October 5th 1964 - Janssens Jean Baptiste
XXVIIth General of the Society of Jesus
† in Rome
The Belgian Janssens was not a General who achieved great things outwardly. His spirituality had a deep, inner strength. That is reflected by his letters to the whole Society of Jesus. Each kind of triumphalism was far from him. His farsightedness for the mission work of the Order, particularly in Eastern Asia, is amazing. He had also wanted to work as missionary himself, and as Scholastic he had volunteered for the mission in Chota Nagpur, but his request had been rejected from lack at health.
Born in 1889 in Mecheln, he entered in 1907 the Society of Jesus. His special studies were devoted to Canon Law. He lived in Constantinople for some time and studied the law of the Orthodox Church.
As Professor for Canon Law and Rector (1929) of the Jesuit College, as Tertianship Instructor, Provincial of the North Belgian Province (1939) and Inspector he had good qualifications for his office, when the XXIXth General Congregation on September 15th 1946 elected him General.
When in the last years of life his health became weaker and weaker, he appointed in 1960 the Canadian Father Swain his personal Vicar General. Father Swain was Assistant of the English Assistency. Father Janssens assigned him to take over the leadership of the Society of Jesus up to the election of a new General.
A tumefaction which had grown in his eye, made it necessary to remove the eye. In his hour of death Pope Paul VI came personally to give him the apostolic benediction. Father Janssens died on October 5th 1964. From the approx. 36.000 Jesuits at that time worked more than 6.000 in mission areas.
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