Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Jesuits in England.

Wikipedia commons.
 This morning, after Mass, I was lent a book on the life of Saint Henry Morse. While I was reading it, I found a very interesting bit, about the number of Jesuits in England during the Reformation.
 Saint Henry Morse was born in England in 1595, and had 13 brothers and sisters! He went to Douai in 1614, and there, "he renounced his former errors, and was received into the Roman Catholic Church, the mistress of all Churches". He went back to England to sort out his Inheritance, but on arriving in England, he was immediately arrested, and told to take the oath of allegiance. Henry refused, and was thrown into prison where he spent the next 4 years. 4 years later, he was released, and exiled to France. He made his way back to Douai, but there were so many students there, that people had to be sent away to English seminaries in Rome and Spain. Henry was sent to Rome, and in 1623, was ordained a Priest. He went back to England, and that is as far as I have got in the book! As far as I can see from the blurb, he looked after the victims of the plague in London, and was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
 Now for the bit about the number of Jesuits in England:
"Fr. Blount's discretion and enterprise set the pattern for his priests. In 1598 when Blount took his first vows in the Society in Fr. Garnet's house in Spitalfields, there were 15 Jesuits at liberty in England, with another 4 in prison. In 1606, in spite of the disruption that followed the gunpowder plot, the numbers had grown to 45, with the first English noviceship was established at Louvain. The 'mission' henceforth grew rapidly. In 1614, the year that Henry Morse crossed to  and was
confirmed in the College chapel, there were 59 Jesuits in England and many more training abroad. 5 years later, the mission status was raised to a Vice-Province. For the first time, Jesuits in England numbered more than 100; rather more were students or engaged in teaching students abroad. Finally, two years before Morse's arrival, Fr. Blount was declared first provincial. Within another ten years his subjects numbered 344. This is the full flowering of the pioneer work done by the first generation of English Jesuits."
 I wonder just how many Jesuits are in England today?Also, in the current climate, where the state
seems to be crushing religious freedom, could a similar boost in vocations be hoped for?

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