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THE WHOLE SOCIETY
|Prayers for Germany and
Rome, June 25, 1553
summary | text
of letter | footnotes
Peter Canisius, writing to Ignatius from Vienna, sometime in June or July
1553, asked him to request Masses and prayers from the members of the Society
for Germany and the northern countries suffering the ravages of the
Reformation. Ignatius took to the idea and immediately wrote a letter to the
entire Society requesting these prayers and stipulated that the priests were
to celebrate Mass once a month for this intention, and that the nonpriests
were to offer their prayers for the same. Ignatius did not restrict this order
to European houses, but also asked the prayers of the brethren in India.
Though Canisius did not mention England by name, Ignatius does so in his
letter for news had recently arrived that Mary Tudor had succeeded to the
English throne, and with a Catholic queen now ruling England Ignatius hoped
that that nation would soon be brought back to the Catholic faith. Since this
letter was directed to all Jesuits, it was written in Latin [Ep.
Ignatius of Loyola,
General of the Society of Jesus, to my beloved brothers in Christ, superiors
and subjects of the Society of Jesus, everlasting health in our Lord.
The order of charity
by which we should love the whole body of the Church in her head, Jesus
Christ, requires a remedy to be applied, especially to that part which is more
seriously and dangerously affected. Therefore, it seems to us that we should,
as far as our slender resources allow, to bestow with special attention the
help the Society is able to give to Germany and England and the northern
nations which are so grievously afflicted with the disease of heresy.
Though many of us
have already carefully attended to this by other means,1 applying
Masses and prayers for many years now, still, in order to give this duty of
charity a wider field and a longer life, we enjoin on all rectors and
superiors, who are placed over others, to celebrate, if they are priests, and
to have those under their authority celebrate one Mass each month to God; and
those who are not priests, their prayers for the spiritual needs of Germany
and England, so that at length the God of these nations and of all others that
are infected with heresy may have pity on them and deign to lead them back to
the purity of the Christian faith and religion.
It is our desire
that these prayers continue as long as these nations need our help, and that
no province, even those in farthest India, be exempt from this duty of
From Rome, July 25,
||Among these means would have been the sending of
Jesuits to Ingolstadt in 1549, to Vienna in 1551, and the opening of
the German College in Rome in 1552.