St. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J.

St. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J.
Posted on 11/14/2017

In 1759 the Society of Jesus was expelled from Portugal.  In 1762 the Jesuits were abolished in France.  In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled in Spain.  The Kings of these great nations saw the Society of Jesus as a threat to their power; powerful people put great pressure on the Pope to dissolve the Society.  In 1773, the weak Pope Clement XIV decreed the dissolution of the Society of Jesus.  Today’s feast day honors St. Joseph Pignatelli’s noble spirit which built a bridge for the Society across a dark valley to a future of new life.  His life is the link that connects the Society of Jesus from the time of its suppression to that of its restoration. 

He was sound asleep in the early hours of April 3, 1767, when Spanish soldiers surrounded the Jesuit residence.  The Jesuit community was awakened to a summons: “to the dining room!”  They were held under guard for twenty-four hours, then paraded out of town.  That quickly they were refugees, by the hundreds.  Pignatelli was among hundreds of Jesuits loaded onto thirteen ships.  What should have been a brief voyage turned into more than a year of wandering.  One port after another refused to accept them.  

The 1600 Jesuits on board were eventually dumped ashore near Genoa.  From there the exhausted men many elderly, covered 300 mountainous miles by foot and donkey to the Papal States, where Pignatelli negotiated their settlement.  His mission was to care for these wandering Jesuit refugees.  He would organize searches for food and shelter.  He remained faithful to his Jesuit vocation and inspired others to do the same.  He put his all into the service of his Jesuit brethren.  Trusting in the providence of God, he found ways to keep in contact with the dispersed members of the Society.

In 1811 he passed away in his seventieth year after being in exile for forty years.  He never gave up hope his beloved Society would be restored.  Three years after his death, Pope Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus throughout the world.  

We pray at the passing to her Lord of Mary Jo McCormick Anderson, age 86,  who died peacefully on November 8 in her home, encircled by her grateful and loving family. Mrs. Anderson’s sons, Robert ’73, Richard ’74, Kevin ’78, Gerard ’76 and her grandson, Nathan ’07 attended St. John’s Jesuit.  The Anderson family have been great friends of St. John’s Jesuit.  Pray for her peaceful passing to her Lord and for her family. Gratitude is prayer. St. Ignatius Loyola wrote, “Give thanks to God our Lord for benefits received.”  St. Joseph Pignatelli, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

“To pray is to say Yes to God.” (Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.)

To pray is to say Yes to God against the background of the troubles and sufferings of life. And because our “yes” amid all the forces of modern life – the hectic pace of life that makes personal peace very difficult; so many forms of entertainment which render our spirits passive; our need to put a price tag on everything putting great limits on the true mystery of life - combine to render us anonymous, prayer is still the oldest form of the human battle for self, for identity against all odds. 

Scientists are now beaming intelligible messages out into the universe in the hope that life in other worlds may hear us and answer.  Prayer is similar, except that it takes God’s existence as actual and not merely possible. Prayer assumes that God is conscious of our attempts and treats our communication seriously. 
The Courage to Prayer, Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. and Johann Metz
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