January 19th 1565 - Laínez Diego
† in Rome
Laínez came from Almazán in the Kingdom of Castile, the heart of Spain. His ancestors had five generations ago still been Jews. Without doubt he was mentally and scientifically far superior to Ignatius because of his knowledge of scholasticism, both philosophy and theology. His clear, cool and astute intelligence became apparent particularly on the Trent Council. In each of the three phases of the council (1546 - 1551 - 1562) his skilful treatment of the most difficult questions of justification, Eucharist, and jurisdiction was admired by friends and opponents. The holy Dominican Pope Pius V († 1572) called Laínez 'the best lance' which the church had to its defence.
At the day of Ignatius's death, on July 31st 1556, Laínez was the only of the first companions in the Professed House in Rome. For one week he had been seized with heavy fevers. The physicians had scarcely hope for his life. On August 1st he got the extreme unction. Afterwards happened the change for the better. Thus the brethren elected him Vicar General of the Order. He summoned the General Congregation, which should elect the new General, on November 1556 to Rome. Actually it came off only after nearly two years, i.e. after the peace treaty between Spain and the Holy See.
It began on June 19th 1558. From the twenty participants ten were Spaniards and three Portuguese. To the seven others also Petrus Canisius belonged. He was elected to introduce to the voters the solemn voting on July 2nd by a Latin speech. After it Cardinal Pedro Pacheco went away who had come as representative of the pope. Already in the first ballot Laínez received the clear majority, namely 13 votes. Broët, Delanoy and Francisco de Borja received one vote each, and Nadal four votes.
On July 6th the new General and the election committee had an audience with Pope Paul IV, who received them very lovingly, and emphasized in a long speech the splendid working of the Society of Jesus.
All the more surprised and disappointed were all of them when the pope refused to acknowledge the constitutions. He demanded 'per decretum' the introduction of the choir prayer and the limitation of the term of office of the General to about three years.
The Society of Jesus submitted humbly, but
pointed to the approved exceptions in a memorandum to the pope. All professions signed that memorandum except Laínez.
By Laínez the working of the SJ has experienced a change which Ignatius originally had not wanted . Ignatius wanted a mobile Society. But the colleges which Lainez 'invented' required stability and continuity. One can be astonished at how quickly and with which energy Ignatius and his co-workers carried out that change.
Laínez introduced 1558 also the assistences, i.e. four large administrative districts, which proved as great help: the Spanish one under Father Polanco, the Portuguese one under Father González, the Italian one under Madrid, and the German one under Father Nadal.
On January 19th 1565 Laínez died in Rome at an age of only fifty three. His relentless efforts had broken his strength. In the nine years since Ignatius' death the number of Jesuits had risen from 1000 to 3500. They belonged now to 18 (12) provinces and to 131 (72) houses.
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