German Version

January 31th 1615 - Aquaviva Claudius
Fifth General
† in Rome

He was born on September 14th 1543 in Ari, not far from Naples, as the youngest son of the duke there.

As General of the Society of Jesus (since 1581) he belongs to the most capable Generals of the Order. During his term of office the Society experienced glorious days. The constitution of the order got a last finishing. The Directory to the Spiritual Exercises and the 'Industriae' were written.

But there were also big problems during his term of office:

  • The tensions in the order between the more conservative, to which also Aquaviva belonged, and the more progressive Jesuits. Several general assemblies became necessary to turn away a threatening schism.
  • Further the difficulties with Pope Sixtus V, a Franciscan. He regarded the name 'Society of Jesus' as arrogance. Aquaviva got the order to write a decree of change. He had already sent in a draft, when Sixtus died on August 27th 1590. His successors did no longer insist on the change of the name.
  • Then the difficulties within the area of moral theology between Molina and the Dominicans, which ran high-dramatically. Thereby it was about the relationship between grace and free will.
  • In France and Belgium, Spain and Venice, in Bavaria and Bohemia, Austria, Poland and Hungary there were religious-political difficulties.
  • The mission area India gave rise to concerns. A nephew of the General, Rudolf Aquaviva, died as martyr in East India.

Half a century after the beginning of the Reformation the new ideas were met by a wave of stormy sympathy in the countries on this side of the alps. Decades later Protestantism could hold itself just at the coasts of the Baltic Sea and in the English area, while Catholicism retained his home around the Mediterranean Sea.

The successor of Aquaviva, the Roman Mutius Vitelleschi, governed until 1645. His term of office coincided not completely, but almost completely with the Thirty Year's War in Germany.

After the stormy and eventful government of Claudius Aquaviva his term of office covers a calm and lucky development for the Order. Besides Vitelleschi had the luck that the concurrent popes felt kindly toward the Order. Under Vitelleschi the Order saw 1640 the jubilee of its existence, which was celebrated in the whole world with splendid festivities. The number of Jesuits rose to 13.112 members in 32 provinces and 559 houses.


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