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Saint Vincent's Reading List XLIV: Vincent and the Jesuits

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 8/26/2013 9:06:00 AM

Déclaration de l'Institut de la Compagnie de Jésus: En Laquelle Sont Contenues par Deduction les Responses aux Principales Objections Faites Jusques à Present Contre les Jesuites, by François Tacon. Paris: Claude Chappelet, 1615.

Call Number: SpC. 255.53 T119d1615


Portrait of Ignatius of Loyola, courtesy of Penn Libraries.The Society of Jesus was founded in Paris by Ignatius of Loyola in 1540. By the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries the Jesuits in France had become the focus of intense controversy and they were expelled from the kingdom in 1594 after an assassination attempt on Henri IV. The Jesuits’ international character and their identification with Roman authority made them natural targets of the extremist Gallican clergy and members of the Parlement who blamed them for fomenting division within the French Church, and of being disloyal, a charge that included their alleged support of the regicide of unworthy monarchs.

Henri IV, however, was convinced of the Society’s usefulness in rebuilding the French Church and recalled it to France in 1603 with the Edict of Rouen. The terms of this document henceforth tied the Jesuits closely to the Bourbon monarchy and its policies both at home and abroad, and did much to integrate the Society and its activities within the Gallican Church. The assassination of Henri IV in 1610 and the establishment of the regency of Marie de Medici led to another outbreak of anti-Jesuit sentiment among Gallican jurists and ecclesiastics. These anti-Jesuit undercurrents would remain for the rest of the Ancien Régime, and would emerge strongly again during the long Jansenist crisis.

A 17th century Jesuit priest, from Heylot's Histoire des Ordres.For his part, Vincent de Paul, described the Jesuits as “wise men if there are any wise men in this world…”1  According to Louis Abelly, Vincent “often spoke favorably of the religious of the holy Society of Jesus, praising God for the great things they had done in all parts of the world in spreading of the Gospel and for the establishment of the reign of Jesus Christ his Son.”2  Vincent often cited the example of the Jesuits as he and his followers worked to establish the rules and customs that would guide the Congregation of the Mission. Vincent even went so far as to say that the members of his community should think of themselves as the “gleaners” who would “clean up after the great harvesters (the Jesuits).”3

The present volume is a work of Jesuit self-defense during the period following the assassination of Henri IV and the early years of the regency and reign of Louis XIII.


1Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 9. (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 2004), 221.
2Louis Abelly. The Life of the Venerable Servant of God, Vincent de Paul, Vol. 3. Ed. John E. Rybolt, C.M., trans. William Quinn, F.S.C. (New Rochelle, NY: New City, 1993), 102.


St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.


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