Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection
Roman Catholic Diocese of Ivrea
The Italian Catholic Diocese of Ivrea is in Piedmont. For a time the diocese included the territory which had once been the diocese of Aosta, suppressed in 1803 but restored in 1817. Up until 1517 Ivrea was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Milan. Ivrea is on the Via Francigena, a pilgrim route that started as far away as Canterbury in England, brought pilgrims through the St. Bernard passes in the Alps to Rome. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims could take ship for Jerusalem; the episcopal see of Ivrea is said to have been established by Eusebius of Vercelli about the middle of the fourth century. The first certain bishop is Eulogius. According to a tradition unsupported by evidence, Ivrea is the place where Saint Patrick was consecrated bishop, c. 431, before evangelizing Ireland. Saint Malachy of Armagh passed through Ivrea in 1139 on his way to Rome. In 1847 the Bishop Ivrea sent the Archbishop of Dublin forty pounds for the famine-stricken people of Ireland in memory of an Irish pilgrim who had died in Ivrea in 1492.
In the reign of Pope Gregory V, the bishops of Piedmont wrote an urgent letter to the Pope, complaining about the violent and vicious behavior of King Ardouin, which included the slaying of priests and burning their bodies, hoping that Gregory could use his imperial connection as the grandson of the Emperor Otto I, to help them. Pope Gregory offered his sympathy for the troubles. On 9 July 1000, the Emperor Otto III, on the advice of Archbishop Henribertus of Cologne, confirmed the Bishop of Ivrea in possession of the entire city of Ivrea to a distance of three miles from the city, granted him in addition a number of country districts; this was confirmed by the Emperor Conrad on 1 April 1027, with the statement that the jurisdiction of the bishop extended four miles from the city. Bishop Enrico was the founder of the monastery of Saint Stephen in the diocese of Ivrea in 1044, for which he obtained papal confirmation after the Roman Synod in 1059. On 29 January 1206, Pope Innocent III was so dissatisfied with the administration of the diocese of Ivrea, that he appointed the Bishop of Vercelli, the Abbot of Tileto, the priest Albert of Mantua, to demand the resignation of Bishop Giovanni because he was insufficient to the task.
The Pope ordered that, if he did not resign voluntarily, seeing that charges of simony and neglect had been proven, they were to depose him. When the new bishop, elected in accord with a mandate sent by the Pope to the Archbishop of Milan and the Chapter of Ivrea, arrived in Ivrea, his safety was so threatened that he fled and went into hiding, sending off a letter to Pope Innocent about his situation. On 26 October 1206 the Pope replied, urging him to return to Ivrea, pointing out that a bishop is married to his church and ought not to desert his obligations to his spouse; the Emperor Frederick II convened an imperial diet, to meet at Speyer on 30 November 1218. Bishop Obertus de Cocconato was present, along with Marchese Guglielmo of Monferrat and the bishops of Turin and Novara, they all subscribed the grant by Frederick to Guglielmo of four castles in a charter of 21 February 1219. On 25 February 1219, Frederick confirmed for Obertus the possession of the bishops of Ivrea of the County of Ivrea, as well as all the privileges granted the bishops by his predecessors.
The vassals of the Bishpric of Ivrea were: the Marchese of Monferrato, the Counts of S. Martino, Agliè, Novano and Bairo, the Barons of Parella, Ronodizzone, Burollo, Valle di Chy, Villa di Strambino and Loranzè The bishops, were by no means free of imperial supervision and control; the Emperor Otto IV had appointed a Rector of Ivrea, Guido di Biandrate, renewed by Frederick II on 20 May 1238. But when the contest with Pope Gregory IX was at a fever pitch, Frederick found that he could not control Guido di Biandrate, he appointed in Arnaldo Vasco, Lord of Altesano, as Captain Imperial and Rector of Ivrea and Canavese. In 1248, Frederick gave Ivrea and Canavese to Thomas II, Count of Savoy, though the transfer did not take effect due to the death of the Emperor; this was the beginning of a decline in the power of both the bishop of the commune. The appointment of procurators who never were consecrated bishops and Fredericus de Fronte, a bishop, Joannes de Barono, not consecrated until six years after his appointment, meant long years without strong leadership, until in 1313, the Emperor Henry VII made Ivrea a subject of the Counts of Savoy.
From 1497 to 1612 the bishopric of Ivrea was the exclusive property of the family of Ferrero, the relatives and descendants of Sebastiano Ferrero, Treasurer General of the Dukes of Savoy. In June 1630, a major outbreak of plague struck the area of Ivrea, in the wake of the French invasion of Louis XIII; the city was placed under strict quarantine by the Magistrate of Sanitation, not lifted until 23 April 1631. The shortages of food, which were severe due to the war, were increased, as were the sufferings of the people. In one parish alone, S. Lorenzo fuori le mure, thirty-one people were registered as dead between 1 September 1630 and 23 April 1631. A diocesan synod was an irregularly held, but important, meeting of the bishop of a diocese and his clergy, its purpose was to proclaim the various decrees issued by the bishop.
Pavia is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 kilometres south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It has a population of c. 73,000. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774. Pavia is the capital of the fertile province of Pavia, known for agricultural products including wine, rice and dairy products. Although there are a number of industries located in the suburbs, these tend not to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the town, it is home to the ancient University of Pavia, which together with the IUSS, Ghislieri College, Borromeo College, Nuovo College, Santa Caterina College and the EDiSU, belongs to the Pavia Study System. Pavia is the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Pavia; the city possesses many artistic and cultural treasures, including several important churches and museums, such as the well-known Certosa di Pavia. The Central Hospital of Pavia is one of the most important hospitals in Italy.
Dating back to pre-Roman times, the town of Pavia known as Ticinum, was a municipality and an important military site under the Roman Empire. It was said by Pliny the Elder to have been founded by the Laevi and Marici, two Ligurian tribes, while Ptolemy attributes it to the Insubres; the Roman city most began as a small military camp, built by the consul Publius Cornelius Scipio in 218 BC to guard a wooden bridge he had built over the river Ticinum, on his way to search for Hannibal, rumoured to have managed to lead an army over the Alps and into Italy. The forces of Rome and Carthage ran into each other soon thereafter, the Romans suffered the first of many crushing defeats at the hands of Hannibal, with the consul himself losing his life; the bridge was destroyed, but the fortified camp, which at the time was the most forward Roman military outpost in the Po Valley, somehow survived the long Second Punic War, evolved into a garrison town. Its importance grew with the extension of the Via Aemilia from Ariminum to the Po River, which it crossed at Placentia and there forked, one branch going to Mediolanum and the other to Ticinum, thence to Laumellum where it divided once more, one branch going to Vercellae - and thence to Eporedia and Augusta Praetoria - and the other to Valentia - and thence to Augusta Taurinorum.
It was at Pavia in 476 AD that the reign of Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire ended and Roman rule ceased in Italy. Romulus Augustulus, while considered the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was a usurper of the imperial throne. Though being the emperor, Romulus Augustulus was the mouthpiece for his father Orestes, the person who exercised power and governed Italy during Romulus Augustulus's short reign. Ten months after Romulus Augustulus's reign began, Orestes's soldiers under the command of one of his officers named Odoacer and killed Orestes in the city of Pavia in 476; the rioting that took place as part of Odoacer's uprising against Orestes sparked fires that burnt much of Pavia to the point that Odoacer, as the new king of Italy, had to suspend the taxes for the city for five years so that it could finance its recovery. Without his father, Romulus Augustulus was powerless. Instead of killing Romulus Augustulus, Odoacer pensioned him off at 6,000 solidi a year before declaring the end of the Western Roman Empire and himself king of the new Kingdom of Italy.
Odoacer's reign as king of Italy did not last long, because in 488 the Ostrogothic peoples led by their king Theoderic invaded Italy and waged war against Odoacer. After fighting for 5 years, Theoderic defeated Odoacer and on March 15, 493, assassinated Odoacer at a banquet meant to negotiate a peace between the two rulers. With the establishment of the Ostrogoth kingdom based in northern Italy, Theoderic began his vast program of public building. Pavia was among several cities that Theodoric chose to expand, he began the construction of the vast palace complex that would become the residence of Lombard monarchs several decades later. Theoderic commissioned the building of the Roman-styled amphitheatre and bath complex in Pavia. Near the end of Theoderic's reign the Christian philosopher Boethius was imprisoned in one of Pavia's churches from 522 to 525 before his execution for treason, it was during Boethius's captivity in Pavia that he wrote his seminal work the Consolation of Philosophy. Pavia played an important role in the war between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths that began in 535.
After the Eastern Roman general Belisarius's victory over the Ostrogothic leader Wittigis in 540 and the loss of most of the Ostrogoth lands in Italy, Pavia was among the last centres of Ostrogothic resistance that continued the war and opposed Eastern Roman rule. After the capitulation of the Ostrogothic leadership in 540 more than a thousand men remained garrisoned in Pavia and Verona dedicated to opposing Eastern Roman rule; the resilience of Ostrogoth strongholds like Pavia against invading forces allowed pockets of Ostrogothic rule to limp along until being defeated in 561. Pavia and the peninsula of Italy didn't remain long under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire, for in 568, a new people invaded Italy; this new invading people in 568
Tiglieto Abbey is a monastery in Tiglieto, northern Italy. It was the first Cistercian abbey to be founded in Italy, the first outside France; the abbey is located on the left bank of the brook known as the Orba, 382 metres above sea level in the Province of Genoa, near the border of the Region of Piedmont. The abbey, founded in 1120 at the instigation of Peter of Tarentaise, was a daughter house of La Ferté Abbey; the first abbot was Opizzone. It may have gained the name Tiglieto after being given the estate of that name by the Margrave Anselm of Ponsone in 1131. Communities from Tiglieto settled Staffarda Abbey and Casanova Abbey as its daughter houses, both in the present Region of Piedmont. In 1442, through Pope Eugenius IV, Tiglieto became an abbey in commendam. In 1648 it was turned into a family estate of the last commendatory abbot, Cardinal Raggio, dissolved. In 1747 the area was occupied by the Austrians, who shortly afterwards were driven out by the Genoese. In 2000 Tiglieto was reoccupied by the Cistercians.
The church is a primitive Romanesque brick basilica. The nave was vaulted in the Baroque period, a new choir at the west end was added at the same time, as was a Baroque campanile; the conventual buildings are to the south of the church. The early Gothic chapter house in the east range has survived, with a square chapter room with nine bays from the early 13th century and symmetrical triforium windows looking onto the central courtyard and the site of the cloister, no longer extant, with the dormitory with bricked-up windows in the upper storey, as have the sacristy, the Fraternei and to the south the refectory building, as well as the lay brothers' block in the west, now converted for residential purposes; the entire precinct was renovated for the new community that took over the premises in 2000. Bedini. B. G. 1964: Breve prospetto delle abazie cisterciensi d’Italia. Casamari. Schomann, H. 1982: Reclams Kunstführer Italien I.2, Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun. ISBN 3-15-010305-3 Cistercensi della Certosa di Firenze: Cistercian information Tiglieto Abbey official website
The Fourth Crusade was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first conquering the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. In late 1202, financial issues led to the Crusader army sacking Zara, brought under Venetian control. In January 1203, en-route to Jerusalem, the Crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore his deposed father as Emperor; the intent of the Crusaders was to continue to Jerusalem with promised Byzantine financial and military aid. On 23 June 1203, the bulk of the Crusaders reached Constantinople, while smaller contingents continued to Acre. After the siege of Zara the pope excommunicated the crusader army.
In August, following clashes outside Constantinople, Alexios was crowned co-Emperor. However, in January 1204, he was deposed by a popular uprising; the Crusaders were no longer able to receive their promised payments from Alexios. Following the murder of Alexios on 8 February, the Crusaders decided on the outright conquest of the city. In April 1204, they plundered the city's enormous wealth. Only a handful of the Crusaders continued to the Holy Land thereafter; the conquest of Constantinople was followed by the fragmentation of the Empire into three rump states centred in Nicaea and Epirus. The Crusaders founded several Crusader states in former Byzantine territory hinged upon the Latin Empire of Constantinople; the presence of the Latin Crusader states immediately led to war with the Byzantine successor states and the Bulgarian Empire. The Nicaean Empire recovered Constantinople and restored the Byzantine Empire in 1261; the Crusade is considered to be one of the most prominent acts that solidified the schism between the Greek and Latin Christian churches, dealt an irrevocable blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire, paving the way for Muslim conquests in Anatolia and Balkan Europe in the coming centuries.
Ayyubid Sultan Saladin had conquered most of the Frankish, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the ancient city itself, in 1187. The Kingdom had been established 88 years before, after the capture and sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, a Byzantine holding prior to the Muslim conquests of the 7th century; the city was sacred to Christians and Jews, returning it to Christian hands had been a primary purpose of the First Crusade. Saladin led a Muslim dynasty, his incorporation of Jerusalem into his domains shocked and dismayed the Catholic countries of Western Europe. Legend has it that Pope Urban III died of the shock, but the timing of his death makes that impossible; the crusader states had been reduced to three cities along the sea coast: Tyre and Antioch. The Third Crusade reclaimed an extensive amount of territory for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the key towns of Acre and Jaffa, but had failed to retake Jerusalem; the crusade had been marked by a significant escalation in long standing tensions between the feudal states of western Europe and the Byzantine Empire, centred in Constantinople.
The experiences of the first two crusades had thrown into stark relief the vast cultural differences between the two Christian civilisations. The Latins viewed the Byzantine preference for diplomacy and trade over war as duplicitous and degenerate, their policy of tolerance and assimilation towards Muslims as a corrupt betrayal of the faith. For their part, the educated and wealthy Byzantines maintained a strong sense of cultural and social superiority over the Latins. Constantinople had been in existence for 874 years at the time of the Fourth Crusade and was the largest and most sophisticated city in Christendom. Alone amongst major medieval urban centres, it had retained the civic structures, public baths, forums and aqueducts of classical Rome in working form. At its height, the city held an estimated population of about half a million people behind thirteen miles of triple walls, its planned location made Constantinople not only the capital of the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire but a commercial centre that dominated trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, China and Persia.
As a result, it was both a rival and a tempting target for the aggressive new states of the west, notably the Republic of Venice. One of the leaders of the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa plotted with the Serbs, Byzantine traitors, the Muslim Seljuks against the Eastern Empire and at one point sought Papal support for a crusade against the Orthodox Byzantines. Crusaders seized the breakaway Byzantine province of Cyprus. Barbarossa died on crusade, his army disintegrated, leaving the English and French, who had come by sea, to fight Saladin. In 1195 Henry VI, son and heir of Barbarossa, sought to efface this humiliation by declaring a new crusade, in the summer of 1197 a large number of German knights and nobles, headed by two archbishops, nine bishops, five dukes, sailed for Palestine. There they captured Sidon and Beirut, but at the news of Henry's death in Messina along the way, many of the nobles and clerics returned to Europe. Deserted by much of their leade
An abbey is a complex of buildings used by members of a religious order under the governance of an abbot or abbess. It provides a place for religious activities and housing of Christian monks and nuns; the concept of the abbey has developed over many centuries from the early monastic ways of religious men and women where they would live isolated from the lay community about them. Religious life in an abbey may be monastic. An abbey may be open to visitors; the layout of the church and associated buildings of an abbey follows a set plan determined by the founding religious order. Abbeys are self-sufficient while using any abundance of produce or skill to provide care to the poor and needy, refuge to the persecuted, or education to the young; some abbeys offer accommodation to people. There are many famous abbeys across Europe; the earliest known Christian monasteries were groups of huts built near the residence of a famous ascetic or other holy person. Disciples wished to be close to their holy man or woman in order to study their doctrine or imitate their way of life.
In the earliest times of Christian monasticism, ascetics would live in social isolation but near a village church. They would subsist whilst donating any excess produce to the poor. However, increasing religious fervor about the ascetic's ways and or persecution of them would drive them further away from their community and further into solitude. For instance, the cells and huts of anchorites have been found in the deserts of Egypt. In 312 AD, Anthony the Great retired to the Thebaid region of Egypt to escape the persecution of the Emperor Maximian. Anthony was the best known of the anchorites of his time due to his degree of austerity and his powers of exorcism; the deeper he withdrew into the wilderness, the more numerous his disciples became. They refused to be built their cells close to him; this became a first true monastic community. Anthony, according to Johann August Wilhelm Neander, inadvertently became the founder of a new mode of living in common, Coenobitism. At Tabennae on the Nile, in Upper Egypt, Saint Pachomius laid the foundations for the coenobitical life by arranging everything in an organized manner.
He built several monasteries, each with about 1,600 separate cells laid out in lines. These cells formed an encampment where the monks performed some of their manual tasks. There were nearby large halls such as the church, kitchen and guest house for the monk's common needs. An enclosure protecting all these buildings gave the settlement the appearance of a walled village; this layout, known as the laurae, became popular throughout Palestine. As well as the "laurae", communities known as "caenobia" developed; these were monasteries. The monks were not permitted to retire to the cells of a laurae before they had undergone a lengthy period of training. In time, this form of common life superseded that of the older laurae. In the late 300s AD, Palladius visited the Egyptian monasteries, he described three hundred members of the coenobium of Panopolis. There were seven smiths, four carpenters, twelve camel-drivers and fifteen tanners; these people were divided into subgroups, each with its own "oeconomus".
A chief steward was at the head of the monastery. The produce of the monastery was brought to Alexandria for sale; the moneys were given away as charity. Twice in the year, the superiors of several coenobia met at the chief monastery, under the presidency of an "archimandrite" in order to make their reports. Chrysostom recorded the workings of a coenobia in the vicinity of Antioch; the monks lived in separate huts. They were subject to an abbot, observed a common rule; the layout of the monastic coenobium was influenced by a number of factors. These included a need for defence, economy of space, convenience of access; the layout of buildings became orderly. Larger buildings were erected and defence was provided by strong outside walls. Within the walls, the buildings were arranged around one or more open courts surrounded by cloisters; the usual arrangement for monasteries of the Eastern world is exemplified in the plan of the convent of the Great Lavra at Mount Athos. With reference to the diagram, the convent of the Great Lavra is enclosed within a strong and lofty blank stone wall.
The area within the wall is between four acres. The longer side is about 500 feet in length. There is only one entrance, located on the north side, defended by three iron doors. Near the entrance is a large tower, a constant feature in the monasteries of the Levant. There is a small postern gate at L; the enceinte comprises two large open courts, surrounded with buildings connected with cloister galleries of wood or stone. The outer court, the larger by far, contains the granaries and storehouses, the kitchen and other offices connected with the refectory. Adjacent to the gateway is a two-storied guest-house, entered from a cloister; the inner court is surrounded by a cloister. In the centre of this court stands the katholikon or conventual church, a square building with an apse of the cruciform domical Byzantine type, approached by a domed narthex. In front of the church stands a marble fountain, covered by a dome supported on columns. Opening from the western side of the cloister, but s
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits; the society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, cultural pursuits. Jesuits give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, promote ecumenical dialogue. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona, he composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber and professed vows of poverty and obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".
Ignatius was a nobleman who had a military background, the members of the society were supposed to accept orders anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God to strive for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers", "God's marines", or "the Company", which evolved from references to Ignatius' history as a soldier and the society's commitment to accepting orders anywhere and to endure any conditions. The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council; the Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is led by a Superior General. The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome.
The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church. In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the name Pope Francis; as of 2012, the Jesuits formed the largest single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. The Jesuits have experienced a decline in numbers in recent decades; as of 2017 the society had 16,088 members, 11,583 priests and 4,505 Jesuits in formation, which includes brothers and scholastics. This represents a 42.6 percent decline since 1977, when the society had a total membership of 28,038, of which 20,205 were priests. This decline is most pronounced in Europe and the Americas, with modest membership gains occurring in Asia and Africa. There seems to be no "Pope Francis effect" in counteracting the fall of vocations among the Jesuits; the society is divided into 83 provinces along with six independent regions and ten dependent regions. On 1 January 2007, members served in 112 nations on six continents with the largest number in India and the US.
Their average age was 57.3 years: 63.4 years for priests, 29.9 years for scholastics, 65.5 years for brothers. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is Arturo Sosa; the society is characterized by its ministries in the fields of missionary work, human rights, social justice and, most notably, higher education. It operates colleges and universities in various countries around the world and is active in the Philippines and India. In the United States the Jesuits have historical ties to 28 colleges and universities and 61 high schools; the degree to which the Jesuits are involved in the administration of each institution varies. As of September 2018, 15 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the US had non-Jesuit lay presidents. According to a 2014 article in The Atlantic, "the number of Jesuit priests who are active in everyday operations at the schools isn’t nearly as high as it once was". Worldwide it runs 172 colleges and universities. A typical conception of the mission of a Jesuit school will contain such concepts as proposing Christ as the model of human life, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, lifelong spiritual and intellectual growth, training men and women for others.
Ignatius laid out his original vision for the new order in the "Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus", "the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent official documents were elaborations and to which they had to conform." He ensured that his formula was contained in two papal bulls signed by Pope Paul III in 1540 and by Pope Julius III in 1550. The formula expressed the nature, community life, apostolate of the new religious order, its famous opening statement echoed Ignatius' military background: Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the Name of Jesus, to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching and any other ministration whatsoever of the Word of God, further by means of ret