attend their impatient master at the right moment ; only at nightfall were 
they dismissed, and they had then to prepare the imperial lesson for the 
following day. Left alone, the emperor sedulously repeated the lesson 
he had just learnt, read over the notes of the fathers, and explained to 
his sons what he had himself learnt only a short time before. 

As K'ang-hi would not let a day pass without receiving some instruc- 
tion, Father Gerbillon had to accompany him even on a journey to Ta- 
tary. The missionary reported the pompous meeting of the emperor with 
the Tatar nobles, described the splendid ceremony of the "Great Kotow," 
and the banquet at which some eight hundred Tatar princes were pres- 
ent. Even then, K'ang-hi dismissed all the guests as quickly as possible 
in order to talk with Gerbillon on the subject of the ecliptic and the 
earth's orbit. 

Finally, with great circumspection, the Jesuits turned their talk to the 
subject of Christianity, and so won the emperor over to this religion 
that K'ang-hi presented them with land on which to build a church, 
and contributed ten thousand taels towards the cost of its erection. When 
the church was completed, K'ang-hi gave the Jesuits an inscription, 
which he had himself composed, to be placed over the door. It contained 
a regular form of worship of the Christian God, who was described as 
the "true Creator of all things without beginning and without end." 

Further, the fathers told him so much about the dignity and power of 


the pope that K'ang-hi proposed a marriage relationship with the Prince 
of Christendom, and wrote a letter to the pope in which he sought the 
hand of the latter's niece. 

The original of this strange document, which is preserved in the ar- 
chives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, begins with this al- 
locution : "To you, Clement, most blessed of all popes, blessed and great 
Emperor of all Popes and Christian Churches, Lord of the Kings of 
Europe and Friend of God ! 

'The most powerful of all powers on earth," it continues, "who is 
greater than all who are great under the sun and the moon ; who sits on 
the emerald throne of the Chinese Empire, raised upon a hundred golden 
steps, in order to expound the word of God to all faithful subjects ; who 
exercises the power of life and death over a hundred and fifteen king- 
doms and a hundred and seventy isles, writes this epistle with the virgin 
feather of an ostrich. 

"All hail and long life! 

"The time has come when the bloom of Our Imperial Youth shall 
bring to maturity the fruit of our age, so that at the same time the desire 
of our true subjects may be fulfilled and a successor to the Throne given 
to them for their protection. We have resolved, therefore, to unite our- 
selves in marriage with a beautiful and distinguished maiden, who has 
been nurtured on the milk of a courageous lioness and of a tender roe. 
Since the Roman people have always had the reputation of progenitors 
of brave, chaste and unsurpassable women, we would stretch forth our 
powerful hand, and take one of them to wife. We hope that it may be 
your niece or that of another great priest on whom God looks with 
favour. . . . 

"We wish her to have the eyes of a dove contemplating heaven and 
earth, and the lips of a mussel feeding upon the dawn ; her age shall 
not exceed two hundred moons ; she shall not have grown taller than 
a blade of green wheat, and her girth shall be as a handful of dried 
corn. . . . 

"In gratifying our desire, Father and Friend, you will create an alli- 
ance and eternal friendship between your kingdom and our powerful 
land. Our laws will be combined as a creeper clings to a tree. We shall 
ourselves disseminate our royal blood through many provinces, and shall 
warm the beds of your princes with our daughters, whose portraits the 
mandarins as our ambassadors will bring to you. . . . 

"In the meantime we rise from our throne to embrace you. We de- 
clare to you that this letter is sealed with the Seal of our Empire, in our 


Capital of the World, on the third day of the eighth moon in the fourth 
year of our reign." 

The marriage project was, however, never realized; nevertheless, 
Christianity made rapid progress in the family of the emperor ; some of 
the thirty-five sons and twenty daughters of K'ang-hi were baptized. 
The result of the extraordinary partiality of the emperor was that the 
missionaries enjoyed the greatest respect among the people, and that 
they were able to make many converts; Christian communities and 
churches sprang up in all parts of China. 

Soon, a further opportunity offered itself to the fathers for the exten- 
sion of their missionary activities. K'ang-hi charged them with the task 
of preparing a new map of the whole empire, and, in carrying out this 
command, the fathers had to travel far. Since they appeared as commis- 
saries of the emperor, and were accompanied by large escorts, their ar- 
rival everywhere made a deep impression, and gave moral support to an 
extraordinary degree to Christianity in the provinces. On these geo- 
graphical expeditions, the missionaries at the same time visited the Chris- 
tian communities, regulated their affairs, and made arrangements for 
the erection of new churches. 

A political conflict soon made it possible for them to render useful 
service to the emperor in another direction. Owing to incessant disputes 
in the Sino-Russian border provinces, there was a danger of war, and, 
since some of the more dangerous Tatar races threatened to take sides 
with Russia against China, efforts were made in Peking to avoid open 
conflict. But in this the Manchus lacked experience in diplomatic negotia- 
tions, and they failed to find a reasonable basis for agreement. The Jes- 
uits arranged a peace conference, and even took part in the discussion 
as interpreters and mediators. 

Father Gerbillon went immediately to the camp of the Russians, and 
explained to them how advantageous it would be for them to obtain 
from the Chinese, in exchange for certain territorial concessions, a prof- 
itable commercial treaty. The Russians were sufficiently good traders to 
perceive the reason in Gerbillon's statements, and declared themselves 
ready to withdraw from the disputed territory in China, if they could 
have, in return, permission to send a trade delegation each year to Pe- 
king. In the late evening, when Gerbillon returned to the Chinese camp, 
he brought with him a complete commercial treaty, the terms of which 
were in every way acceptable to the Chinese. Two days later, the agree- 
ment was signed ; it was the first treaty the Chinese had concluded with 
a European power. 


Great importance was attached in China to the part played by the 
Jesuits in this diplomatic success ; the most distinguished mandarins con- 
gratulated them, and Prince Sosan, the official leader of the peace dele- 
gation, thanked them most courteously for the valuable services they had 

The missionaries who had stood faithfully by the side of the emperor 
in all phases of his government also showed themselves to be valued help- 
ers when K'ang-hi, aged, weary, sick and tormented by pain, began to 
pine away. 

The Fathers Gerbillon and Bouvet appeared at once in the ruler's sick- 
room, and brought with them a box of little balls of dough ; these had, 
they assured him, cured the mighty Dauphin of France of a serious ill- 
ness. And, in fact, scarcely had K'ang-hi taken a number of these pills 
when he felt himself quite restored to health again, and with renewed 
strength he could apply himself to the government of the empire and 
the theorems of Euclid. 

Some months later, he again fell sick with a malignant fever, which 
set in with greater intensity at the same hour each day. The missionaries 
were again called to him, and they saw at once that K'ang-hi was suffering 
from intermittent fever. They recommended the use of a curative bark 
which the brothers of the order had discovered in India; it was the 
"Jesuits' bark" which later was to be known all over the world as "china 

But in this the fathers met for the first time with some opposition from 
the imperial family. The crown prince protested that his father was 
asked to take a medicine which was unknown in China, and he said that 
it was not known whether it ^yould not do the emperor harm. As the con- 
dition of K'ang-hi was becoming steadily worse, it was finally decided 
that the effects of the medicine should at first be tried on four princes. 
After this test had been successfully carried out, it was resolved to give 
the bark to the emperor. The next day the expected fever attack did not 
appear, and the same thing happened on the following day. 

Soon after his recovery, K'ang-hi went out from the palace into the 
town with a great following, and he permitted the people, who were 
generally driven away when the emperor was riding in the town, to 
remain in the streets, a thing which had never happened before. Among 
those accompanying him were the four fathers, Gerbillon, Bouvet, Fon- 
teney and Visdelon ; they were allowed to stand while even the highest 
officials went down on their knees and touched the ground with their 







In a loud voice, the emperor then said, turning towards the mission- 
aries : "You Europeans have always served me with zeal and affection, 
and I have not the least thing for which to reproach you. Many Chinese 
mistrust you, but I, who have carefully watched all your movements, am 
so convinced of your honesty and probity that I openly and publicly say : 
You shall be believed and trusted !" K'ang-hi then proceeded to tell the 
people how ill he had been, and how the foreigners had restored him 
to health again. 

Twice had the Jesuits saved the ruler ; a third time, when he returned 
from hunting with severe inflammation of the lungs, they were able to 
do no more for him than to ease his passing. They calmed his wildly 
beating heart with an electuary, and then gave him some of their mass 
wine to drink which they obtained every year from Manila; it is the 
blood of Christ, they told the emperor, and the wine from the Christian 
altar did in effect renew the sick man's strength for a short time. K'ang-hi 
died with reverence for the Christian God who had helped him pass 
the last hours of his life without pain and in a peaceful spirit. 

Meanwhile, rumours of the wonderful remedies of the Europeans had 
spread throughout China. Hundreds of sick persons rushed to the fa- 
thers, and all received medical treatment. In this, the missionaries had 
abundant opportunities to speak of their beliefs and to move the grate- 
ful patients they had cured to become baptized. Thus many souls were 
gained for the Kingdom of Christ with the aid of French pills, Indian 
powders and Spanish wine. 

The Order of Gardeners mid "Lightning Artists" 

The accession of the new emperor, Yung-cheng, to the throne ushered 
in a period of trouble and persecution for the Christians in China. While 
he was crown prince, K'ang-hi's son had not concealed his dislike of the 
Europeans and their beliefs ; after his accession, he appeared to pay still 
more attention to the insinuations of his anti-Christian counsellors. 

The imperial censor Fan now declared in a memoir : "The Europeans 
teach a false and dangerous religion. They maintain that the God of 
Heaven was born at the time when Han-gai-ti reigned in China, in a dis- 
trict named Yu-ye-a. He had taken the blood of a holy and virgin maid 
named Ma-li-ya, and from it formed his human body. Under the name 
of Ye-su, he lived thirty-three years, and then he atoned for the sins of 
the people on a cross. 

"We have not this belief, and it has not been handed down to us from 


antiquity. Those who accept this law receive the so-called baptism ; older 
Christians are instructed in secret mysteries, and drink the holy sub- 
stance. I do not know what magic this is. 

"They do not observe the customs of the empire, but have their own 
rites and books. Is this not acting in opposition to the ruling powers? 
Is it that our old doctrines are insufficient? There is already a large 
number of Christians in the precincts of the court, and, if something is 
not soon done to check their activity, they will eventually overrun the 

An inquiry into Christianity was instituted by the Tribunal of Rites 
in Peking, and, as the emperor was ill-disposed towards the mission- 
aries, this judicial inquiry found against the Europeans and their re- 
ligion. Soon afterwards, Yung-cheng issued an edict, under which num- 
erous Christian churches and communities were destroyed, and three 
hundred thousand Chinese converts were arrested and forced to abjure. 

This difficult situation, however, gave the Jesuits at the court a fur- 
ther opportunity of showing what they were able to do for the glory 
of God; the disfavour of the new ruler served only to urge them to in- 
crease their activities to the utmost, and in this way save the results of 
long and painstaking labour from destruction. 

A short time after the accession of Yung-cheng, when a Russian mis- 
sion came to Peking to conclude an important commercial treaty with 
the Chinese government, it again happened that the Jesuit fathers were 
the only people who knew how to negotiate with the Russian delegates. 
Again, when the first Chinese ambassador was being sent to Russia, the 
fathers alone knew what instructions he must take with him, and how 
his credentials should be worded if he were to be favourably received by 
the tsar in St. Petersburg. 

In the end, the Jesuits carried on the negotiations with the Russian 
plenipotentiaries almost unaided, and reached a settlement which was 
more favourable to China than had been expected. The result of this 
success of the missionaries led the emperor to have a better opinion of 
them, and Father Parrenin made use of this opportunity to obtain a con- 
siderable alleviation of the measures directed against the Christians. 

Yung-cheng had not inherited his father's interest in scientific mat- 
ters, and had little understanding of mathematics and astronomy; he 
recognized, however, that the Jesuits were better acquainted with public 
administration than his own ministers ; henceforth, therefore, he treated 
the missionaries in a friendly manner, and even allowed them to fetch 
two brothers of the order to the court from Europe. 


Thus the Jesuits had once again risen to an influential position, and the 
imperial favour which they now enjoyed also protected in a considerable 
degree the Christian communities in the whole of China; the mandarins 
in the provinces dared not proceed harshly against a religion the priests 
of which enjoyed such great respect in Peking. 

During the reign of K'ien-lung, the next ruler of the Manchu dynasty, 
the missionaries and the Chinese Christians once more suffered a serious 
setback. K'ien-lung had only hate and mistrust for foreign beliefs, which 
he regarded as dangerous to the state, and, consequently, he soon issued 
decrees which aimed at the total extermination of Christianity. 

This time, the situation appeared hopeless, for no person below a min- 
ister or lord dared make representation to the emperor and move him to 
moderate his edicts. Whatever K'ien-lung commanded had immediately 
to be done and his word had to be regarded as the word of greatest wis- 
dom and as a direct command from heaven. 

This fourth ruler of the Manchu dynasty was prouder than even the 
proudest of the Mings had been. He lived in close seclusion in his palace, 
the rooms of which contained the most magnificent works of art and 
jewels procured in China, Japan and India. Surrounded only by his wives 
and eunuchs, K'ien-lung was like a god devoted to his own adoration. 
When ministers and princes reported to him, they had to lie on the floor 
with their faces to the ground, silently await the emperor's commands, 
and immediately carry them out to the very letter, as though they were 
divine instructions. 

If K'ien-lung left the palace in order to pass through the streets of 
the capital, mounted soldiers would, the day before, gallop through the 
streets along which the emperor intended to pass to ensure that all shops 
were closed, and that all doors and windows were covered with thick 
cloth, so that no mortal might gaze on the august ruler. 

So for a long time the Jesuits found no opportunity of speaking to a 
potentate so wrapped up in his own godliness, and of inducing him to 
adopt a more lenient attitude towards the Christian doctrines. Of course, 
the fathers still held the presidency of the mathematical tribunal, because 
there was nobody besides themselves who knew exactly how to compute 
the annual calendar. And so the Jesuit president of the tribunal had 
from time to time to submit his reports to the emperor along with 
the other dignitaries ; this, however, had to be done while extended on 
the ground, and the emperor honoured him as little as he did the other 

It made no impression on the emperor, when, as was often the case, the 


other fathers whom the former emperor had permitted to come to Pe- 
king, and who were living there, showed themselves to be skilful in 
mathematics and diplomacy. With the indifference of a true and exalted 
son of God, he took the services rendered to him without a word, and he 
did not for a moment consider it necessary to show himself grateful by 
being especially gracious. 

At the time, however, when it seemed as if all further efforts of the 
Jesuits in China were to be hopeless, K'ien-lung's assumption of divinity 
came to their aid and made it possible for them to approach him. K'ien- 
lung had always felt that his palace and his garden, in spite of their 
sumptuousness, were not sufficiently magnificent to serve as the resi- 
dence of the most illustrious son of God. Unceasingly, he pondered how 
he could improve the luxury of his earthly abode. 

He had the walls of his rooms covered with pure gold and precious 
stones, and the best painters in the empire were required to cover this 
golden background with birds and flowers. He applied himself eagerly 
to the development of his summer residence, Yoen-ming-yoen. The gar- 
dens by which the many pavilions and temples were linked up surpassed 
everything that had ever been done in any part of the world ; since na- 
ture alone could not satisfy the tastes of the emperor, artificial moun- 
tains, valleys, forests and rivers had been made ; large and small brooks 
wound their way through pleasant valleys round artificial bends, the 
banks now narrowing between artificial hills and rocks, now widening 
again to become lakes on which floated luxurious boats. 

On a rocky island in the middle of one of these lakes stood the great 
palace with more than a hundred apartments ; from here could best be 
seen the other buildings, which numbered more than two hundred. Gal- 
leries, avenues, terraces, amphitheatres, forests of flowers were all 
united in a picture of incomparable charm. 

But still the emperor was not satisfied ; he constantly sought out paint- 
ers, gardeners and technicians, who might make the walls of his pavilions 
still more beautiful and the artificial landscape of his gardens still more 

These painters, gardeners and mechanics were at the same time the 
only persons who had free entry to all parts of the imperial palace. And, 
further, as K'ien-lung personally supervised the various works it was 
the workers and artists alone who were in a position to see the ruler at 
close quarters. 

When the Jesuits heard of the emperor's passion, the Society suddenly 
appeared to be a guild of painters and architects, Christianity assumed 


the semblance of a doctrine designed for gardeners. If the emperor be- 
came dissatisfied with the manner in which his gardens were laid out, if 
his ministers combed Peking for the best horticulturists they could 
find, then the Jesuits would apply, declaring that there was nothing con- 
nected with this art with which they were not thoroughly conversant. If 
K'ien-lung sought for somebody to beautify his ponds and brooks, the 
Jesuits informed him that nobody knew better than they how to do such 
work. They were portrait-painters when the emperor desired portrait- 
ists, and, if he wished to decorate his walls with birds and flowers, a 
father was immediately found who was highly skilled in this work. 
Within a short time, a group of Jesuit missionaries were occupying the 
small house set aside for the various handicraftsmen and technical work- 
ers at the entrance to the gardens of the summer palace, and the fathers 
themselves belonged to that small band of favourites who dwelt in close 
proximity to the exalted son of God. 

As at times they worked in the innermost rooms of the private resi- 
dence of the emperor, and at other times in the gardens or in the pavilions 
of the imperial family, they went everywhere and saw everything in 
the palace, and nothing remained unrevealed to them. They saw also 
that strange private town which K J ien-lung had had built, and which 
had no equal in the whole world. In order to compensate himself for the 
close seclusion which his exalted position imposed upon him, K'ien-lung 
had hit upon the original idea of building within his palace an artificial 
town for his own pleasure. 

There were walls, towers, streets, squares, temples, halls, markets, 
shops and palaces, all built in the ordinary way; there was even a har- 
bour. If the emperor desired to see how his subjects actually lived, he 
went into his private town, and had his eunuchs stage a Chinese working 
day for him. The eunuchs dressed themselves as merchants, workers or 
soldiers ; one pushed a wheelbarrow, another carried a basket ; ships en- 
tered the harbour, the shops were opened, dealers landed their wares, 
the people crowded into tea-houses and wine-shops, hawkers and trades- 
men strolled about, they quarrelled, shrieked and clamoured, and there 
were even pickpockets who were arrested, dragged before the judge and 
punished with the bastinado. 

When the emperor came across his new painters, builders and me- 
chanics at their work, he sometimes condescended to speak to them ; he 
gave them orders himself, said how he wished this or that to be orna- 
mented, or he let fall a few words expressing himself satisfied with their 
work. It was a distinction for which a Chinese would have sacrificed 


all he possessed, and this immense good fortune was now enjoyed by the 
Jesuits, the preachers of a religion which at the same time was being 
persecuted with unrelenting severity throughout the empire. 

Since the emperor visited the rooms and places where the Jesuits were 
working, the fathers were afforded an opportunity of entreating his 
mercy on behalf of the persecuted Chinese Christians. On one occasion, 
Father Castiglione was busily engaged on a fresco in one of the imperial 
chambers, when K'ien-lung entered, and expressed his satisfaction with 
the work. Thereupon, the missionary threw himself at the feet of the em- 
peror, and presented to him a petition on behalf of the Chinese Chris- 
tians ; K'ien-lung received it in a kindly manner and said : "I will read 
your petition; be calm and continue your painting!" 

To be sure he decided not to repeal the former orders, but, as he was 
pleased with Castiglione's fresco, he ordered his ministers to cease 
persecuting the Christians. 

Indefatigably, Fathers Sickelpart, Panzi, Sallusti and Poirot painted 
portraits, landscapes, fruits, birds and fishes, in oil on glass and in water- 
colours on silk; Sickelpart's art pleased the emperor so much that he 
was made a mandarin of the first class. Father Brossard was also suc- 
cessful in gaining the favour of the emperor with his glass-work, which 
was of the most exquisite delicacy. Soon K'ien-lung entrusted the Jesuits 
with the management of a regular academy, accommodation for which 
was found in a building near the palace, and there Chinese pupils were 
instructed in this European art. 

It was often difficult to satisfy the whims of the emperor, and con- 
form to his varying desires without opposing him. Woefully one of the 
fathers reported to his native land : "All our work is superintended by 
the emperor. First we submit plans, which he often amends as it pleases 
him ; whether the alteration is good or bad, it must be accepted without 
question, for the emperor is the best judge of all things." 

When once a number of rebel Tatar princes announced their submis- 
sion, Father Attiret suddenly received a command to depart for the 
hunting-seat at Ge-hol in Tatary, as the emperor wished to have a 
pictorial record of the submission ceremony. Having entered Ge-hol, the 
poor father was so confused by the many faces, pursuits and festivities 
that he did not know for a long time how he was going to depict it all 
on canvas. Scarcely had the ceremony of the submission of the Tatar 
princes ended, however, when a minister conveyed an order to the mis- 
sionary to begin painting his picture on the spot, as the emperor wished 
to see the finished work on the evening of the same day. 


Attiret painted in desperation; he placed the emperor, clad in gor- 
geous raiment, in the centre of the picture, and around him he sketched 
in, with all possible speed, some hundreds of figures. Very soon the min- 
ister appeared again, and reported that the emperor already wished 
to see the picture. Attiret's sketch pleased K'ien-lung so much that he ex- 
claimed repeatedly : "Hen-hao!" ("Very good!"). 

Exhausted, the father had retired to rest, but, early the next morning, 
he was called to the palace, where the emperor had just appointed eleven 
of the recently subdued Tatar princes to the rank of mandarin, and he 
was ordered to paint their portraits with all possible speed. What could 
the unfortunate missionary do but carry out this new command for the 
glory of God ? 

He went into the room where the eleven Tatars were already awaiting 
him, and set to work painting the first. While he worked, the other 
princes crowded round him, and plied him with all sorts of questions ; 
he had to answer them, and, at the same time, continue with his paint- 
ing, and he might not even with a glance allow his irritation to be ob- 
served. This went on for six days until the portraits were completed. The 
Tatars were much astonished at the likeness of the portraits ; they looked 
at each other, and, on comparing their features with the painting, they 
burst into shouts of laughter. 

On his return to Peking, K'ien-lung wanted a number of engravings 
made to commemorate the capture of Turkestan, and on these the im- 
portant events of the campaign were to be portrayed. None of the fa- 
thers had ever been engaged on work of this nature before, and conse- 
quently they were at first at their wits' end how to deal with this unex- 
pected order. Then, however, Father Benoit decided to read up the art 
of making copper plates, and, at last, he actually succeeded in producing 
one hundred and four large plates which were printed in France, and 
which pleased the emperor very much. 

They were always receiving new commands which had to be carried 
out immediately; it was necessary even for the aged Attiret, who was 
then very ill, to be constantly painting the emperor in new poses, now 
on horseback, now seated, now standing. "To be chained up day by 
day," wrote the harassed Father Attiret to his colleagues in Rome, "with 
only Sundays and holidays free for prayer, and to be unable to paint 
anything my heart might dictate, all this would urge me, the sooner the 
better, to return to Europe ; but I think that religion is profiting by my 
brush, and that my painting favourably impresses the emperor towards 
the missionaries. This and the hope of seeing heaven when my troubles 


in the water. All this was set in motion by hidden springs, and a magnet 
which ran round the dial attracted the goose so that it showed the time. 
When it was the hour, the statue holding the inscription stepped forward 
from the rear of the stage and bowed; thereupon the six other statues 
played together a little tune, striking the cymbals with the hammers. 
When the music ceased, the figure with the inscription returned cere- 
moniously to its place." 

The emperor was so enraptured with this present from the fathers 
that he immediately ordered it to be taken into one of his private cham- 
bers. There he preserved this piece of work with the greatest care for the 
rest of his days. 

"Also/' says the missionary's letter in conclusion, "we endeavour, for 
the sake of our religion, to earn the goodwill of the emperor by means 
of useful and necessary services. If we cannot move him so that he is 
favourably disposed towards the Christians, we can at least influence 
him so that he no longer persecutes them, and so that he allows the serv- 
ants of the Lord the liberty to preach the Gospel." 

The emperor knew quite well that the fathers would remain at his 
court only so long as they saw before them some hope for their mis- 
sionary work. Thus, the Christian churches in Peking were kept open 
and the Chinese Christians, some nine thousand in number, were in no 
way molested. One of the fathers reported as follows : "There are a 
large number of Christians in Peking who are allowed full liberty to 
visit the church. ... In the provinces also our fathers are not so care- 
fully hidden that they cannot be found when required. But the manda- 
rins close their eyes to our activities, for they know how we stand here 
with the emperor." 

Profanation or Toleration? 

When the triumphs of the Jesuit missionaries in China became known 
in Europe, they immediately excited the jealousy of the Dominicans, 
who were already angry with the Jesuits on account of the Molinist 
controversy. The Franciscans, who had themselves been engaged in 
missionary work for a long time, also grudged the Society of Jesus its 
surprising success, and the Jansenists, as a matter of principle, hated 
everything the Jesuits did and neglected to do. 

Opposition was made all the keener on account of the unfortunate end 
of the mission undertaken by the Dominicans and Franciscans. Priests 
of these two orders had just made an attempt to get a firm footing in 


China, but, unlike the Jesuits, they had refused to make any compromise 
with the national customs of the Chinese, and from the very beginning 
had remained strong in their principles. 

And so Dominican and Franciscan monks alike preached that all the 
emperors of China, as well as the wise Confucius, were, as heathens, 
damned to the everlasting fires of hell. Of course, such a doctrine in a 
country where the greatest reverence was shown towards former rulers 
and statesmen could only arouse general indignation. Therefore, the new 
missionaries were soon taken by the authorities, cast into prison and de- 

The Jesuits, on the other hand, had begun their missionary work with 
maps, clocks, mirrors, reading-glasses and paintings, and, with these, had 
been successful. On this account, the Dominicans and Franciscans 
accused them of spreading the teachings of Christ in an undignified 
manner, and, therefore, of having profaned the word of God. 

The fathers of the Society of Jesus answered their opponents smartly, 
and declared that Christianity in China had been placed in the greatest 
danger by the imprudent behaviour of the mendicant monks; indeed, 
the clumsiness of these missionaries had aroused the anger of the author- 
ities, and, as a consequence, had to some extent been the cause of send- 
ing numerous Chinese Christians needlessly to their martyrdom. 

The conflict between the religious fraternities was extended by the no 
less malicious intrigues of international politics. The sending of a Jesuit 
mission to China by Louis XIV aroused the jealous anger of the Portu- 
guese government, which claimed, on the ground of papal privilege, the 
sole right of conducting the work of converting the peoples of the Far 
East to Christianity. Portugal at once opened a strong diplomatic at- 
tack on France at the Papal See, and immediately gave chase to the 
French Jesuit missionaries who had left for China; one of them was 
captured by the Portuguese and was imprisoned at Goa until his death. 

Further disputes arose in connection with the filling of the bishopric 
established in Peking. The French maintained that the bishop should be 
a Jesuit of French nationality, while the Portuguese demanded a Portu- 
guese bishop from the Order of Christ. Thus the Chinese mission was 
the source of continual and complicated political intrigues in Paris, Lis- 
bon and Rome. 

The Inquisition of the Holy See was inundated with accusations 
against the Jesuits. The fathers working at the court of Peking were 
accused of having, in their capacity as members of the mathematical 
tribunal, occupied themselves in the determination of days of good and 


ill fortune ; this implied the encouragement of objectionable superstition 
and was quite inadmissible. 

Against all precepts of the Church, they wore a head-covering similar 
to the old Chinese scholar's cap when reading mass ; they did not read the 
liturgy, the missals and the breviary, as prescribed, in Latin, but in 
Chinese; in the baptism of women, they neglected to anoint the nostrils, 
shoulders and breast, on the rather feeble ground that the Chinese would 
not tolerate the touching of their women by foreigners. 

All the enemies of the Jesuits were greatly perturbed by the fact that 
the missionaries permitted their converts in China to participate in the 
customary rites in honour of the dead. These funeral ceremonies, at 
which strips of paper were burnt, and meat and wine placed on the 
tables for the souls of the deceased, were, in the opinion of the Domini- 
cans and the Franciscans, altogether heathen ceremonies, the practice 
of which must be a sin. Nevertheless, the Jesuits had not only permitted 
these customs, but had also practised them. 

The most serious accusation made against the Jesuits, however, was 
that the fathers in China had systematically kept secret the death of 
Christ on the Cross, and that they baptized the Chinese without telling 
them a word about the crucifixion of the Lord. In their churches in 
China, the Jesuits had no crucifix, but only representations of the Sav- 
iour in his glory and of the Mother of God enthroned in heaven. 

On the other hand, the Jesuits laid detailed statements before the in- 
quisition tribunal. In these, they said they had never denied the crucifix- 
ion, but, in the interests of the Faith, it had been necessary to impart 
the Gospel to the heathens with care and with tact. Crucifixion in China 
was a great disgrace, and the Chinese could only with great difficulty 
be made to believe in a God who had been executed in so shameful a man- 
ner. For this reason, the Jesuits had refrained from relating the cruci- 
fixion of Christ until such time as the converts had been sufficiently pre- 
pared. So far as concerned the rites, the toleration of which they were 
reproached with, it was not a case of religious ceremonies, but of a cer- 
tain form of piety, against which there could not be the least objection 
from the Christian point of view. The funeral celebrations of the Chi- 
nese meant nothing more than the expression of a childish reverence for 
their forbears. Further, these customs were absolutely binding on all 
Chinese, and to forbid them would render abortive any attempt at con- 
version to Christianity. 

Much more serious was the struggle in which the whole Catholic 
priesthood were soon involved. The Dominicans Moralez and Nava- 

M/> Pf U 4 

or tA 


Drawn by the first explorer of the river, the Jesuit missionary Father Marquette. 



rette, wrote one large volume after another in which they accused the 
Jesuits in China of open treason; the indefatigable Antoine Arnauld 
came out with similar polemical writings. The popes hesitated for a long 
time between the Jesuits and their opponents, for nobody in Europe had 
a clear idea of the actual importance of the Chinese rites which were, in 
the main, concerned. It had to be ascertained whether the souls of the 
dead were worshipped as deities ; it had to be made clear how far the 
tables on which the forbears were offered food were regarded as altars. 
The contending orders advanced statements about all this which were in 
substance diametrically opposed. 

As the popes could not, in such circumstances, judge objectively, they 
gave their decision according to their own connections with the Domini- 
cans or the Jesuits. Paul V said, in 1616, that he was, in principle, ready 
to approve the conduct of the Jesuits, but he neglected to issue a formal 
decision to that effect. In 1635, the Dominicans addressed a denunciation 
to Pope Urban VIII, but a settlement of this question was not reached 
until the College of Cardinals under his successor, Innocent X, decided 
that the funeral celebrations should be prohibited. Under Alexander VII, 
the Jesuits, however, again attained great influence at the Curia, and 
thus the Roman Inquisition of 1656 stated that the Chinese rites were 
"merely a civil and political cult," and could, therefore, be tolerated. 

Clement IX, who became pope in 1667, was an expressed enemy of 
the Society of Jesus ; it is, therefore, not surprising that a decree against 
the cult of ancestors was immediately issued. This unfavourable devel- 
opment for the Jesuits reached its climax in 1715, when the constitu- 
tion issued by Clement XI imposed a formal oath against the cult of 
ancestors on all missionaries working in China. A papal legate went to 
China to supervise the carrying into effect of this order, and principally 
to inquire into the question in dispute on the spot. 

The Chinese themselves now learned of the bitter struggle they had 
unwittingly caused during many years past, and they were anything but 
edified by it. When the papal legate informed the Emperor K'ang-hi that 
the Holy Father had damned the cult of the ancestor as heathen idola- 
try, the emperor remarked angrily: "How can the pope judge of things 
which he has never seen, and with which he is not acquainted ? So far as 
I am concerned, I would never presume to pass judgment on customs 
in Europe of which I know nothing." 

A Chinese judge having to pass sentence on a Dominican monk who 
had been taken prisoner declared at the time : "I know the Jesuits well ; 
they are true preachers and brave men who have brought us books, 


clocks, telescopes and similar useful objects. You others, however, arc 
false preachers, for you neither know the high science of mathematics 
or astronomy, nor have you brought us clocks or books." 

The Fish-Hook Mission 

In the early decades of the seventeenth century, a movement began 
in England which for some time past had been proceeding in Spain and 
Portugal ; hosts of adventurous people embarked for the new world in 
order to exchange the unsatisfactory conditions of their native land for 
the attractions of a virgin country. 

First, there were the Puritan emigrants who, fleeing the hardships of 
religious persecution, flocked to North America ; their example was soon 
followed by "Papist" nobles for the same reason. Sir George Calvert, 
who later became Lord Baltimore, organized the first of these Catholic 
expeditions, and from the very beginning he found zealous assistants 
in the Jesuits Parsons and Blount. When the small band of Catholic 
colonists actually set out for America in the year 1634, they had a few 
Jesuit fathers with them. 

They landed to the north of Virginia, and named their new colony 
Maryland. They worked hard building houses, making the land produc- 
tive, clearing forest land and providing food and sustenance by hunting 
and fishing. The Jesuits assisted in all these labours, and in all things 
they did as the others did. 

"Near the mouth of the Potomac," wrote Father White, one of the 
members of this expedition, "we came to a small river in the north as 
large as the Thames. On one bank, we have laid out our plantations, 
and built the town of St. Mary; on the other bank lives King Chitoma- 

This native prince, who had pitched his tents to the south of the pres- 
ent city of Washington, was a kind of Indian emperor, and was revered 
by his subjects as "Tayac," the "chief of all chiefs." He and his people 
distrusted the white immigrants who had taken possession of their for- 
ests and prairies, and for a long time, the Indians regarded as a hostile 
demon the God of whom the white people spoke. For this reason, the 
redskins had mercilessly massacred the first missionaries, who, in 1570, 
had attempted to preach the Gospel in this neighbourhood. 

In order to protect themselves from the attacks of the Indians, the 
English settlers on American soil had relied on the law of retaliation, 
and any Indian who fell into their hands was made to pay the penalty 


for the crimes of other members of his race. The governor of the new 
colonies issued orders under which the settlers were authorized to shoot 
all Indians at sight. 

Such cruel measures, naturally, did not moderate the hostility of the 
redskins towards the Europeans, and the Jesuits devised other methods 
of making peace with them. First, they worked eagerly for months learn- 
ing the language of the Indians, and, when at last they set out to go 
to the Indians, the only weapons they took with them were a quantity 
of fish-hooks, needles and confectionery. With such baggage, they crossed 
the river, and one day stood before the tent of the terrible Chitomachon. 
When he saw the fine fishing-hooks and needles, the use of which the 
fathers explained in perfect Indian, and when he had tasted the confec- 
tionery, he quickly made friends with the new-comers. Soon he permitted 
them to explain the elements of the Christian faith, and, some time after- 
wards, he expressed a wish to embrace Christianity. On the advice of the 
fathers, he even separated from all but one of his numerous wives, and, 
with this wife and his little son, accompanied by a stately following, he 
went to the Maryland settlement to be baptized. 

"On July 3, 1640," the report of the missionaries stated, "after a suf- 
ficient instruction in the secrets of the Faith, he took the sacrament. At 
the same time, his wife and their child, as well as one of his chief coun- 
cillors and his son, were born again at the baptismal spring. Then, in 
the afternoon, the emperor and his wife were married according to the 
Christian rite, and, after this, an enormous cross was set up ; the emperor, 
the governor, his secretary and all others present helped to carry it to the 
most suitable spot, whilst two of us sang the litany of the Holy Virgin/' 
The Jesuits spread the Christian faith among the neighbouring In- 
dian races in a similar manner, and still other chiefs came forward 
to receive their confectionery, fish-hooks and needles. Although this must 
have seemed inconceivable to the Christian colonists, who, brought up 
in the faith of their fathers, had relied hitherto on fire-arms, they had 
reluctantly to acknowledge the success of the new Jesuits' methods. 
Hence, soon afterwards, a report of the colonial authorities stated "that 
the natives, when treated in a friendly and just manner, show themselves 
to be quite peaceful. Every wise man will from now on regard it as his 
duty to treat the Indians well, to instruct them in the use of tools, and 
thereby keep them loyal and engaged in useful work. M 

The harmony which, in these early days, existed between the settlers 
and the priests did not last long. As new immigrants continued to ar- 
rive, land became scarce, and covetous eyes were turned on those proper- 


ties which the grateful Indians had presented to the missionaries. The 
authorities in Maryland drafted a law under which the land belonging 
to the Catholic clergy was to be sequestrated. The clever fathers showed, 
however, that they were a match not only for wild Indians, but also for 
the civilized colonists, for, when the necessary legislative formalities had 
been completed, it came to light that the land had for a long time ceased 
to be the property of the fathers, and that, on the contrary, it had already 
been placed in the faithful hands of a very respectable farmer, and had 
thereby been made safe against all seizure. 

From now onwards, the missionaries had frequently to defend them- 
selves against the attacks of their enemies, for, in the colony which had 
originally been Catholic, the Protestants were now in the majority, and 
the latter persecuted the "Papist" priests in every possible way. Exiled 
from Maryland, the fathers disappeared without leaving any trace be- 
hind them, and soon afterwards reappeared in the guise of farmers under 
common names; some of them actually left Maryland, and sought to 
continue their work in other parts of the English colonies. 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, an opportunity offered it- 
self for successful work in New York as the owner of this colony at that 
time, the Duke of York, openly sympathized with the Catholics. Full of 
hope, the Provincial Warner wrote to the general of the order : "In this 
colony there is an important town where it may be possible to establish 
a college to which those of our colleagues who are scattered over Mary- 
land may retire until a further opportunity offers itself for them to ad- 
vance into Maryland." 

Soon after this, when the Duke of York ascended the English throne 
as James II, the Jesuits of his time acquired power and influence at the 
court of Whitehall ; in those days the mission in New York flourished, 
and the newly established Jesuit college in that city was much resorted 
to. But the "glorious revolution" suddenly put an end to the reign of the 
last of the Stuarts. Under his successor, William of Orange, the posi- 
tion of the Jesuits in New York became untenable ; whereupon the fa- 
thers immediately appeared again in full force in Maryland, and there 
discharged the duties of their office among the Catholic population. 

A simple means made it possible for them to hold their ground amid 
the difficulties of changing political conditions, a means which even their 
enemies could not but appreciate; wherever it seemed at all desirable, 
they established schools for both white people and Indians. An Ameri- 
can senator has declared that the Jesuit missionaries, during the early 
colonization of America, took in hand the task of educating the people, 


and thereby "performed a task which neither the government nor any- 
body else had been able to accomplish." 

In Georgetown, now a suburb of the city of Washington, the federal 
capital, they established a seminary, the first Catholic educational insti- 
tution in United States territory; from there, they extended their activ- 
ities to Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Indeed, it is 
to a certain degree due to their activities that the newly formed United 
States included in its Constitution the principle of religious freedom. 

In those days, one of Benjamin Franklin's friends was a Jesuit ; this 
was John Carroll, who had been brought up in Maryland, and who later, 
on Franklin's special recommendation, was appointed prefect apostolic 
and afterwards became the first Catholic bishop of the United States. 

Father Marquette, The Explorer of the Mississippi 

In the seventeenth century, almost simultaneously with the English, 
the French landed on the east coast of North America, and there, on the 
territory we now know as Canada, they founded a "New France." Some 
Jesuit fathers landed with the first officials of the French trading com- 
pany, and one of the first buildings of the new settlement of Quebec 
was the Jesuit college. 

Bancroft, in his History of the United States, writes : "The origin of 
all towns in French America is closely associated with the work of mis- 
sionaries; not a cape was rounded, not a river discovered without a 
Jesuit's having shown the way." 

In their simple black coats, their packs on their backs, they marched 
indefatigably through snow and ice, over the steepest mountains and 
through virgin forests in order to reach remote Indian races. 

It was on such travels that Father Marquette and Louis Joliet became 
the first Europeans after De Soto to reach that legendary stream of which 
the Indians had so often spoken to them, and in their boats they followed 
its course as far as New Orleans. Two statues in the Capitol at Washing- 
ton proclaim today the fame of these two explorers of the Mississippi. 

Other missionaries pressed on up the Missouri, through that impas- 
sable tract west of Lake Superior, as far as the Yellowstone River; the 
Jesuit Dolbeau explored the mountainous districts north of the St. 
Lawrence River and Father Albanel was the first white man to reach 
Hudson's Bay. 

The brothers of the order won over the Indians of the primeval forests 
of Canada by the same means as they had employed in the south : the 


priests spoke to them in their own language, and lavished presents upon 
them. The results achieved by this policy can best be seen in an extract 
from a report of the Marquis of Denonville to the government in Paris : 
"The Indians can be kept in order only by these missionaries ; the fathers 
alone are able to win them over to our interests, and keep them from the 
rebellion which might otherwise break out at any moment. According to 
my own observations, I am firmly convinced that the Jesuits are the most 
suitable people to make the Indians peaceably disposed towards us." 

Father Brebeuf had no sooner reached the Huron Indians, who num- 
bered some 25,000 souls, than the redskins built for him a cabin of 
honour on the finest clearing, and they would not allow him to depart. 
The missionaries found here that the work of conversion was much more 
difficult than in the case of Chitomachon, who had been won over by a 
few fish-hooks and some confectionery. The Hurons were a good- 
natured people, but, at the same time, they were sensual, and, when the 
missionaries had explained to them without any great difficulty the ele- 
ments of the Catholic doctrines, the Indians could never understand why 
God should demand that they should give up all but one of their wives. 

"I feel no little fear," wrote the clever Father Brebeuf, "when I reflect 
that it is now time to speak another language to the Indians, that we must 
preach the obligation to curb the desires of the flesh, and to regard matri- 
mony as holy. When we tell them all this, and describe to them the judg- 
ment of God on sinners, they will, I fear, resist this rigid religion." 

Only with "sweet cunning" could this difficult problem be solved, and 
so Brebeuf and his fellow-workers endeavoured to move the Indians to 
accept the strange and unusual Christian moral customs by lavishing 
beautiful wedding presents on each Indian who married a wife in ac- 
cordance with the Catholic faith. They gave feie young couple the festive 
clothes, an ox-hide to serve as a couch, and the meat for the preparation 
of a great feast. The marriage was celebrated with great ceremony, and, 
on such occasions, the Jesuits decorated their forest chapels with glitter- 
ing metal candlesticks and life-size images of the Virgin Mary. 

This splendour, which was such as the Indians had never before seen, 
actually had the effect of making Christian monogamy seem much more 
tolerable to the Indians than hitherto. 

In 1639, the Jesuits founded the mission station of St. Mary of the 
Hurons in the centre of the district inhabited by the Huron Indians, and 
from this station they imparted the Christian teachings to more than 
15,000 Indians ; at the same time a number of Huron lads were sent to 
Quebec, to study at the Jesuit college. The number of converts constantly 


increased, so that the Jesuits hoped that in time they would convert the 
whole Huron tribe. 

But the English were not disposed to remain inactive while the French 
continued to extend the territory under their rule in North America; the 
rivalry between England and France soon developed into a bloody con- 
flict, in which the Indians were the first to be engaged. The English 
colonists took the Iroquois Indians living in their territory into their serv- 
ice, and these immediately attacked the Hurons, who were fighting for 
the supremacy of France. 

The Iroquois were far superior in numbers and better armed, and, in 
the end, the Hurons were almost completely wiped out. Now, at a time 
when it was a matter of life and death, the Jesuits did not desert the 
Hurons. They advised them in their plans of campaign, and were beside 
them in the fiercest hand-to-hand encounters. On more than one occasion, 
there were Jesuits among the prisoners taken by the Iroquois ; one of 
them, Father Jogues, had, as a slave of the Iroquois, to do forced labour 
of the hardest kind for them, while Fathers Brebeuf, Lalemant, Bres- 
sani and Daniel were scalped, burned at the stake, seethed in boiling 
water, and so tortured to death. 

No sooner had the Jesuits been compelled in this way to give up all 
hope of converting the Huron Indians into a Christian race than they 
boldly determined to win over to Christianity the Iroquois who had 
emerged victorious from the fight. That a number of the best brothers of 
the order had been sacrificed to the fury of this tribe seemed to them to 
be merely a further inducement for them to lead these wild redskins to 
the Church. 

One of the first to obtain yjfluence with the Iroquois was Father Milet. 
He had been captured by them, and the day on which he was to be scalped 
with all due ceremony had been fixed. The missionary, however, suc- 
ceeded in so amazing his guards by the tricks he performed with his 
girdle, that they entered into conversation with him, and finally decided 
to receive him as a son. After the father had performed his tricks with 
the girdle to the best of his ability before the assembled war council of 
the Iroquois, he was ceremoniously received into the tribe, and soon suc- 
ceeded in persuading them to take his advice and obey his orders with- 
out question. 

This strange career of a French priest among the Iroquois must have 
caused the governor of New York some serious misgivings ; he saw here 
a political danger, and he did everything which could possibly be done in 
such a case; his efforts, however, were in vain. "The Iroquois will not 


deliver him up," he wrote to the Board of Trade, "although I have of- 
fered a sum of money and an Indian boy in exchange." 

Soon other fathers also gained the confidence of the Iroquois in the 
same way as they had done with the Hurons. Father Simon Le Moyne 
simply walked one day into the camp of the Iroquois Onondagas, and 
made them an offer of peace on behalf of the French authorities. "I talked 
for fully two hours," says the father. "I spoke just like an Indian chief, 
and walked to and fro like an actor on the stage, as is usual with these 

After a long consultation among the Indians, the missionary was 
placed on a seat of honour decorated with leaves, whereupon the chief of 
the Onondagas said to him : "Tell the white men that we are ready to 
acknowledge the God of whom you have spoken. You yourself may settle 
here. Care for us like a father, and we will obey you like children." 

Another missionary made successful use of his painting ability in the 
conversion of the redskins. With paint-box and palette, he appeared at 
the wigwams of the Indians, and, surrounded by astonished spectators, 
he sketched pictures of hell, of heaven, of angels, and of the Devil. After- 
wards, he explained their meaning, and, by means of this object lesson, 
he actually converted a number of the Iroquois. 

Lord Bellomont, the governor of New England, saw no other means 
of destroying the Jesuit influence among the redskins than placing a price 
on their heads. In 1699, he reported to the higher authorities : "By means 
of money or special gifts, I might induce the Mohawks and the Onon- 
dagas to deliver up all Jesuits living with them. If I can do this, the 
Jesuits will never again dare to go among these people ; moreover, a last- 
ing and unquenchable hatred will spring up between the Indians and the 

Indeed, the governor even went himself to the Iroquois, and said to 
them in an impressive speech : "For every Papist priest or Jesuit, you 
shall receive as your reward one hundred pieces-of -eight ($i 13 ) in cash, 
for we have in this province a law which entitles us to arrest such 
disturbers of the peace." 

Friends of the Red Men 

Wherever the Spanish or Portuguese conquistadores occupied fresh 
territories in the New World, they were followed by the Jesuit fathers. 
If unknown regions were to be explored, it was the Jesuits who volun- 
teered to undertake the task; when peace treaties or alliances were to be 


concluded with the Indians, the authorities made use of the services of 
the fathers, for they alone were acquainted with the native dialects, and, 
on account of their constant friendliness, enjoyed the full confidence? of 
the chieftains. 

In Mexico, the Jesuits were the first to venture among the still uncon- 
quered northern tribes ; they penetrated as far as the mountain races on 
the upper reaches of the Rio Yaqui, and traversed the pathless mountain 
vastnesses of the Tarahumares. When the fathers first appeared in the 
mountains and valleys in which these tribes dwelt, the Indians fled to 
the shelter of their caves ; nowhere were the white races more distrusted 
than in Mexico, where, a century earlier, the "White Saviour" had mas- 
sacred tens of thousands of the natives. But even here the glittering pres- 
ents and kindly words of the missionaries did not fail to produce the de- 
sired effect. Father Glandorff, who, with remarkable zeal, traversed the 
country seeking everywhere to make converts, speedily succeeded in per- 
suading the natives to leave their homes in the mountains, and to as- 
semble at prearranged places on the plains to take part in the meetings 
which he arranged for prayer and religious instruction. 

With Mexico as their base of operations, the Jesuits pushed forward 
into New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas; the German mission- 
ary, Kiihn, explored the regions to the north of the Colorado River, while 
we also owe to the zeal of the Jesuits the first accurate descriptions and 
maps of Lower California. 

A century later, Robert Louis Stevenson referred in glowing terms to 
the good work performed by the order in California, contrasting it with 
the subsequent misdoings of the "greedy land thieves and sacrilegious 
gunmen" in the same region. "So ugly a thing," he says, "may our 
Anglo-Saxon Protestantism appear beside the doings of the Society of 

In Peru and Bolivia, moreover, the Jesuit fathers succeeded in dis- 
covering more than a hundred Indian tribes hitherto unknown, whom 
they concentrated in fixed settlements, in which they carried on agri- 
cultural work, cattle-raising and various industries, teaching the savages 
how to make all kinds of implements and how to build huts, and supply- 
ing the sick and injured with European medicines. In Lima, Cuzco and 
other Peruvian cities, they founded special schools for the Indians, in 
which the sons of the caciques could in future be educated under their 
supervision. They were also zealous in the preservation of the historical 
traditions of the vanished ancient Inca civilization, a task in which Father 
Bias Valera, himself a descendant of the Incas, especially distinguished 


himself. In Lima, they set up a printing press within the precincts of their 
school, in which were produced books and grammars of the Quichuan 
language compiled by the fathers. 

In Brazil, Father Anchieta, with untiring zeal, made long journeys 
among the scattered Indian settlements, during which he converted many 
of the natives to the Christian religion. He lived the same nomadic life 
as they, travelling from place to place in the forests, studying the differ- 
ent dialects, and endeavouring to reduce them to a system. While so do- 
ing, he conceived the bold idea of setting systematically to work to 
abolish the local variations in the South American Indian dialects, and 
to establish a standard language, which could be used in all parts of the 
continent as a means of intercourse. He compiled grammars and diction- 
aries on which were based the linguistic researches of all the later mis- 
sionaries, and from that time onwards the whole order collaborated in 
the scheme initiated by Anchieta. 

Alexander von Humboldt writes, in reference to these efforts of the 
Jesuits, that they seem to him to be "very sensible" : 'They were only 
doing what the Incas or priestly kings of Peru succeeded in doing cen- 
turies earlier in order to retain under their influence and to civilize the 
barbarian tribes on the Upper Amazon." 

The missionaries in South America also rendered valuable service as 
intermediaries between the white race and the Indians; thus Father 
Anchieta once entered the camp of an insurgent native tribe to offer him- 
self as a hostage for the peaceful intentions of the Europeans. 

The Archbishop of La Plata, writing to the king of Spain in 1690, 
said that "the Jesuits, with no help other than their own zeal, accom- 
plished in a short space of time a task which it had been found impossible 
to carry out by means of large armies and the expenditure of vast sums 
of money. They turned enemies into friends, and converted the wildest 
and most intractable of nations into your Majesty's obedient subjects." 

In course of time, the missionaries of the Society of Jesus thus opened 
up vast tracts of territory for the white colonists ; as a French traveller 
wrote during the nineteenth century, they had conquered more land for 
their nations than had the greatest military leaders, and at the same time 
that, with their mild methods, they were bringing the wildest of tribes 
into subjection, they were doing much towards laying the foundations 
of a prosperous colonial empire in America. 

For this reason, the earlier official reports never omitted to refer in 
grateful terms to the services rendered by the fathers ; nevertheless, it 
was not for long possible to suppress the fact that, in their zeal for re- 


ligion, these priests went rather too far, and to an ever-increasing ex- 
tent exceeded their proper functions. 

The colonists were certainly alive to the fact that the propagation of 
the Christian doctrines among the heathen was of material assistance in 
the acquisition of considerable wealth, for once the suspicious and timid 
aborigines had been won over to the Church, they became useful and de- 
pendable slaves for the Europeans. But, in the eyes of the colonists, here 
the task of the missionaries ended. 

But the fathers, as they converted the natives, began to manifest a 
most disconcerting form of activity. The whole of their method of deal- 
ing with the baptized savages, humouring their idiosyncrasies and treat- 
ing them on an equal footing with themselves, must, the colonists 
considered, give these barbarians quite a wrong impression of the mean- 
ing of their conversion ; in fact, it would even seem that the Jesuits wished 
to give their converts almost the same rights as human beings ! 

The Spanish and Portuguese clergy had up to that time made a pro- 
test against slavery only in exceptional cases ; had not St. Paul written 
(I Cor., vn, 21 ) : "Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it"? 
And had not Thomas Aquinas and St. Anthony of Florence also recog- 
nized the validity of slavery? The Jesuits, however, quoted the words of 
St. Augustine : "Man should not have dominion over man, but only over 
the animal world." 

The attitude of the missionaries towards the black slaves soon became 
such as to cause great vexation to the white settlers. Like all the other 
colonists, the fathers owned their own negro slaves, whom, in accordance 
with the general custom, they branded in token of their bondage. But 
they did not refer to their blacks as "slaves," as they ought to have done, 
but called them "servants" or merely "negroes," and granted them rights 
and privileges to an unheard-of extent. The priests allowed their slaves 
to possess land of their own, and required them only to work for a cer- 
tain number of hours, allowing them, under the pretext of religious in- 
struction, to spend the remainder of their time in idleness. This was 
bound to have an adverse influence on the discipline of the other slaves. 

But the Jesuits did an even more unheard-of thing. With the cunning 
for which they were famous, they induced the authorities to issue an 
order requiring the other settlers to allow their slaves a certain amount 
of occasional leisure for the purpose of receiving instruction in the Chris- 
tian doctrines, which meant that their masters would lose some of their 
slaves' labour and would thus suffer pecuniary loss. 

A Jesuit father called Petrus Claver made himself very unpopular in 


Cartagena, the principal entrepot of the South American slave trade. The 
great slave-ships regularly discharged their cargoes of newly captured 
African negroes at this port, where they were impatiently awaited by the 
dealers, who at once dispatched them to the mines and plantations. It was 
already the practice to baptize the slaves as soon as they were landed at 
Cartagena, for the slave-dealers were mindful of their duties as Chris- 
tians ; but the ceremony was carried out with the utmost expedition, and 
there was practically no delay in handling the traffic. 

But Petrus Claver, by his cunning speeches, persuaded the local au- 
thorities to issue an order to the effect that no newly arrived negro might 
be baptized until he had received "adequate instruction in the Christian 
religion." Claver arranged for this instruction to be given in such a 
manner that it lasted several days; inasmuch as thousands of slaves were 
involved, this new regulation was very inconvenient to the dealers, caus- 
ing as it did an appreciable loss of interest on the capital which they had 
invested in black ivory. 

Almost as soon as a new slaver was signalled off Cartagena, Claver 
hastened to board the vessel, taking with him biscuits, fruit and sweet- 
stuffs as presents for the fettered passengers. He even went so far as to 
go between decks, where the slaves lay huddled in filth, surrounded by 
the corpses of those who had perished during the voyage. He there at- 
tended to their wants, bandaged their wounds and comforted them. After 
they were landed, he had them quartered in clean huts, where, under the 
pretext that their instruction in the Christian doctrines required some 
time, he retained them until they had regained their strength, and had 
recovered from the effects of their wounds. 

Moreover, the manner in which Claver baptized the slaves almost 
verged on the blasphemous ; in the chapel which he used for this purpose, 
he had set up an altar-piece depicting a number of baptized negroes as 
the happy children of God. This was calculated to give the negroes the 
impression that they were something more than unclean animals and that 
the all-powerful Christian God was really interested in their conversion. 

In his altruistic zeal, Claver did not remain content with baptizing the 
slaves, but afterwards took a great interest in their welfare. When no 
slave-ship was expected, he travelled through the length and breadth of 
the country, visiting all his former converts, and, by his attentions, gave 
them quite an erroneous impression of their earthly purpose. 

The attitude of the Jesuits to the Indians was even worse ; it seemed in- 
deed that, in their zeal, they had entirely overlooked the rightful interests 
of the white settlers. Although at first, in recognition of the services they 


had rendered, efforts were made to turn a blind eye to the excesses of the 
fathers, this state of affairs could not last for long. Now that the primeval 
forests were opened up, and the savage Indian tribes were brought under 
the white yoke, it became necessary to put a stop to the fathers' exag- 
gerated concern over the matter of brotherly love. 

Trouble first broke out in Canada. The Jesuit missionaries there had 
ample opportunity to die as martyrs for the honour of Christian New 
France, to be scalped by the redskins, burnt at the stake, or tortured by 
immersion in boiling water. But the ambitions of the members of this 
order seemed insatiable, and they were by no means content with the 
martyr's crown which the secular authorities did not begrudge them. 
They demanded to be allowed to interfere in matters of government 
which were really no concern of theirs ! 

Hitherto, the sale of brandy to the Indians had constituted one of the 
most lucrative trades of the French merchants in Quebec. But these 
fathers came on the scene, and demanded in the name of Christian char- 
ity that the government should prohibit the sale of alcohol to the Indians. 
In support of this extraordinary request, they pointed out that brandy 
caused dreadful ravages among the redskins, and impelled these other- 
wise good-humoured savages to commit the most horrible excesses. 

At first, the authorities endeavoured to comply with the demands of 
the fathers and of the bishop who had associated himself with them, but 
in such a manner as not to inflict unnecessary harm on the brandy trade. 
The Supreme Council of Quebec therefore issued a decree which strictly 
prohibited the Indians from drinking alcohol. The Jesuits, however, de- 
manded that, instead of this, the whites should be forbidden under severe 
penalties to sell brandy to the Indians, a request which was quite unac- 
ceptable to the government. Rebuffed by the whites, the missionaries then 
addressed themselves to the Indians, and tried to convince them that the 
"fire-water" would lead them into hell, and that the white people let them 
drink it only in order to sell them to the Devil. By such talk, they caused 
trouble between the redskins and the brandy-sellers, which brought upon 
them the deadly enmity not only of the latter, but of the governor, Fron- 
tenac, who himself had an interest in the trade. 

Such a course was akin to high treason in the eyes of the governor, 
who therefore sent a report to the authorities in Paris. His efforts were, 
however, fruitless, for at that period Pere La Chaise was the king's 
confessor, and he did not fail to use his influence with the king on be- 
half of the Jesuits. The judicial investigation accordingly resulted in a 
verdict in favour of the Canadian missionaries. 


Some of the more far-seeing members of the government did not, it 
is true, fail to appreciate the danger of acceding to the Jesuits' demands 
for the prohibition of the sale of alcohol. This, considered the Minister 
of Marine, Hugues de Lyonne, was doubtless very Christian and sound 
in principle ; but it was fatal from the commercial point of view, "since 
the Indians, who like drinking, will in future no longer sell us their beaver 
pelts, but will barter them for brandy to the Dutchmen at Albany." 

The dissensions between the colonists and the fathers regarding the 
treatment of the Indians in the Spanish and Portuguese South American 
colonies assumed an even more violent form. In those days the traffic in 
Indian slaves was regarded as the best and most lucrative kind of busi- 
ness, and the inhabitants of the various settlements regularly held slave- 
hunts, carrying their victims to the great slave-mart at Rio de Janeiro. 
A favourite method of securing Indian slaves was to incite the various 
tribes to make war upon one another. The whites then bought the captives 
from the victors in exchange for needles, pocket-knives and tobacco, and 
disposed of them at a substantial profit. 

The Jesuits publicly denounced this traditional practice of holding 
Indian hunts and slave-markets, and went so far as to take the part of 
the savages against the white people. For instance, Father Anchieta, after 
arranging a peace treaty with the Tamuyo tribe, on one occasion stated 
in a sermon delivered in the public square of Rio that the Tamuyos had 
been in the right in their fight with the Portuguese. "You attacked them, 
despite the treaty," he thundered at the astounded Portuguese, "and you 
have enslaved them contrary to all the laws of nature!" 

Anchieta also wrote a play in verse, mercilessly ridiculing the vices of 
the whites and denouncing the slave traffic ; he had this play performed by 
natives, and invited all the Indians in the district to witness its produc- 
tion. Literary misdemeanours of this type could not but weaken the 
respect of the savages for their white masters, so that the annoyance of 
the Portuguese can easily be understood. 

Unfortunately, it was difficult to take any effective action against the 
machinations of the Jesuits to prevent the Indian hunts, for the practice 
was one which was tacitly tolerated, but was not quite sanctioned by law. 
The missionaries even began to interfere in the old-established custom 
of encomiendas, and did their best to make mischief. For a long time 
past, the government had 'granted to every well-to-do Spaniard who had 
rendered any kind of sefvice to the colonies a number of Indians as 
encomendados; the possessors of these encomiendas were required to 


give their "proteges* ' instruction in the Christian faith, in return for 
which they had to perform a certain amount of forced labour. Hitherto, 
this system had worked to the entire satisfaction of the colonists ; but it 
was the basis of the whole of the Indian slave-system. 

It had been hoped that the missionaries, by their conversions, would 
provide new encomendados, and would thus substantially increase the 
number of available slaves, but these anticipations were balked by the 
fathers. A sentimental governor allowed himself to be persuaded by the 
Jesuits to issue a decree ordering that in future the Indian proselytes were 
not to be treated as private property, and, at a later date, by dint of their 
ceaseless agitations at the court of Madrid, the Jesuits even secured the 
issue of a royal order to the effect that the Indians were henceforth to l>e 
compelled to work "solely by the sword of the Divine word." In these 
circumstances, it was feared that the South American colonial posses- 
sions would be completely ruined. 

Soon after this, the Jesuits were accused of making common cause with 
the Indians against the whites, of weakening the subservience of the 
savages to the royal officials by animadverting against the vices of the 
Europeans; the Jesuits, so their opponents asserted, were striving for 
nothing less than the establishment of an independent Indian kingdom 
under their own influence. 

The Jesuits' Musical Kingdom 

This suspicion of the slave-hunters and the owners of encomendados 
was to a certain extent well founded. The Jesuits, who had become 
familiar with the customs and inclinations of the colonists in the South 
American cities, had indeed come to the conclusion that the so-called "sav- 
ages" of the primeval forests were much better fitted for the establish- 
ment of a religious state than were the white people. "For not only," 
wrote the fathers in their reports, "do the Spaniards make slaves of the 
Indians, but they also destroy them, inasmuch as they are addicted to 
many vices of which our simple children of nature know nothing." 

The missionaries therefore began to cherish the idea of entirely segre- 
gating the Indians from the whites, thereby not only protecting them 
from tyranny, but also guarding them against the corruption of bad 
example ; it frequently happened that the intercourse of the Indians with 
the Spaniards undid in a few short weeks what the missionaries had been 
successful in accomplishing after years of hard work. 


Eventually, the Jesuits submitted their project to the king of Spain. 
They thought that, if the king would grant them the right of setting up 
an Indian state completely independent of the Spanish colonial officials, 
they on their part would promise complete recognition of the Spanish 
sovereignty together with the payment of an annual poll-tax to the court 
of Madrid. 

For some time past, King Philip III had been in constant need of 
funds, so that the financial inducement offered by the wily fathers favour- 
ably influenced his decision. He therefore granted a patent conferring the 
desired powers on the Jesuits, and, at their express request, ordering that 
in future no white man with the exception of the governor should enter 
the Indian settlements administered by the missionaries, without the per- 
mission of the latter. This patent was confirmed by Philip IV, who, when 
he ascended the throne, inherited the financial embarrassments of his 

The Jesuits were now in a position to set to work in the forests and 
pampas of eastern South America, mainly on both banks of the River 
Uruguay, to establish that ideal state in which pure gospel principles 
should alone hold sway. From the outset, they rightly appreciated the fact 
that a real "Kingdom of Christ upon earth" could be founded only among 
savage Indians in the densest virgin forest, and subject to the complete 
exclusion of the European Christians. 

The geographical conditions favoured the scheme of the fathers. The 
Spanish settlers, who had at first been attracted by the search for silver 
to the south-eastern regions of South America, had settled at the mouths 
of the great rivers ; the interior, except where accessible along the banks 
of the rivers, not having been opened up by them. But, as the Jesuits 
found on their explorations, the River Uruguay formed at one point of 
its course a huge cataract with dangerous rocks and rapids which pre- 
vented its navigation by European craft ; above this impassable barrier, 
there stretched the territories inhabited by the Chiquito and Guarani 

"Our missionaries/' wrote the Tyrolese Father Sepp, who later visited 
the country after the establishment of the Jesuit state, "are all of the 
opinion that God made this waterfall and these rapids for the benefit of 
our poor Indians, for the Spaniards, impelled by their insatiable greed 
for wealth, have come thus far in their great ships, but no farther. Up to 
the present, they have not set foot in our dominions and have been un- 
able to open relations or do business with our Indians." 

The cautious fathers, however, relied neither upon nature nor upon 


the royal patent which had been granted to them ; but in addition they did 
all in their power to prevent the intrusion of European civilization into 
the territory entrusted to their guardianship. Not only did they most 
strictly prohibit the natives from holding intercourse with the whites, but 
they also took the precaution of ensuring that the former learned neither 
the Spanish nor the Portuguese language. They even went so far as to 
urge their proteges to use force against any stranger who might venture 
to enter their territory without express permission. 

When the first Jesuits explored the virgin forests of Paraguay along 
the river banks, any kind of missionary work seemed well-nigh impos- 
sible, for the Indians persisted in timidly fleeing from them. But the 
fathers noticed that, when they sang religious melodies in their canoes, 
the natives peeped out of the bushes here and there to listen to them, and 
gave signs of extraordinary pleasure. This discovery supplied the mis- 
sionaries with a method of enticing the Indians from their forest haunts. 
They took musical instruments on their voyages, and played and sang to 
the best of their ability. 

"The Indians fell into the pleasant trap," writes Chateaubriand in his 
Spirit of Christianity. 'They descended from their hills to the river banks 
in order the better to hear the enchanting notes, while many cast them- 
selves into the water and swam after the boats. Bows and arrows fell 
unheeded from the hands of the savages, and their souls received the first 
impressions of a higher kind of existence and of the primitive delights of 

The missionaries were now able to expound to the astonished Indians 
in the native tongue the meaning of what they had sung; the Jesuits 
aroused such interest that the savages invited them home to their 
forests and plains, there to sing to the old people and explain the mean- 
ing of what they sang. 

The fathers thus penetrated into regions hitherto unexplored by any 
European, in which the Guaranis and Chiquitos dwelt in a state of un- 
spoiled nature. There they found human beings who, according to the 
accounts given by the missionaries, were clad in deerskins. The girls and 
boys went naked, their long, uncombed hair hanging like manes to their 
shoulders. Their noses were pierced, and from them, by threads, hung 
bones or coloured feathers, while their throats were similarly adorned. 
The women were ugly; their jet-black hair fell in coils over their sun- 
burnt, wrinkled faces and down their backs. 

These savages were of a childish, friendly nature, and the first mis- 
sionaries who discovered them reported that they had seen "two hundred 


thousand Indians" who were "in every way fitted for the Kingdom of 

The fathers, aware of the wonderful effect of music on the Indians, 
overcame any oppo^tion they met with by striking up a solemn chant. 
But, more remarkable still, the Indians themselves tried to imitate the 
musical performances of the missionaries, and, under the guidance of 
the fathers, set to work with enthusiasm to learn to sing difficult chorales 
in several parts. The growth of the state that was about to be born owed 
its original impetus to this closer association through music; for the 
Indians, who had hitherto lived in scattered forest settlements, devel- 
oped an ever-increasing common consciousness due to their community 

The first families to concentrate in one locality were certain of the 
Guarani tribe to whose settlement the Jesuits gave the name of Loreto ; 
shortly afterwards were founded the Christian Indian communities of 
San Ignacio, Itapua and Santa Ana, all situated on the middle reaches 
of the River Parana. From this nucleus of Indian villages arose the 
"reductions" of Paraguay, which soon comprised considerable portions 
of the present states of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chili, Brazil and 
Bolivia. During the most prosperous period of this strange state, there 
were in all thirty-one such reductions, each of which had a population 
of between three and six thousand souls. The total population of the 
whole country amounted at that time to about 140,000. 

Almost every function of everyday life was performed to the strains 
of music. As early as 5 A. M., the people were summoned by a fanfare of 
trumpets to church, where mass was celebrated with much singing, in- 
toning of responses and instrumental music, for the missionaries held 
that "nothing was so conducive to inculcating in the Indians a reverence 
for God and love of His worship, or to make the Christian doctrines more 
easily understood by them, as their accompaniment by music." 

By nature, the Indians were very much averse to manual labour, but 
here again music came to the aid of the fathers in overcoming their lazi- 
ness. As the men marched forth to work in the morning, they were headed 
by a band of instruments ; they tilled the soil to a musical accompaniment, 
and in the same manner they felled trees and erected buildings ; they ate 
their midday meal to music, and in the evenings they returned to their 
villages headed by a band. 

The German Protestant, M. Bach, who was employed by the Bolivian 
government in the forties of the last century, during which period he 
made a thorough study of what vestiges survived of the Jesuit republic, 


relates that even the Indian children had to visit the music school for 
a certain number of hours daily ; constant practice, combined with a con- 
siderable amount of innate talent, had the result that "even in a chorus 
of thousands of voices a false note was never heard." Among these na- 
tives, it was regarded as the first duty of a citizen to be able to sing 

All the missionaries expressed the greatest admiration for the extraor- 
dinary musical talents of these people ; they could not adequately express 
their surprise at the quickness with which mere boys among the Indians 
learned not only to sing, but also to acquit themselves in a most skilful 
manner in the handling of difficult European wind and string instru- 
ments. It was chiefly the German fathers who gave instruction in music ; 
they regularly conducted church choirs and even full orchestras, which 
included "violins, contrabasses, clarinets, flutes, harps, trumpets, horns 
and tympani." Every village had, so the fathers recorded, at least "four 
trumpeters, three good lutanists, four organists, as well as reed-pipe play- 
ers, bassoonists and singers." Their repertoire included, in addition to 
church music, marches and dances imported from Europe, and even selec- 
tions from Italian operas. 

"Among the simple Indians in the virgin forests of America," the mis- 
sionary Francis of Zephyris commented on one occasion, "the fathers 
were unable to claim any success in the teaching of mathematics, because 
no one there understood or wished to possess such knowledge, but they 
acquitted themselves well with music. . . ." 

Besides the musical instruction, the missionaries took great pains to 
provide all kinds of amusements for the recreation of the inhabitants of 
their Indian state, for they held that a joyous life was not detrimental 
to virtue, but rather tended "to make the latter better liked, and to en- 
courage it." They therefore frequently arranged popular festivals with 
games, athletic contests and sham fights. Father Charlevoix records how 
the Jesuits had introduced into the settlements "the laudable custom of 
the Spaniards" of celebrating with dances the festivals of the Church, so 
that the Indians might find greater joy in Christianity. 

"Sometimes they performed complicated dances," related the father; 
"sometimes they played the games of chivalry, either mounted or on foot ; 
sometimes they gambolled on stilts six yards high ; and sometimes they 
walked the tight-rope, or tilted at the ring with lances. On another oc- 
casion, I made them act short comedies, in which, after I had taken much 
trouble to get their parts into their dense heads, they gave a most excel- 
lent performance." These primitive theatricals pleased the Indians so 


* greatly that, many decades after the expulsion of the Jesuits, they still 
performed the plays which they had been taught by the fathers. 

The Tyrolese missionary Sepp gives a graphic description of a great 
festival which was held on his arrival in Paraguay. "We landed at sun- 
rise, and were greeted from the bank by the Indians with the joyous cry 
of 'Yopean! YopeanP They all hastened from their huts, some half 
naked, some clad in garments of skin; one mounted his black horse, an- fr 
other his grey; one seized his bow and arrows, another his sling and 
stones, and one and all ran, as only they could, to the river bank. . . . 

"There now appeared in the middle of the stream two splendid craft, 
like armed galleys, filled with drummers, reed-pipe players, trumpeters 
and musketeers. The bands played, the trumpets sounded and the guns 
were fired, and a sham fight took place between the two vessels. The In- 
dians leapt into the river and fought, partly below and partly above 
water, a pleasant sight to behold. Finally, they all swam round our boat, 
greeting us joyfully. 

"On the bank stood the father superior with two troops of cavalry and 
two companies of infantry, all of them Indians, but all splendidly ac- 
coutred with Spanish equipment. They were armed with sabres, muskets, 
bows and arrows, slings and cudgels ; they staged a very fine sham fight. 
While this was in progress, four standard-bearers waved their flags, 
four trumpeters rallied the people, the cornets, bassoons and reed-pipes 
sounded the alarm, while we gradually appeared from our verdant leaf- 
covered huts, embraced, and, to the sound of joyous pealing of bells, 
entered the church under green triumphal arches, accompanied by some 
thousands of Indians. . . ." 

Particularly impressive was the way in which Corpus Christi Day was 
celebrated, many of the inventions of the missionaries recalling the 
festivities of the Chinese imperial court. Living birds of all hues wert 
tied to triumphal arches of flowers and branches. Here and there were 
placed "chained lions and tigers/' as well as basins of water containing 
wonderful fishes. These arrangements were intended to convey the im- 
pression that all nature's creatures were taking part in the homage 
rendered to the Blessed Sacrament. 

During the Easter procession were carried life-size figures, manu- 
factured by the Indians, portraying various episodes of the Passion. In 
order further to intensify the impression made on the natives, the fathers 
also made use of statues of the saints with movable limbs and eyes, and 
strewed the ground with herbs and flowers, which were then sprinkled 
with perfumed water. 



a ? 

w g 




Map of the period. 


A Benevolent Dictatorship 

As time went on, the fathers discovered that their proteges possessed 
a surprising aptitude for making exact copies of European models. If a 
crucifix, a candlestick or some similar object were shown to an Indian 
with the request that he should reproduce it, he immediately made a 
copy which was hardly distinguishable from the original. The women 
could reproduce very closely the most costly Brabant lace, while a num- 
ber of Indian workpeople even constructed a remarkable organ based 
upon a European model. They engraved metal figures and made copies 
of missals in such a way that no one could tell which was the printed and 
which the written copy. The trumpets made by the Indians were fully 
equal to the products of the Nuremburg instrument-makers, and their 
watches were in no way inferior to those made in the most famous Augs- 
burg workshops. 

Work of this nature gave great pleasure to the Indians, who set to work 
willingly and with the greatest zeal when articles were required for their 
festivals and the adornment of their churches, or in connexion with 
their musical intruction. By the skilful and unobtrusive manner in which 
they encouraged such occupations under the guise of recreation, the 
fathers overcame the innate inertia of the Indians; there thus arose 
among the virgin forests of Paraguay a regular industrial system. 

Eventually, there were to be found in all parts of the country joiners, 
smiths, weavers, tailors, shoemakers, tanners, turners, pewterers, watch- 
makers, sculptors, painters, bell founders and instrument-makers; the 
workshops were generally situated close to the mission house. "In the 
courtyard stood the sugar-mill," writes M. Bach, "while in the rooms 
surrounding the courtyard were to be found those who were employed 
in sugar-boiling, the blacksmiths, the silversmiths, the carpenters, the 
joiners, the turners, the wax-bleachers, the dyers, and the weavers with 
between forty and fifty looms . . ." 

In addition, each reduction specialized in one particular trade; thus 
statues and carving were made in Loreto, the best instrument-makers 
were to be found in San Juan Bautista, while other settlements made a 
speciality of leather work. 

At a certain age, the children were sent by the fathers into the work- 
shops, where they were allowed to choose the trade for which they had a 
special preference. The missionaries thus sought to ensure that "the voca- 
tion was determined by natural aptitude." 

With the same skill and mildness with which the Jesuits made use of 


the good qualities of the savages in the service of civilization did they 
strive to overcome their weaknesses and deficiencies. They soon recog- 
nized that, while the Indians possessed great aptitude for music and for 
work requiring manual dexterity, and learned to read and write fairly 
readily, they could by no possible means be taught to reckon ; the major- 
ity of them had no head for figures. With much effort, and by making use 
of their fingers and toes, they were able to count up to twenty, but any 
number above that they could only describe as "many." 

This defect also rendered them totally incapable of any kind of 
"domestic economy" or of "taking thought for the future," and as, more- 
over, they were possessed of an insatiable appetite, it was all the more 
difficult to persuade them to make a reasonable distribution of their food- 
stuffs. In the early days, if the fathers gave the head of a household a cow 
which would provide three days' food for himself and his family, the In- 
dian would usually devour the animal in a single meal, and would then 
come back the next day complaining to the missionaries that he was tor- 
tured by hunger. More than once it even happened that the natives 
slaughtered and devoured in the open fields the oxen which had been 
given to them for their ploughing. 

In these circumstances, it was quite out of the question to persuade 
them of the necessity of reserving from their harvest sufficient grain for 
the following year's sowing or of providing reserves against unforeseen 
calamities. The Jesuits were, therefore, forced to set up their own grana- 
ries, in which the crops were stored under lock and key, and from which 
each Indian daily received his exact ration. 

Part of the land belonged to individual Indians, but most of it was 
the property of the community. On his own land, the so-called abamba 
or "man's field," each native could plant what he wished, but the cultiva- 
tion of the communal "God's field" was carried out under the supervision 
of the fathers, and the crops were stored in the granaries. Privately 
owned land could not be sold, nor could the houses change hands. No 
form of property was hereditary, but all the children were brought up at 
the expense of the community, and, on attaining their majority, they 
were given abambas. 

The crops produced on "God's fields" provided resources for the main- 
tenance of the sick, aged and infirm, as well as the cost of building houses, 
churches and farm buildings and the amount of the taxes remitted an- 
nually to the Spanish crown. The missionaries themselves did not share 
in the distribution, and lived on a small stipend granted by the king. 

The fathers not only saw that the foodstuffs stored in the granaries 


were systematically distributed, but also arranged for the clothing of the 
Indians. Widows and their daughters, who lived in special "widows' 
homes/' regularly received quantities of cotton, which they were required 
to spin into yarn, and this was then converted into clothing material in 
the weaving shops. All the men and women received new garments once 
and the children twice a year, and thus the Indians in the Jesuit settle- 
ments were better, though more simply, dressed than the majority of the 
Spaniards in the adjacent territories. 

This scrupulous apportionment of the products of the soil was accom- 
panied by an equally careful distribution of the tasks required to be per- 
formed by the Indians. Every citizen of this state was alike required to 
perform some kind of work, but the fathers saw to it that no one was 
called upon to exert himself unduly, and that ample leisure was allowed 
to the Indians for recreation and education. By skilful management it 
was found possible to ensure the economic tillage of the soil with a gen- 
eral working day of eight hours. Three days in the week the Indians had 
to work on "God's fields," and they could spend the other days in tilling 
their own land, but he who neglected his private property was called upon 
to devote a greater part of his time to working on the communal lands. 

Money was unnecessary in this country which depended solely on its 
natural resources. All business was carried on by barter. He who wished 
to buy an ox or a cow paid for it with so many yards of cloth ; a knife 
purchased a horse, and a fish-hook a calf. 

Even the foreign trade of the republic was not conducted by means of 
money. The natural products and home-manufactured wares of the coun- 
try, such as sugar, wax, honey, tobacco, hides, tamarinds, cotton goods, 
leather, turnery-wares, and the like, were exchanged for European prod- 
ucts. The fathers were particularly successful in growing in a cultivated 
form the native plant ilex paraguayensis, which they raised as a kind of 
tea plant; the so-called "Paraguay tea," or yerba mate, for a long time 
constituted one of the most important exports of the settlements. 

All goods intended for export were transported to Santa Fe or Buenos 
Ayres, where the Jesuits themselves supervised their exchange. Any sur- 
plus moneys which were realized were devoted to the carrying out of im- 
provements or the erection of new industrial or agricultural plants. 

At times, it was found necessary to invite Spanish merchants to the 
settlements, in order that they might inspect articles which were for sale 
or might show the goods which they themselves had for disposal. The 
Jesuits, however, took care that the Indians did not come into contact 
with these itinerant merchants. 


"In certain villages, such as San Xavier, San Jose and Santo Cora- 
zon," writes M. Bach, "were built, away from the other houses, so-called 
ramadas, which were equipped with all the necessary furniture and in 
which the foreign merchants had to stay. Here they were given plenty 
to eat and drink and a good bed, with every possible comfort, everything 
being provided free of charge, but they were kept under supervision like 
prisoners. As soon as they Arrived, armed guards were posted at all the 
approaches to the ramada, with strict orders not to speak to the visi- 
tors. . . . The foreign merchant was allowed to stay three days at the 

Not only were the Indians protected against monetary temptations by 
the fact that natural products constituted the only form of wealth, but 
those in charge of this unique state were also never in a position to ac- 
cumulate riches. They had themselves persuaded the Spanish crown to 
issue a decree that the fathers should not have a share in the produce of 
the settlements, but that on the contrary the Indians should receive the 
entire profit which accrued. The heads of each reduction were therefore 
required to submit periodically to their provincial detailed accounts of 
their income and expenditure. 

Each reduction constituted a self-contained unit. Two fathers took 
charge of the settlement, serving as priests, doctors, teachers and over- 
seers of the work to be carried out. The civil administration was dele- 
gated to a corregidor elected by the community, several regidores and 
alcaldes, together with a communal council ; all these officials were In- 
dians, the Jesuits endeavouring to encourage the greatest possible degree 
of autonomy. Under the guidance of the fathers, the natives adminis- 
tered justice, managed the food-stores and supervised the normal prog- 
ress of work. In addition to these political organizations, there were 
regular trade guilds with native officials ; thus the weavers, the smiths, 
the carpenters and other trades had their own alcaldes, the women elected 
a female overseer and in addition there was for the young people 
an alcalde, who looked after the children until they reached the age of 

Father Peramas gives the following account of the external appear- 
ance of one of these settlements : "The church always formed the centre 
of the regular reductions; it was spacious, built of solid materials and 
usually extremely handsome. On one side of the church was the ceme- 
tery and on the other the collegiate buildings, including the school. Near 
the latter stood the village hall together with the granaries in which the 
goods of the community were stored, and the artisans' workshops. Near 


the cemetery was the widows' home, a part of which served as a hospital. 
In front of the church there was always a spacious square containing a 
statue, and around this square stood, usually arranged at right angles to 
one another, the one-storied dwellings of the Indians with their project- 
ing roofs or galleries. 

"An Indian parish police force was responsible for the preservation of 
law and order, performing its functions with the greatest possible le- 
niency and indulgence. Should it be necessary to bring a transgressor 
to justice, he was first interrogated by the corregidor in the absence of 
witnesses ; should this course be fruitless, he became liable to penalties 
which might include whipping and imprisonment. In every settlement, 
the death penalty was totally abolished, and incorrigible malefactors 
could be punished only by banishment to distant reductions. Women 
could be punished by enforced confinement in the widows' home. 

"From the constitutional point of view, Paraguay might best be de- 
scribed as a confederation, for the reductions were completely auton- 
omous in regard to their domestic affairs, only such matters as foreign 
trade and military service being dealt with by the settlements as a cor- 
porate state. The relations with the kingdom of Spain were analogous 
to those of a modern dominion ; Paraguay owed allegiance direct to the 
ruling monarch, and under the royal patent possessed complete autonomy, 
having its own courts of law and its own military organization. The 
settlements were only required to pay qn annual tax, and, in case of war, 
to render military assistance only within the bounds of South America; 
in other respects, the Madrid government had no voice in the administra- 
tion of affairs." 

In this way the Jesuits, basing their scheme on an accurate study of 
the capabilities and weaknesses of their Indians, had been able to set up 
in Paraguay that communist state which, two centuries later, humanity 
still regards approvingly as an ideal to be aimed at. Everything that could 
ever be hoped for by a Utopian under a communist regime was here to be 
found translated into reality : the state ownership of natural products 
and of foodstuffs, the abolition of the monetary system which was the 
cause of so much unhappiness, the equality of all citizens of the state, the 
abolition of every form of material distress, provision for the needs of 
the aged, infirm, widows and orphans, the liability of all citizens to per- 
form some kind of work subject to an eight-hour day, the education of 
children at the expense of the state, and freedom on the part of all to 
choose their own vocation. 

From the administrative point of view, moreover, the Indian state 


harmonized with the most modern democratic demands, for its citizens 
were not subject to the repressive measures of autocratic officials, their 
freedom being restricted only where necessary in the public interest ; the 
officials of this republic, elected as they were by popular suffrage, were 
merely selfless agents for the welfare of all. 

Nevertheless, private ownership of property was not entirely abol- 
ished, and, side by side with communal property, there existed a sys- 
tem of individual ownership, although such wealth could not be acquired 
by the exploitation of others, nor could its growth constitute a danger to 
the community. This state of affairs had been brought about without any 
resort to force, indeed its introduction had been acclaimed by those con- 
cerned, and the national organization under which such a model mode of 
life existed continued to function for a century and a half. 

In that it actually existed, and that without ever costing the lives of 
those who held differing ideas, the communist state of the Jesuits in 
Paraguay differed materially from the similar experiment of the present 
day, an experiment which, despite the sacrifice of innumerable lives, has 
so far remained a Utopia chiefly on paper. 

The Armed Forces of the Jesuit Republic 

Such a state, founded as it was on the theory that the Indians pos- 
sessed rights as human beings, and established as it was amidst a colonial 
territory the chief industry of which was the slave trade, could not but 
be regarded as a bold challenge to its neighbours. Had not this independ- 
ent state of Paraguay recently robbed the man-hunters of their valu- 
able prey? To tolerate this would be tantamount to endangering the 
whole of European civilization in South America. 

At first, efforts were made to negotiate with the Jesuits with a view to 
dividing certain of the settlements situated on the frontiers into en- 
comiendas, but the masters of Paraguay quoted the royal patents and 
talked of Gospel brotherhood, an argument which the colonial officials 
regarded as most irrelevant. Nevertheless, the royal patents could not be 
questioned, and therefore the whites had at first to leave the matter to 
the so-called "Mamelukes." 

This word was used to designate a horde of mestizos, descendants of 
European bandits and convicts, who had intermarried with Indian 
women. In well-armed troops, the Mamelukes traversed the country 
around their settlements, robbing and plundering on all sides. 

The colonial authorities now thought fit to draw the attention of the 


Mamelukes to the existence of the Indian settlements, and to suggest that 
they should make these the object of their future forays. The Mameluke 
troops therefore invaded Paraguay in rapidly increasing numbers, cap- 
tured all the natives whom they could seize, and sold them in the ports. 
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, some 60,000 reduction 
Indians were thus dragged into slavery. 

After exhausting every possible means of inducing the Governor of 
La Plata to intervene, the Jesuits decided to evacuate the regions ex- 
posed to the incursions of the Mamelukes, and they removed 12,000 of 
their Indians down the Parana through the thick forests, into a more 
remote and less exposed district. 

But the Mamelukes soon began their incursions into this latter district, 
receiving a good deal of encouragement from the Portuguese author- 
ities. True, the Jesuits were able to secure the issue of a special papal 
brief, in which the Governor of Brazil was required, under penalty of 
excommunication, to put a stop to this state of affairs, but as the Mame- 
lukes were acting in the interests of all the man-hunters and slave- 
dealers, the pope's words went, of course, unheeded. 

In these circumstances, Father Montoya, who was at that time in 
charge of the threatened settlements, was forced to the conclusion that 
in this world even the Kingdom of Christ could not dispense with fire- 
arms. He therefore petitioned the king of Spain for authority to supply 
the Indians with European weapons. As he was able to convince the king 
that such a native army might be able to render useful service to the 
crown, his request was granted. 

Only now did this extraordinary Republic of Paraguay, which had its 
beginnings in a kind of "Indian Choral Society/ 1 become a real state. The 
fathers immediately set up an efficient military system, armed the Indians 
throughout the country, and established cannon foundries and small- 
arms factories. From this time onwards, each reduction had to main- 
tain two companies of soldiers under the command of Indian caciques: 
officers and men wore uniforms of a Spanish pattern, and regularly 
held drills and manoeuvres under the supervision of the fathers. 

"Every Monday," a missionary wrote home at that period, "the local 
corregidor holds a parade on the square and has the troops drilled. They 
are then divided into two sides which attack each other, sometimes with 
so much ardour that it becomes necessary to sound the retreat lest an ac- 
cident should occur. ... A troop of cavalry constantly patrols the 
neighbourhood and reports on everything which it observes. The narrow 
passes giving access to the country are closely guarded. ... In case of 


emergency, we could at once raise a force of 30,000 mounted Indians who 
are well acquainted with the use of sabre and musket, who can form 
squadrons and carry out their manoeuvres correctly. They are all paraded 
and drilled by the fathers." 

This armed force soon had an opportunity of proving its military skill. 
When the fortress of San Sacramento was beleaguered during a quarrel 
with the Portuguese, the Republic of Paraguay, within eleven days, sent 
to the aid of the Spanish commander a corps of 3300 cavalry and 200 
sharpshooters with the necessary baggage train. During this campaign, 
600 Indians and a German father were killed by the enemy. King Philip V 
had therefore every justification for describing the Paraguay army as 
the "military bulwark of Spain." 

Moreover, the Spaniards were soon afterwards to be afforded ample 
evidence of the excellence of the Indian army, when they themselves had 
to take the field against them and suffered reverse after reverse. This 
occurred in 1750, when the courts of Madrid and Lisbon decided to settle 
their continual disputes regarding their respective frontiers at the ex- 
pense of the Paraguay settlements, Spain agreeing under a treaty to hand 
over to Portugal seven districts in the Indian territories. 

The Portuguese authorities then demanded that these settlements 
should be evacuated by their Indian inhabitants, a proposal which met 
with great opposition from the latter. The Jesuits had recourse to diplo- 
matic pressure, enabling them to secure a postponement of the official 
surrender of these territories to Portugal, during which period they were 
able to organize an armed resistance, and the Spanish and Portuguese 
officers who were appointed to settle the new boundary line had to retire 
on encountering considerable bodies of Indian troops, leaving their task 

The Portuguese General Gomez Freire d'Andrade, in a letter ad- 
dressed at this juncture to the Spanish commander, the Marquis of 
Valdelirios, said : "Your Excellency will have satisfied himself from the 
letters and reports which you have received that the fathers of the Soci- 
ety are virtual rebels. If we do not remove these 'holy fathers' from the 
villages, we shall meet with nothing but mutiny, sedition and con- 
tempt. ... All these facts, the mere report of which horrified us, can 
no longer be doubted now that we have had an opportunity of investigat- 
ing the circumstances." 

During the following year, Spanish and Portuguese forces proceeded 
to attack the Jesuit Republic. The Spaniards, however, had to withdraw 
to the banks of the La Plata, on encountering bodies of Indian troops of 


considerably greater numerical strength than themselves, while the Por- 
tuguese, who had advanced westwards from Sao Pedro do Rio Grande, 
were equally unsuccessful; the Indians, under the leadership of the 
fathers, continually harassed them and enticed them into ambushes, 
thereby compelling them to conclude an armistice. 

It having become evident that separate action was impracticable, the 
Spanish joined forces with the Portuguese in a combined attack. They 
immediately found themselves faced by a regular system of fortified 
works defended by guns, from which the Indians could be evicted only 
after a desperate struggle costing many lives, after which the Indians 
withdrew to a new line of defence in the mountains, the capture of which 
so exhausted the troops that a further advance had to be deferred for 
some weeks. It was not until six months after the commencement of 
hostilities that the European troops entered the first Indian settlement, 
which had been abandoned by its inhabitants and put to flames. One after 
the other, the seven districts to be surrendered to Portugal had to be con- 
quered, during which process an entire Spanish cavalry brigade was at- 
tacked and captured by the Indians. 

Only by bringing up a fresh army as reinforcements was the Portu- 
guese general finally able to cope with the situation ; the Jesuits withdrew 
their troops to the eastern bank of the Uruguay, where the expeditionary 
force now found itself confronted by an Indian army 14,000 strong. 

In the meantime, the Republic had also had to fight for its life in the 
north, for in that direction also a Spanish-Portuguese frontier agree- 
ment had been concluded at its expense. As the Jesuits did not possess 
sufficient troops to offer armed resistance simultaneously on two fronts, 
they organized a complete strike and an extensive boycott movement in 
the north. 

The Boundary Commission wishing to leave the Rio Negro, the In- 
dian workpeople in Para, the capital of the province, went on strike in 
order to prevent the departure of the commissioners. Boatmen could not 
be found to row their craft, and when eventually they were forcibly re- 
cruited, it was learned that, under the orders of the Jesuits, the Indians 
had deserted their villages in all parts of the province, taking all their 
foodstuffs with them. 

In a letter from the Bishop of Para to the court of Lisbon, it is stated 
that "the missionaries went so far in disobedience as explicitly to for- 
bid the natives in all the villages on the banks of the Tapajos to plant 
breadfruit trees. Acting under their instructions, the Indians refused to 
sell anything to the white people. . . ." 


In the meantime, the fathers also endeavoured to make the Portuguese 
troops harmless by undermining their discipline. The governor-general 
reported at the time that "Father Aleixo Antonio tried to get on friendly 
terms with certain officers, and, under the virtuous pretext of instructing 
them in the Exercises of Saint Ignatius, persuaded them to remain in the 
college. ... He and his fellow-fathers did their best to convince the 
officers that I had left the city without orders from his Majesty, and that 
I had of my own initiative led the army into these forests where they were 
doomed to perish of starvation. All this, they stated, I had done to gratify 
my own whim." 

It soon afterwards happened that Portuguese troops deserted to the 
Jesuits, taking with them their ammunition and rations. But the fury of 
the higher command reached its climax when, during a further advance, 
the troops found themselves confronted by a Jesuit defensive work armed 
with guns and held by the Indians under the leadership of two fathers. 
This fortress was so skilfully constructed that the Portuguese suspected 
that the two fathers were really not priests at all, but disguised engineer 

A Forest Utopia 

But soon after this period, better times were to dawn for the South 
American slave-dealers, for now, after the unexpected difficulties over 
the boundary settlement, their complaints against the accursed fathers 
who for a century and a half had ruined their business were to find will- 
ing listeners. Even the authorities in Madrid and Lisbon allowed them- 
selves to be convinced that the "human rights of the Indians" constituted 
a grave danger to the whole colonial policy. 

The most serious accusations were made against the Jesuits ; it was al- 
leged that the taxes levied by the Jesuits bore no proportion to the 
enormous trade income of the country. It was further stated that the 
fathers had arbitrarily concluded formal treaties with the neighbouring 
Indian tribes, that they had gone so far as to order their subjects to re- 
fuse obedience to the Spanish and Portuguese authorities, and even that 
in Paraguay there was a Jesuit king called Nicholas, who had issued 
golden coins bearing his own image. 

If all this was not sufficient to induce the authorities in Europe to adopt 
energetic measures, the enemies of the Jesuits were able to bring forward 
another argument which could not fail to produce the desired effect. It 
was now alleged that the fathers had discovered gold mines in Paraguay, 
whose existence they had kept strictly secret. 


An Indian even came to the Governor of Buenos Ayres with a map 
of the country showing these gold mines, on which the fortifications con- 
structed by the Jesuits for the defence of this treasure were also clearly 
marked. The governor immediately set out to investigate the matter on 
the spot, but, though he failed to discover the least trace of the gold 
mines, no one from that time onwards had any doubt regarding the exist- 
ence there of untold wealth. This firm conviction had an effect which 
would not have been produced so rapidly in any other way ; all concerned 
with the Spanish colonial possessions, from the prime minister down to 
the least junior official, were inspired by the one passionate idea of ob- 
taining possession of this gold. 

The general enmity which had meanwhile grown up against the Soci- 
ety of Jesus in the European courts, in the convents, boudoirs and pro- 
fessors' studies, naturally strengthened the decision to overthrow the 
Jesuit Republic. In 1759, the order was banished from Portugal, and in 
1767 the same thing happened in Spain, and the Spanish premier, 
Aranda, took the necessary steps to put an end to Jesuit rule in Paraguay. 

A number of commissioners were dispatched to the settlements, and 
these officials ransacked every college and every drawer, in search of the 
mythical wealth of the Jesuits, but in this they were bitterly disappointed. 

"Their first concern," Father Florian Baucke reports regarding his 
experiences at the hands of these commissioners, "was to take possession 
of my few belongings. Even the most unimportant item of furniture was 
recorded, the length and width of the table, and the wood of which it was 
made. After searching every coffer and box, they asked where the money 
was. I told them that we had none, since we always obtained everything 
we needed by barter. . . ." 

"When the Jesuits in Santa Fe were thrown into prison," also writes 
Alexander von Humboldt, "no trace was found on them of the piles of 
piastres, the emeralds of Muzo, the gold ingots of Choco, which the 
enemies of the Society had alleged they possessed. The erroneous con- 
clusion was arrived at that these treasures had really existed, but had 
been entrusted to faithful Indians, and concealed in the cataracts of the 
Orinoco until the order should be restored at some future date." Disap- 
pointed of their booty, the Spaniards and Portuguese treated the im- 
prisoned fathers with every brutality, at first keeping them in close 
confinement like malefactors, and then transporting them to Europe be- 
tween decks in their men-of-war. 

The churches, schools and workshops of the Jesuits were either de- 
molished or allowed to fall into ruins. As to the fate of the library estab- 


lished by the Jesuits in Paraguay, a Protestant author writes as f oHows : 
"This magnificent collection suffered the same fate as the famous Alex- 
andrian library. It was not an Omar, nor the savages of the Gran Chaco 
who destroyed them, but Christians, spiritual descendants of that Theo- 
dosius who ordered the destruction of the Alexandrian library. They used 
most of the Jesuits' books for making cartridges, for baking biscuits, 
or for lantern lights, and I had a similar experience to that of the his- 
torian Orosius, who found in Alexandria only the empty bookcases of 
the library which was formerly there." 

Secular officials were appointed to take charge of the settlements which 
had been deprived of their masters, and they made it their first business 
to seize for their own benefit the church ornaments, the foodstuffs in the 
granaries, and the cattle. But, as they could no longer sing and make 
music in the settlements, many of the Indians escaped from their new 
rulers by fleeing to and wandering aimlessly in the dense forests which 
the fathers had formerly induced them to leave. 

In theory, the system of common ownership of property remained in 
force in the depopulated settlements, and it was not until 1848 that the 
Paraguayan dictator, Lopez, issued a decree finally abolishing the com- 
munist form of government among the Indians. As from that date, the in- 
habitants of the former Jesuit state became citizens of the Paraguayan 
Republic, and their storehouses and property were sequestrated by the 

"When we consider," writes Joseph de Maistre, "that this order, in- 
spired by the doctrines of the Christian church, founded its rulership in 
Paraguay solely on the influence of its virtues and of its talents, that the 
Jesuits taught the savages of South America to appreciate the magic in- 
fluence t>f music, when finally we remember that it was only through the 
co-operation of corrupt ministries and of courts of justice which had been 
seized by madness that it became possible to overthrow this magnificent 
Society, then only can we visualize in our imagination that madman who 
rejoicingly tramples a clock beneath his feet, crying the while : 1 will 
stop your noise !' " 

Again, Montesquieu remarks in his Esprit des lois: "The Society of 
Jesus may pride itself on the fact that it was the first to prove to the 
world that religion and humanity are compatible." Even the "Encyclo- 
paedists," those bitter enemies of the Jesuit order, were forced to admit 
that, in that unique state in the primeval forests of Brazil, a high moral 
project had almost been carried into effect. "By means of religion," re- 
marks d'Alembert, "the Jesuits established a monarchical authority in 

From a contemporary report. 


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Paraguay, founded solely on their powers of persuasion and on their 
lenient methods of government. Masters of the country, they rendered, 
happy the people under their sway; they succeeded in subduing tfiern 
without ever having recourse to force." Finally, Voltaire describes the 
Jesuits' missions as "a triumph of humanity." 

It is true that, from the early days of the eighteenth century up to our 
own time, there have been those who have sought to depreciate the value 
of what was done in Paraguay, and to cast doubt on the fathers' in- 
tegrity. They simply could not admit that such an ideal state really ex- 
isted, still less that it should have been the work of the hated Jesuits. 

Those critics who, as the result of investigations, were compelled to 
admit the reality of the Indian state of Paraguay and of its institutions 
denied that the Jesuits possessed any originality, and sought to prove 
that what they had established was founded on certain political novels 
written in the sixteenth century. It is true that, if we compare the Jesuit 
Republic with the Island of Utopia which was invented by the English 
Lord Chancellor, More, we find remarkable coincidences : like Paraguay, 
Utopia consists of a number of cities planned on the same lines, each of 
them forming the centre of an agricultural district of a prescribed size. 
The inhabitants are not the owners but the tenants of the land, which be- 
longs to the community. Each citizen has to perform a certain amount 
of agricultural work and is further allocated a trade to follow. The men 
carry on weaving, mason's and potter's work, wood-work and metal- 
work, while the women are chiefly engaged in spinning. 

We find equally surprising resemblances between the institutions in 
the Jesuit settlements and those in the "City of the Sun" which was 
imaginatively described by the Dominican monk, Campanella. This 
"City of the Sun" is a republic ruled by a priest, its whole social life 
being based on pure communism and on the administration of produc- 
tive wealth by the state. All property is held in common, and every citi- 
zen is required to work, the lighter forms of labour being allotted to the 
women. Among the arts, music is specially cultivated, and when the 
"Solarians" make thank-offerings to their God, these take the form of 

It would, however, be equally easy to find similar parallels in every 
other communist Utopia, but it has ever been the case that all these visions 
of an ideal state with no class distinctions have sprung from the world- 
old day-dream, common to the whole of civilized humanity, of Paradise 

This reflection brings us nearer to an understanding of how it came 


to pass that the Jesuits were able to set up their Utopia in Paraguay. Far 
from having modelled their state on any preconceived theories, the fa- 
thers rather made the primitive innocence of their Indians the basis of 
the whole of the economic and political organization of their settlements. 

When a group of learned dreamers attempted to bring about the 
establishment of Communism in the twentieth century, they were at 
once faced by an infinitely difficult task. For, no matter how backward 
the Russians may be, compared with the remainder of Europe, they are 
nevertheless Europeans in this, that they differ from one another in in- 
numerable ways according to the nature of their talents and vices, of 
their desires and passions ; they had long since lost that holy simplicity, 
that absence of individuality, that lack of material needs, which in Para- 
guay facilitated the establishment of a classless and ideal state. 

For this reason, despite immeasurable bloodshed, Bolshevism has so 
far fallen far short of its aims, but the Jesuits in Paraguay had merely 
to adapt their rules to the desires and needs of their uncivilized forest 
Indians, and, under their guidance, the ''ideal Communist state" came 
into being entirely of its own motion. 


The Struggle with the English Police Agents 

TTJVDR weeks past Queen Elizabeth's spies had examined, from deck 
j to hold, every boat that put into Dover, in search of the danger- 
ous Jesuit priests of whose arrival confidential reports had been received. 
Commissioned by the pope, these paid emissaries of Rome were to create 
unrest among the English people, and to stir up conspiracies against the 
queen and the established Church. 

Ship followed ship into Dover, however, without the slightest trace 
of the expected Jesuits, until eventually a captain who had crossed from 
Calais was able to give what seemed to be reliable information concern- 
ing them. Two Jesuits of the names of Robert Parsons and Edmund 
Campion, so he alleged, were making their final preparations to cross 
to England on the next boat. The captain described in full detail the ap- 
pearance and the dress of both priests, and for hours on end kept the 
police agents on tiptoes listening to his account of the treasonable aims 
of these Papist emissaries. 

Before the captain left them in order to proceed to London, he men- 
tioned that in a few days' time an Irish merchant of the name of Patrick 
would arrive in Dover ; he requested the harbour-master to endorse the 
papers of this man Patrick with as little delay as possible, as he had im- 
portant business to transact with him in London. 

When, shortly after, the Irish merchant in question did, in fact, ar- 
rive, accompanied by a servant, and reported to the authorities, the 
harbour-master was only too ready to pass in the friend of the worthy 
captain who had supplied such valuable information regarding the infa- 
mous Jesuits. 

Some few days later, however, the master received a sharp reprimand 
from his superior officer : how did he account for the fact that the two 
Jesuits, Parsons and Campion, had arrived in England in spite of all 
the precautionary measures that had been taken ? Their presence in Lon- 
don had been established beyond all doubt. It was only then that the un- 



happy police at Dover realized that the distinguished ship's captain who 
had instructed them at such length concerning the Jesuits was none other 
than Father Parsons, whilst the second Jesuit, Campion, had slipped in 
in the guise of the Irish merchant Patrick. 

A feverish search for the Papist priests was started throughout Lon- 
don, especially as secret advices had reached the authorities that the 
fathers had held a meeting of Catholics, and exhorted those present to 
remain stanch to the Roman Church and to resist the commands of the 

A clever spy ascertained that the traitors for whom search was being 
made were staying at the house of the Catholic, Gilbert. They were liv- 
ing there in a small, isolated attic at the top of the house, and opened their 
window cautiously only at nighttime. If they went out in order to visit 
their fellow-conspirators, they did so between the hours of two and four 
in the morning, when no one else in the neighbourhood was awake. 

Gilbert's house was surrounded and thoroughly searched, and the 
whole household dosely interrogated, but no trace of the fathers was 
found. They had changed their quarters. By the time the whereabouts of 
their new retreat had been betrayed, it was at once apparent that the fugi- 
tives had changed their quarters again. In the end, it almost seemed as if 
the Jesuits spent every night under a different roof. 

Finally, the authorities compiled a list of all the houses in London that 
were occupied by Catholics and might serve as places of concealment for 
the Jesuits. Hardly had the list been completed, however, when the news 
was received that the fathers had left London some considerable time 
previously, that they had appeared in Oxford, and had distributed among 
the students there an inflammatory libel against the established Church. 
After prolonged investigations, the police agents succeeded in ascertain- 
ing that this pamphlet had been printed by the Jesuits on a secret print- 
ing press at Stonors Park near Henley ; when arrangements had been 
made to confiscate it, it had already disappeared, and the pamphlets were 
now being distributed from an outlying county. When search was made 
for the Jesuits in that particular county, the residents declared that they 
had indeed been there, had preached and heard confession, but had 
already disappeared on their way to another county, leaving no clues 
behind them. On only one occasion did the government agents fall aright 
on a Catholic country house, merely to see in the distance Father 
Campion galloping off on horseback. 

"We shall not long be able to escape the hands of the heretics," wrote 
Campion at that time from his hiding-place to Rome ; "so many eyes are 


centred on us, so many enemies beset us. I am constantly disguised, and 
am continually changing both my dress and my name." 

Finally, the police did actually succeed in seizing Father Campion 
at the moment when he was in the act of celebrating mass before a small 
Catholic community. With his hands tied behind his back, his feet 
bound by a rope passing under the belly of his horse, on his hat a notice 
which read "Edmund Campion, the rebellious Jesuit," he was brought 
to London, and conducted through an avenue of gaping onlookers to 
the Tower. After vain efforts had been made to induce him by torture on 
the rack to disclose the names of his accomplices, he was condemned to 
death for high treason, hanged and quartered. 

Thus, at least, was the "Irish merchant," who had for so long fooled 
the queen's officers, prevented for all time from doing any further mis- 
chief ; but of what avail was this, when reports were now coming in from 
all parts of England of new activities of the Jesuits? On all sides, 
Papist priests appeared in every conceivable disguise, and incited the 
people against the government, declaring the established Church to be 
the offspring of Satan; they then administered the sacrament to the 
Catholics, after which they disappeared completely again. 

Such news was received from many parts, and it seemed as if the 
whole of England were suddenly overrun by Jesuits. It was some time 
before the government agents discovered that they had to deal, not with 
many hundreds, but with a handful of opponents. Although long lists had 
been prepared of all the known names and personal descriptions of the 
Jesuits active in England, it became apparent that ten or twenty of such 
names belonged to one and the same priest, that ten or twenty personal 
descriptions represented merely the various disguises of a single priest. 

One among this evil group at last fell into the hands of the law, one 
who, above all others, had led the agents of the law a tantalizing dance 
for some years. His real name was Thomas Holland, but even among 
his closest associates he was known under the name of Saunderson, and 
this Father Holland-Saunderson assumed various identities, appearing 
now as a clean-shaven young man, now as an old man with a flowing 
beard, now as a servant, now as a wealthy merchant, and now as a 
haughty nobleman. It was not without justification that the police 
agent into whose hands he at last fell boasted that, in the person of 
this one man, he had arrested at a single stroke a dozen treasonable 

An Englishman by birth, Holland-Saunderson was clever enough to 
be able at will to invest his native tongue with a French, Flemish or 


Spanish accent, and in addition to speak French, Flemish and Spanish 
so perfectly that everybody took him to be a foreigner. He had often 
appeared disguised among his friends, who had time and again believed 
themselves to be in the presence of a foreigner. After his arrest, quite a 
collection of false beards, wigs and apparel appropriate to every station 
and walk in life was discovered among his effects. 

After every arrest, the police could indeed strike out a number of 
names from the list of agitators for whom they were searching; but 
they immediately had to add a like number of others. However many 
false beards, wigs and disguises they succeeded in confiscating, there 
were always more than enough beards, wigs and disguises available to 
the Jesuits to enable them to continue their activities. 

Where, however, was the centre of all these treasonable practices? 
The English police authorities diligently sought out these secret head- 
quarters of the Jesuits, and the informer who could assist them in the 
discovery was sure of a rich reward. 

Such an informer appeared, and directed the attention of the police 
agents to Hindlip Hall near Worcester, the seat of the Abingtons, a dis- 
tinguished Catholic family. The castle, which the police proceeded to 
raid, was a strong building, square in shape and surrounded by a solid 
wall. Its gates were burst open, but those who broke in were imme- 
diately lost in a maze of winding passages and staircases which had 
obviously been designed to make it difficult for strangers to find their 
way about. When, therefore, the police agents, after very considerable 
trouble, had searched all the apartments of the castle, they had to con- 
fess that the extensive building was unoccupied and deserted. Finally, 
they departed discomfited. 

Not long afterwards, a stanch Anglican nobleman rode in from the 
neighbourhood of Hindlip, and reported to the authorities that, shortly 
after the withdrawal of the police agents, the castle had again been oc- 
cupied, and that not only the Abington family but a number of strange 
Papists had been seen passing in and out. 

It was not until a considerable time later that, under the inducement 
of a large reward, a servant employed at the castle was found who was 
prepared to afford the police the solution of the mystery. To their amaze- 
ment, the queen's agents learned that the panelled walls of the large hall 
of the castle concealed a number of spacious hiding-places, that all the 
rooms were connected by secret staircases and trap-doors with the cel- 
lars, and that even the fireplaces contained, alongside the flues, small 
chambers into which a person could crawl. 







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n Apologie for 

oil the iuft, yet moderate punifhment of a 

part of rhcfchainous Offenders -fhall cafi- 
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