18. April 1906 - Martin Luis
24th General Superior
† in Rome
Father Martin led the Society of Jesus throughout fourteen years about the turn of the century 1892-1906. The Historical Instutute of the Society of Jesus published in Rome his memories ('Memorias') only in recent time. They give a good idea of his character, and in which way the Order and the authorities of that time proceeded.
Father Martin was a Spaniard, born in the proximity of Burgos. His parents were ordinary peasants.
On October 13th 1864 he entered in Loyola the Society of Jesus. During his studies the Order was expelled from Spain by the revolution of 1868. Martin continued his studies in Payanne (Southern France). 1870 he took there the holy orders in the presence of his parents.
When he had accomplished his studies and the tertianship he began to lecture on theology. His intelligence and his firm and sensitive character were conspicious at that time already. 1880 banished from France he could return to Spain. There began his splendid career as superior, first as rector of the Central Seminary of Salamanca (1880-85), then of the University of Densto (1886), then as Provincial of Castile (1886-91). By his skillful initiatives, by the clarity of his reports, and the intelligence of his decisions he won the confidence of Father General Anderledy, who called him to the Curia of the Society of Jesus - at that time in Fiesole. When Anderledy was dying he appointed him Vicar General of the Order - to the great surprise of all people at the Curia.
In that function he had the task to prepare the twenty fourth General Congregation, which took place not in Rome but in Loyola, in order to avoid difficulties with the Kingdom Italy. The congregation numbered 73 members, who represented about 16.000 Jesuits from all over the world.
On October 2nd 1872 Father Martin was elected in the second ballot with 42 from 73 votes General of the Order. In his 'Memorias' he writes:
'My impressions during those two ballots were extremely lively shaped by the fear to be elected, and in the measure as the votes rose by an inner anxiety, as if a weight was put upon my soul, which was pressing me down; and by nervousness by the thought of the critics, who were there in those moments in which they disposed of my whole life for ever; and finally by humiliation and surprise, when I saw myself definitely elected. I did not say anything, even if I was tried to talk and to throw myself at the Fathers' feet to ask them to have compassion with me and to think of somebody else.'
In a circular to the whole Order the new General warned before two dangers of the modern world, i.e. the danger of religious superficialness, and the danger of love of a false liberty.
In the year 1895 the Curia returned to Rome. Father Martin's preference was as well for the educational works for the youth as for the social works, due to the initiatives of the encyclic 'Rerum Novarum' (May 15th 1891). Besides he started two important initiatives: he furthered the knowledge and practice of the Spiritual Exercises, and the research of the Order's history. He saw therein a very effective means for the taking in of the spirit of the Society of Jesus. With the publication of the 'Monumenta' he entrusted competent Fathers, such as Astrain, Duhr, Fonqueray, Hughes, Taechi-Venture and others.
In some disciplinary things Father Martin could be almost rigoros, e.g. inter alia in questions of enclosure, family ties, resistance against the acceptance of parishes.
Father Martin had to suffer much by a creeping illness. A malicious histolysis in the right arm let already 1904 foresee the worst. Two operations and ray-treatments did not help to stop the sarkoma. 1905 the arm was amputated. P. Martin died on April 18th 1906 in Rome.
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