REGULATIONS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS
Ordinationes praepositorum generalium instructiones & formulae communes toti societati. Auctoritate v. congregationis generalis recognitae.
Rome, Collegio Rom., eiusdem Societat., 1606.
FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. (xvi), 266, (xxxviii). ✛8, A-T8. (✛8 and last blank.) Roman letter, some Italic. Title within large architectural border incorporating a portrait of Ignatius Loyola, woodcut initials, headpieces and ornaments, “collegii societatii Jessu Brunbruti” manuscript at head of title. Slight age yellowing, marginal spotting and foxing, a couple of upper margins slightly soiled, small oil/ wax stain to fore-edge of title and first leaf. A generally good copy in contemporary vellum over boards.
New edition of the regulations of the Society of Jesus incorporating many of the revisions of the Fifth General Congregation of the Society of 1592-3. Policy for the whole Society was set by General Congregations, the Jesuit equivalent of the General chapters of the Mendicant orders; they met rarely, either upon the death of the General, to elect his successor, or for especially serious matters. The increasing international nature of the Jesuit movement, especially with its missions in Asia, Africa, and South America meant the congregation had to deal with such disparate and diverse subjects as the Jesuits’ role after the Council of Trent, the teaching of Philosophy in Jesuit Schools, and the apparel worn on Chinese missions. Another problem dealt with here was that of Confessors. The congregation again took note of the problem of the confessors of kings and of “political Jesuits” and sternly again forbade any involvement in politics.
“The practice of furnishing confessors to the mighty was troublesome to the Society’s generals and even the confessors’ fellow Jesuits. Confessors who had proved congenial to their political masters could not be withdrawn, however objectionable and detrimental to the Society’s reputation their conduct might seem, without mortally offending good Catholic princes and Patrons of the Society. Generals and General Congregations responded with regulations – the Society’s first response to any difficulty. At the Fifth General Congregation of 1592-3 which debated the matter in some detail, some delegates thought the whole business brought the Society many more troubles than benefits. The congregation issued restrictive decrees intended to leave confessors less latitude for swanning about in the courts of princes. Aquaviva eventually issued his definitive Instructions for Confessors of Princes in 1602. (Instructio XXI pro confessariss principum … first published Roman College, 1606, pp. 175-83).” Harro Höpfl. ‘Jesuit Political Thought: The Society of Jesus and the State, C. 1540-1630.’
An insight into the Society at a seminal moment in its history. The regulations also set out extensively the scheme of instruction in Jesuit schools which, virtually unaltered, was to provide the highest standard of children’s education for the next 350 years.
BM STC It. C17th p. 452.