Pope to preside at Thanksgiving service

Pope Francis will preside at a Thanksgiving Service in Rome this Saturday (27 September) to mark the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. The early evening service will be televised live via Vatican Radio and will be available on You Tube

The Thanksgiving Service will take place at the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus in Rome. The main architects involved in the construction of the church (officially called the Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina - or in English, the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus at the 'Argentina') were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, architect of the Farnese family, and Giacomo della Porta. The church was built on the same spot as the previous church of Santa Maria della Strada, where Saint Ignatius of Loyola had once prayed before an image of the Holy Virgin. This image, now adorned with gems, can be seen in the church in the chapel of Ignatius on the right side of the altar. Construction of the present church began on 26 June 1568 to Vignola's design. 

2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the ‘Restoration’ of the Jesuits, founded in 1540 by Ignatius and his first companions. As they developed many new works and gained in influence, Jesuits found themselves more and more in clashes with those who held power. These tensions reached a climax in July 1773 when Pope Clement XI, under pressure from the crowns of Spain, Portugal and France, suppressed the Jesuits and ordered them to leave all Catholic countries. It was not until 1814 that the restoration of the Jesuits could be completed, when on 7 August Pope Pius VII attended the Jesuit Church of the Gesù in Rome, celebrated mass at the altar of St Ignatius with 18 cardinals and many other bishops and priests, and pronounced the Jesuits restored everywhere. Since 1814 the Jesuits have once again established ministries and missions throughout the world, and the Jesuits in Britain published a calendar to acknowledge and celebrate the work that has been done by so many over the past 200 years. More about the Restoration of the Society of Jesus can be found on Thinking Faith.

Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is the first Jesuit to have been elected Pope.

Photo: Pope Francis preaches at Mass in the Church of the Gesù in January 2014.